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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 December 2006, 17:00 GMT
Vietnam lashed by tropical storm
Thousands of houses have been destroyed in Vietnam

At least 47 people have died as Tropical Storm Durian lashed Vietnam, sweeping away fishing boats, destroying houses and downing power lines.

Officials said 23 of the dead were in the worst-affected southern province of Ba Ria Vung Tau.

Durian later crossed the Mekong Delta which, as a low-lying area, is at high risk of flooding.

The same storm caused devastation in the Philippines, triggering mudslides, which killed hundreds of people.

The official toll from the mudslides, which struck near the Mayon volcano, south-east of Manila, and engulfed villages, stands at 526 people. Officials say another 740 are missing.

'Bombarded'

Authorities in Ba Ria Vung Tau province said some people were killed and many others were injured by flying tin sheets blown off houses.

Officials said thousands of houses had been destroyed.

"It's the hardest storm we have ever felt," news agency Reuters quoted one resident near Vietnam's commercial hub, Ho Chi Minh City, as saying.

In Ben Tre province, the storm claimed at least 17 lives.

Officials said at least 4,000 houses had been destroyed in the province, and 26,000 more were partially damaged.

Map showing Durian's path

"The areas where the eye of the storm passed through looked like they were just bombarded," the Associated Press news agency quoted local official Nguyen Van Tu as saying.

Disaster relief officials said four people were killed in Tien Giang province, and two people died after a concrete cross fell on them while they were sheltering from the storm at a Catholic church in Binh Thuan province.

One man was killed by a falling tree in Vinh Long province.

Officials said hundreds of people had been injured and dozens were reported missing.

Communication with the island of Phu Qui, some 250km (150 miles) east of Ho Chi Minh City, had been lost, they added.

Thousands evacuated

Authorities evacuated thousands of people from vulnerable areas before Durian hit.

The BBC's Bill Hayton, in Hanoi, says the government's decision to authorise local authorities to take all the means necessary to move people from the path of the storm may have saved lives.

Though thousands left voluntarily, he reports, many were forcibly removed from their homes.

He says it is highly unusual for southern Vietnam to experience such a storm in the month of December.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Strong winds hit southern Vietnam



SEE ALSO
Philippine storm toll set to rise
04 Dec 06 |  Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Philippine mudslides
03 Dec 06 |  In Pictures
Hopes fade after Philippine storm
02 Dec 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Typhoon Chebi heads for Vietnam
12 Nov 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Fierce storm lashes Philippines
30 Oct 06 |  Asia-Pacific

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