Vietnam deployed hundreds of soldiers and heavy machinery on Thursday to search for survivors after landslides triggered by torrential rains from Typhoon Molave, one of the strongest typhoons in the region in decades.
The landslides, which hit remote areas in the central province of Quang Nam late Wednesday, killed 13 people with 40 missing as rescue efforts were hampered by bad weather at the tail end of the storm, the government said. State media said 12 fishermen died at sea.
“We can forecast the storm path or the amount of rain, but can’t predict when landslides happen,” Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung said in a statement.
“The road is covered under deep mud and heavy rains are still lashing the area, but rescue work has to be carried out quickly.”
State television said the bodies of 12 fishermen were found Thursday after their boats sank while trying to return to shore two days earlier. Two navy vessels had been mobilized to find them and 14 were still missing.
Since early October, Vietnam has been battered by storms, heavy rains and floods which have affected more than a million people.
The government said Typhoon Molave – also known as Quinta – had left millions of people without electricity and damaged 56,000 houses. It weakened to a tropical depression after making landfall Wednesday and is expected to reach Laos later Thursday.
Heavy rain of up to 700 millimeters (27.5 inches) will continue in parts of central Vietnam until Saturday, the weather agency said.
Before it hit Vietnam, Typhoon Molave passed through the Philippines, where it caused flooding and landslides that disaster authorities on Thursday said had killed at least 16 people.
This story has been updated.