Agencies and localities from northern Thanh Hoa province to southern Ca Mau province are urgently preparing to cope with super storm Haiyan, which means "petrel" (a sea-bird) in Chinese.

The storm, which has recorded wind gusts of up to 315 kilometres per hour, is one of the biggest and wildest storms to churn through the Pacific in modern times. It is also indirectly blamed for the drowning of a school girl in central Thua Thien Hue Province .

The National Centre for Hydro-meteorology Forecasting said the typhoon was expected to make landfall in central provinces on November 10 after smashing through the Philippines on November 8.

Quang Ngai province's Committee for Flood and Storm Control on November 8 banned all boats from putting to sea until the storm passed. It also ordered all boats at sea to try and make safe port by 7:00pm on November 8.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent urgent diplomatic notes to China , Malaysia , Indonesia and the Philippines asking them to provide any endangered Vietnamese boats and their crews with safe shelter if necessary. It also told Vietnamese embassies to co-operate with agencies in those countries.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung chaired an online meeting with threatened localities and agencies and ordered them to take steps to minimise any death and destruction.

PM Dung also said residents in high-risk areas had to be evacuated to safe locations and school children given days off.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has sent teams of experts to districts to advise them on when- or when not to - release water from reservoirs and irrigation dams to ease any threatening situations.

Deputy Director of the National Centre for Hydro-meteorology Forecasting, Le Thanh Hai, said the storm was likely to create huge devastation. He warned that torrential rains would probably affect localities from Thanh Hoa to Khanh Hoa, bringing falls of up to 500mm.-VNA