BEIJING/BANGKOK, Sept 30 Seventy-four Chinese
fishermen were missing on Monday after a typhoon sunk three
fishing boats in the South China Sea as Thailand and Vietnam
braced for torrential rain and flooding.
The ships were hit by Typhoon Wutip on Sunday as they
navigated gales near the Paracel Islands, about 330 km from
China's island province of Hainan, state news agency Xinhua
said, citing sources with the Hainan maritime search and rescue
Rescuers had rescued 14 survivors, the sources said. The
boats were sailing from the southern province of Guangdong.
Rains from the storm are expected to reach Vietnam on Monday
before hitting Thailand on Tuesday.
Thai officials warned that more heavy rains could inundate
already flood-hit areas of the northeast. At least 22 people
have been killed in this year's flooding.
"We're expecting more floods," Teerat Ratanasevi, a
government spokesman, told reporters on Monday. "Soldiers have
been asked to help evacuate people trapped in flood zones."
Authorities in central Vietnam have moved children and
elderly people to schools and other more solid buildings ahead
of the storm.
In the central province of Quang Tri, an estimated 82,000
people would need to be evacuated if Wutip made a direct hit, a
government statement said.
Vietnam said heavy rain had been falling in several central
provinces while flooding and landslides could strike the region
later this week.
Typhoons gather strength from warm sea water and tend to
dissipate after making landfall. They frequently hit Taiwan,
Japan, the Philippines, Hong Kong and southern China during a
typhoon season that lasts from early summer to late autumn.
(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee in Beijing, Amy Sawitta Lefevre in
Bangkok and Ho Binh Minh in Hanoi; Editing by Nick Macfie)