Ten killed in storm and floods in central Vietnam

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VINH, Vietnam, Oct 5 (Reuters) Ten people died and six were missing after a typhoon blew strong winds and heavy rains into central Vietnam, triggering floods, blocking traffic and threatening the lives of thousands, officials said today.

More than 80,000 people had been evacuated before typhoon Lekima hit on Wednesday night, damaging nearly 77,000 houses, sinking fishing vessels and knocking down electricity poles, the government said.

In Nghe An province, rising floodwaters and landslides cut all roads and telecoms links with the mountainous district of Que Phong, where at least one teenager was killed and two other people were swept away, officials said.

The teenager's body was recovered but the two adults were missing, said Hoang Van Hai, deputy head of Que Phong police.

''We are stuck on the way and no vehicles can reach Que Phong,'' senior Nghe An People's Committee official Nguyen Van Hanh said while travelling to the remote district.

''Waters are extremely high and strong now,'' he said.

Yesterday 1,100 police and soldiers helped move 21,630 people away from a dam in Thanh Hoa province, north of Nghe An, as waters threatened the collapse of the structure, the Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper said.

Typhoon Lekima -- the Vietnamese name of a fruit -- has destroyed nearly 7,000 hectares of rice, 29,000 hectares of other crops and left damages in the irrigation system, telecoms and power networks, the government said in a disaster report.

It put preliminary damages at 659 billion dong ( million).

The centre of Lekima passed between Quang Binh and Ha Tinh provinces, crossed Laos on Wednesday night and moved into northern Thailand where it weakened into a depression.

In August a storm and subsequent floods killed nearly 80 people in several central provinces. At the time, officials said hundreds of thousands faced food shortages.

Yesterday the Vietnam Red Cross Association sent blankets, mosquito nets and kettles to victims of typhoon Lekima.

The Health Ministry has urged local health officials to help clean up the environment to avoid water-borne diseases. Vietnam is hit by up to 10 storms a year, causing millions of dollars in damage and sometimes killing hundreds of people.

Lekima is the fifth storm of 2007. Before slamming into Vietnam's coast, it killed at least five people in the Philippines and hit Sanya beach resort on China's Hainan island, trapping tourists and forcing the evacuation of 225,000 people.

Reuters SYU DB1051

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