Typhoon Nari kills five, causes major damage in Vietnam

Typhoon Nari slammed into central Vietnam early Tuesday, killing five people and causing widespread damage which residents said left a popular tourist city looking like "a battlefield".

The storm, which claimed 13 lives in the Philippines over the weekend, tore through the communist country's central region, hitting the UNESCO-listed ancient capital of Hue and the city of Danang.

"The city looks like a battlefield," local resident Nguyen Thi Lan told AFP from Danang -- popular with foreign tourists for its pristine beaches.

"Signboards have blown down, roofs have been ripped off, trees have been torn up," she said, adding that parts of the city were left without electricity.

Residents said it was biggest typhoon since 2006, when Typhoon Xangsane barrelled through the region, killing some 250 people in the Philippines and Vietnam.

Schools were closed Tuesday in Danang, which bore the brunt of the typhoon packing winds of up to 133 kilometres (83 miles) an hour, state media said.

Photographs from the area showed streets strewn with the twisted wreckage of advertising hoardings torn down by high winds, while residents picked through the debris of their homes.

The national flag carrier, Vietnam Airlines, said it had cancelled a total of 22 flights to and from Hue and Danang city on Monday and Tuesday morning, leaving many tourists stranded.

More than 1,000 tourists have been forced to extend their holidays until the weather improves and they are able to leave, the Saigon Economic Times said.

"The tourists are all safe," said local official Tran Chi Cuong, adding that most of the area's beach resorts had not been badly affected by the storm.

Before Nari struck, Vietnam evacuated more than 120,000 people to makeshift shelters in public buildings away from vulnerable coastal areas, according to the country's disaster authorities.

Vietnamese weather forecasters said the typhoon had crossed the border to Laos by midday Tuesday and then eased into a tropical depression.

Nari is the 11th tropical storm to hit Vietnam so far this year.

Last month, Typhoon Wutip left a trail of destruction in the communist state, damaging nearly 200,000 houses and killing several people.

Forty people have been killed in flooding in Vietnam since early September, according to official figures.

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