HANOI (REUTERS) - Vietnam has ordered vessels back to port and prepared evacuation plans in its flood-prone northern provinces as tropical storm "Son Tinh" was expected to make landfall later on Wednesday (July 18).
Son Tinh, which soaked parts of the Philippines on Tuesday, had reached sustained wind speeds of up to 90km per hour, the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting said in a statement on Wednesday.
The storm was expected to dump up to 350mm of heavy rains on Vietnam's northern provinces and could trigger floods and landslides, the agency said.
"This is a fast-moving storm which is hitting the Gulf of Tonkin, an area full of vessels, fishing farms and tourist sites," the government said in a statement posted on its website on Tuesday night.
Vietnam is prone to destructive storms and flooding due to its long coastline. Natural disasters - predominantly floods and landslides triggered by storms - killed 389 people in Vietnam last year, according to the General Statistics Office.
Last month, heavy rains triggered flash floods and landslides which killed 24 people in the remote and mountainous northern provinces of Lai Chau and Ha Giang.
Son Tinh, which is among the first of about a dozen tropical storms and typhoons forecast to hit Vietnam this year, will not directly impact the country's key coffee and rice production areas in central and southern Vietnam.
A safety official at the Nghi Son refinery, not far from Son Tinh's predicted path, said the refinery is bracing for the storm but has no plan to suspend its operations.