DANANG, Vietnam (AFP) — Vietnam ordered hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate their homes Tuesday as super typhoon "Noru" barrelled towards the busy city of Danang, with forecasters predicting the storm would be one of the biggest to hit the country.
Almost half of Vietnam's airports have been shut, schools and offices across several central provinces were closed and residents rushed to find shelter before the expected arrival of the typhoon on Wednesday.
After slamming into the Philippines earlier this week, where it killed six people, "Noru" is predicted to make landfall as a super typhoon before 11 a.m. (0400 GMT) and then subside to a severe typhoon as it makes its way inland.
Vietnam's flood and storm control authority said wind speeds would reach 160 kilometers per hour, equalling Typhoon "Xangsane" — which hit Danang in 2006 and killed 76 people.
Authorities have urged 400,000 people to leave their homes, including in the popular tourist city of Hoi An, where residents were brought to a primary school.
"I wanted to leave. My house is not very strong. I am afraid its roof might be blown away when the typhoon hits," Huynh Mua told AFP, clutching a plastic bag full of clothes, a blanket and several packets of instant noodles.
In Danang, Vietnam's third-biggest city, all shops and hotels were closed, while residents have been banned from going out on the streets from late Tuesday.
According to data from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, located in Hawaii, Super Typhoon "Noru" will be only the sixth major typhoon to hit Vietnam since 1945.
"Noru" hit the Philippines' Luzon island on Sunday and Monday, toppling trees, knocking out power and flooding low-lying communities.
Five rescuers were killed after being sent to help flooded residents, while another man died after he was hit by a landslide. Officials estimate about $2.4 million worth of crops were damaged.