At least 26 people in central provinces have died in severe flooding caused by typhoon Ketsana, the ninth tropical storm to hit Vietnam this season, according to preliminary estimates.

The Central Highland province of Kon Tum reported nine casualties, Binh Dinh 5, Da Nang 3, Quang Nam 3, Quang Ngai 3 and Thua Thien-Hue 3. Five others have gone missing.

In Thua Thien-Hue province, over 320 houses have been demolished or unroofed by the storm.

Heavy rains in combination with strong winds and high floods have destroyed electricity and transport systems in Quang Nam province, especially in mountainous districts. Provincial authorities have mobilised all forces to cope with the typhoon and taken emergency measures such as organising evacuations and stockpiling food in order to minimise human and property losses.

In the mountainous district of Son Tay, Quang Ngai province, all traffic routes have been blocked, 22 houses have collapsed and the entire district is without electrical power. To make matters worse, a 1,500 tonne ship anchored in the Dung Quat Port was swamped by the storm.

In Kon Tum province, severe landslides caused by heavy rains and floods have made all provincial roads impassible. The provincial authorities have mobilised all military and police forces to help affected people move to safe places.

According to Nguyen Huu Tuyen, an official from the Vietnam Railway Corporation, by September 29, four trains had been cancelled due to the storm, leaving nearly 3,000 passengers stranded in central stations.

On September 29, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai arrived in Thua Thien-Hue province to directly take control of storm-response activities in central provinces .

The Deputy PM urged provincial leaders and the local storm prevention steering board to implement synchronous measures to cope with the typhoon, especially ensuring the safety of local residents and a sufficient food supply. Rescue forces were asked to be on alert round-the-clock to deal with emergencies, such as dyke breaches.

Deputy PM Hai continued his working trip with a stop in Da Nang city, where he urged the Central Region Hydrometeorology Forecasting Station to closely follow the storm’s development and directly notify localities in danger, especially those in Quang Tri to Phu Yen./.