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Damage Caused By Typhoon Linda in Vietnam Province of Ca Mau Is Estimated at $170 Million,

November 4, 1997

Damage Caused By Typhoon Linda in Vietnam Province of Ca Mau Is Estimated at $170 Million, Totaling More Than the Region’s Gross Domestic ProductBy IAN STEWART

SONG DOC, Vietnam (AP) _ One day after Typhoon Linda cut a swath through southern Vietnam, mounds of splintered timber and twisted sheets of corrugated steel were all that was left of this shattered coastal town.

Linda, the worst typhoon to hit southern Vietnam this century, laid waste this community and others like it throughout Ca Mau and Kien Giang provinces with winds gusting to more than 80 mph.

Rescue workers said Tuesday that at least 120 people were killed in southern Vietnam. Nearly 1,000 were missing at sea and presumed dead after more than 1,300 fishing boats were sunk. Another more than 1,000 were simply missing at sea and their fate was unknown.

In Ca Mau alone, the damage is estimated at $170 million _ more than the annual gross domestic product for the province. More than 125,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in Ca Mau.

``When the storm hit, it made the strangest sound,″ said Than Huu Khang, 34, a fisherman. ``It was like a howling animal.″

Rain still was falling on him as he sat on his bed in a thatch hut, now roofless.

In Ca Mau, 223 miles south of Ho Chi Minh City, damage totaled $85 million _ about a third of the province’s annual gross domestic product.

``You can see the damage for yourself,″ said Ca Mau’s vice governor, Le Kong Nghiep. He called for both domestic and international disaster aid.

Along National Highway No. 1, which ends in Ca Mau town, trees were toppled and houses were flattened. Corrugated sheet metal roofing was strewn across the road, and one sheet dangled from telephone lines.

Townspeople whose homes were partially damaged tried to rebuild, some laying palm leaves on their dwellings as makeshift roofs. Those with destroyed homes just sifted through the debris looking for belongings.

In Kien Giang province, damage was estimated at $60 million. In the town of Bac Lieu, some 11,000 homes were destroyed. Most were fragilely built and were no match for powerful winds.

Officials also said that most schools in the stricken region were either damaged or destroyed, as were many medical clinics.

Deputy Premier Trinh Minh Thanh left the capital, Hanoi, and went south to the Mekong Delta area to assess damage.

The dozens of fishing villages that dot Ca Mau’s coastline were unprepared for the storm, which made rescue and recovery efforts difficult. Some were swamped under floodwaters and power lines were cut, local authorities said.

It was the first time since 1922 that Ca Mau had been hit by a major storm, said Vo Thien Hoang, acting director of the Flood and Storm Control Department.

Monday night, Linda also hit four provinces in southern Thailand, killing three people, but officials said damage was less serious than originally feared.

The typhoon passed into Burma and was heading into the Bay of Bengal Tuesday.

Thailand’s Interior Ministry said three people died, 13 were injured and more than 30 fishing vessels capsized. More than 100 houses were damaged in Prachuab Khirikan province, they said. Damage to agricultural areas was also reported in the four Thai provinces and in some towns electricity was cut off. There were no reports of flooding.

American oil company Unocal said Tuesday it would begin returning workers to offshore rigs. Unocal had evacuated more than 700 people from its offshore facilities, which were not damaged.

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