Vietnamese and Chinese flee as storm hits land
THE typhoon that devastated the Philippines was heading for parts of China and Vietnam last night as hundreds of thousands of people evacuated their homes.
Some 600,000 residents from areas thought to be most at risk in Vietnam headed for seven evacuation centres, while China announced its highest alert. The storm, which destroyed entire cities in the Philippines, has lost much of its strength but remains a category one typhoon, with winds of up to 145kmh and torrential rain.
The Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, and the popular tourist resort of Halong Bay are both in the path of Typhoon Haiyan as the storm nears the country's coast.
In Hanoi residents have begun hoarding goods and emptying supermarkets, while on the tiny Con Co island, off the coast of Quang Tri province, all 250 locals are in underground shelters.
Boats have been ordered back to port along many coastal regions. Several hundred domestic and international flights have been cancelled and schools were closed in many parts of the north.
China announced its highest alert, a red flag, as the storm approached Hainan province.
More than 200 flights at Hainan's two airports, in Sanya and Haikou, were cancelled or delayed.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis yesterday led prayers for those affected by the typhoon that killed at least 10,000 people in the Philippines.
In an emotional address Pope Francis said: "I wish to express my closeness to the people of the Philippines and of that region. Unfortunately there are many victims and the damage is enormous.
"We pray now in silence . . . for our brothers and sisters, and we will seek to also send concrete help,"Pope Francis told thousands of pilgrims from his window over St Peter's Square.
Separately, a message from the leader of the 1.2-billion-member Catholic Church asking Twitter users to join him in prayer for the victims of typhoon Haiyan was re-tweeted almost 30,000 times by early yesterday evening.
(© Daily Telegraph, London)