Vietnam has been put on red alert as it braces for a giant tropical storm that is forecast to hit the country this week with wind speeds of up to 118 kilometers per hour.
Officials said at a meeting on Wednesday that Doksuri, the 10th storm to form in the South China Sea (which Vietnam calls the East Sea) this year, is also the strongest and there’s a very high chance it will hit Vietnam.
Nguyen Duc Cuong, director of the National Center for Hydrometeorology Forecasting, said that the storm has been growing in strength for a week as it moves towards Vietnam.
“This will be the strongest and most dangerous storm to hit Vietnam in recent years,” Cuong said.
The storm is expected to make landfall in Vietnam between Friday night and Saturday morning. Cuong said when it does, its destruction might be the worst the country has ever seen.
This is the first time the agency has raised the alert level to “red”, signaling “very high” risks, and only one below the purple alert issued for “disastrous” situations.
Around 800 kilometers (500 miles) of coastline from Quang Ninh Province to the central city of Hue is forecast to be the hardest hit, officials said.
Waves of more than 10 meters are predicted offshore, while sea levels are likely to rise two to three meters following heavy downpours, the agency said.
Coastal provinces have already announced plans to shut down beaches and ban offshore fishing from Thursday, and are considering closing schools.
There is also a chance Doksuri will combine with Talim, another storm forming in the area, and batter Taiwan and southwest China.
Vietnam has been hit by two tropical storms already this year that caused at least nine deaths. Forecasters say the country will be hit by around 15 storms this year.
Last year, tropical storms and flooding killed 264 people in Vietnam and caused damage worth nearly VND40 trillion ($1.75 billion), nearly five times more than in 2015.