News World Vietnam prepares for worst as typhoon approaches

Vietnam prepares for worst as typhoon approaches

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Super Typhoon Haiyan, which has caused devastation across the Philippines is now bearing down on Vietnam, where tens of thousands of people are being evacuated.

The typhoon is one of the most powerful storms on record to make landfall.

In Vietnam, mass evacuations have taken place in central Da Nang and Quang Ngai provinces, according to the Tuoi Tre newspaper.

The storm is expected to hit Vietnam near the central city of Hue today.

Englishman Peter Rosenfeld is in a hotel in the east coast city of Da Nang, and says buildings there have been boarded up with whatever material is at hand to prepare for the storm.

“The streets are completely deserted and there are … bin bags blasting down the streets at the moment that suggest the winds are getting up,” he said.

“It’s a very, very strange situation that we find ourselves in.”

The Red Cross is estimating that more than 1200 people have been killed in the Philippines in the wake of the super storm.

Among the worst-hit areas are the eastern island of Leyte and the coastal city of Tacloban, which saw buildings flattened in a storm surge.

First reports say 100 bodies have been found there, with 200 more deaths in Samar province.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and aid agencies are struggling to reach the worst affected areas.

President Benigno Aquino says he fears the death toll will climb.

“It will be substantially more. We are not prepared to say how much more at this point in time, because that is also being collated at this time,” he said.

The Philippines’ interior secretary, Mar Roxas, has been visiting coastal towns in Leyte to oversee relief efforts.

He says it is a terrible sight.

“The devastation is ah … I don’t have the words for it,” he said.

“It’s really horrific, it’s a great human tragedy. There’s no power, there’s no light.

“By the time the sun sets, it’s dark, and you’re just going to have to make your way to where you can find some shelter.”

Mr Roxas says authorities are working make sure people have access to the essentials,” he said.

“We’re opening as many stores as we can so that people can have access to food.

“There is some looting that is going on. We’ve deployed the army and PNP as much as we can and we’re trying to secure power and water which are basics.”

The military has begun relief efforts, but aid agencies are struggling to reach the worst-affected areas.

The airport has been badly damaged and only military flights are operating.

Two Australian disaster experts are on the ground in the Philippines, with the Government saying it is ready to provide further assistance if required.

The Government will initially provide about $390,000 in emergency relief supplies to assist communities in the Philippines.

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop says the money will go towards sleeping mats, blankets, mosquito nets, water containers and general health kits.

Charity organisation World Vision is aiding recovery and 37 of its own staff have had their homes destroyed.

Kate Rose from World Vision’s emergency response team says the organisation is trying to reach 1.2 million displaced people to give them shelter and kits containing food and clean water.

She says crews are on standby in Vietnam and Laos, which are in the path of the devastating storm.

Ms Rose says the organisation is seeking help from Australians.

“World Vision is certainly looking for any help the community can give us for this event,” she said.

“The cost of cleaning up, of restoring people’s homes, of trying to bring families back together is going to be massive.”

Oxfam is also assessing what assistance can be provided.

Chief executive Helen Szoke says a team of experts has been sent into some of the poorest areas to assess water, public health and sanitation needs.

“We’re focusing on the area of Bohol and also the northern Sebu and north and eastern Samar areas,” she said.

“So we’re on the ground, we are actually looking to see what the needs are of people so that we can start to bring in assistance.