- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 29, 2009

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Typhoon Ketsana roared into central Vietnam on Tuesday, killing at least 23 people as it brought flooding and winds of up to 90 mph, disaster officials said. Some 170,000 were evacuated from its path.

Ketsana left more than 200 dead across the northern Philippines as a weaker tropical storm.

After gathering strength over the South China Sea, the typhoon made landfall in midafternoon, about 37 miles south of Danang, according to the National Weather Center.

Two people in Quang Nam province were killed by falling trees, and another died when struck by a power line, said Nguyen Minh Tuan, a provincial disaster official.

“The rivers are rising and many homes are flooded, and several mountainous districts have been isolated by mudslides,” he said.

Another three died in Thua Thien Hue province, disaster official Le Minh said. A man was killed by a falling tree, a woman died in flood waters, and a 3-year-old drowned in a flooded home.

As the storm moved inland toward Laos, nine people died in Kon Tum province in the Central Highlands, including a family of five whose house was buried in a mudslide, disaster official Nguyen Van Vy said.

Deaths were also reported in Danang and the province of Binh Dinh and Quang Ngai.

Some flooding was reported in Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Quang Nam province, but no serious damage was reported.

The storm weakened as it approached Laos, and by Tuesday evening the rain had stopped along some parts of the coast.

River levels were still rising, however, and more rains are forecast for the region Wednesday.

Authorities evacuated 170,000 people from six central provinces as the typhoon approached and heavy winds began lashing Vietnam’s central coast in the morning, officials said.

“There’s a blackout across our entire province,” said Truong Ngoc Nhi, vice governor of Quang Ngai province, south of Danang. “Streets are strewn with fallen trees and utility poles. It looks like a battlefield.”

Vietnam Airlines canceled all flights to the tourist destinations of Danang and Hue, and travelers were stranded along the central coast.

The typhoon ruined the wedding of Bui Thi Anh Nguyet, a 24-year-old-bride who consulted a fortuneteller before setting the date for her nuptials.

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