Hanoi (AFP) - Vietnam on Thursday ordered tens of thousands of people to evacuate its central coastal area as Typhoon Doksuri closed in, with officials predicting the storm could be the most powerful in a decade.
Doksuri is expected to make landfall in Vietnam midday Friday, packing heavy winds and rain.
Officials ordered an offshore fishing ban, while some 47,000 people in Ha Tinh province began leaving their homes Thursday, according to an official from the Vietnam Disaster Management Authority who declined to be named.
The storm is forecast to lash four central provinces with heavy rain and winds of up to 155 kilometres per hour (96 miles per hour), according to the Hong Kong Observatory.
Panicked residents fortified their homes and hauled boats in from the water on Thursday.
"We have prepared sandbags to put on the roof so when the storm arrives it won't be blown off," Nguyen Thi Que, a resident of Ha Tinh province, said on state-controlled news site Zing.
Further evacuations are expected in neighbouring Quang Binh, Nghe An and Quang Tri provinces.
"(We) have to evacuate people resolutely, even forcefully... to avoid any casualties when the storm arrives," Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung said Thursday, according to footage on Zing.
Vietnam issued a category four "danger" warning, the second most severe of its five-tier warning system, as disaster management officials said it will be the worst storm to hit Vietnam in 10 years.
The government said it had 250,000 soldiers on standby along with a fleet of vehicles and boats at the ready.
Vietnam has already been hit by severe weather this year, with 140 people dead or missing in natural disasters since January, according to official figures.
Around 235 people were reported dead and missing last year due to flooding and bad weather in Vietnam. Authorities estimated the losses at $1.7 billion.
The Southeast Asian nation is routinely hit by tropical storms from around May to October, with its central coast most frequently affected.