t yphoon strikes Vietnam after battering Philippines

MANILA/HANOI - Philippine authorities braced yesterday for another storm as the death toll from Typhoon Ketsana rose to 246 and the cost of the damage wreaked climbed to about $100million (R740million).

MANILA/HANOI - Philippine authorities braced yesterday for another storm as the death toll from Typhoon Ketsana rose to 246 and the cost of the damage wreaked climbed to about $100million (R740million).

Ketsana, which first hit the Philippines at the weekend, slammed into Vietnam's central coast yesterday as the government warned of high flood risk from Thanh Hoa province in the north to Lam Dong province in the Central Highlands.

Eighteen people were killed in Vietnam, the online Vietnam Net newspaper www.vietnamnet.vn cited government preliminary data as showing.

Many areas were inundated, including parts of the port city of Danang, state-run Vietnam Television footage showed. The typhoon was heading south-west towards Laos.

Meanwhile forecasters said a new storm forming in the Pacific Ocean was likely to enter Philippine waters tomorrow and make landfall later on the northern island of Luzon.

Ketsana dumped more than a month's worth of average rainfall on Manila and surrounding areas in one 24-hour period.

About 80percent of the city of 15million was flooded.

The Philippine government has come in for scathing criticism for its response, with many calling it inadequate and delayed.

Authorities estimated damage from the storm so far at about 4,69billion pesos (R730million). More than 1,9million people were affected and 375000 had abandoned their homes and taken refuge in evacuation centres.

More than 3000 houses were either damaged or destroyed.

In Vietnam about 170000 people were evacuated before the typhoon made landfall. A government statement told authorities to keep moving people out of areas threatened by flash floods from related torrential rain that began late on Monday.

National carrier Vietnam Airlines cancelled all fights to Danang on Monday and yesterday and schools in the affected area were closed. The airline said it would resume service today.

The Philippine death toll could rise further once reports come in from remote areas, disaster officials said. The storm hit metropolitan Manila and 12 provinces.

Dozens remained missing and feared dead. - Reuters

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