Storm Kai-Tak approaches Vietnam’s waters after wreaking havoc in the Philippines

A tropical storm that has been ravaging the Philippines will be entering the East Sea, known internationally as the South China Sea, on Monday, becoming the 15th storm this year in Vietnam’s waters.

At 1 p.m. on Sunday, storm Kai-Tak was in central Philippines, with wind speeds of up to 75 kilometers (47 miles) per hour, according to the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting (NCHMF).

Over the next 24 hours, Kai-Tak will move west-southwest at 15-20 kph. By 4 a.m. on Monday, it will be over the Philippines’ Palawan Island with wind speeds remaining unchanged.

After entering the East Sea, the storm is forecast to strengthen with wind speeds of up to 90 kph, according to the NCHMF. The storm, however, is unlikely to hit Vietnam’s mainland.

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Storm Kai-Tak’s path as forecast by NCHMF.

While agreeing on Kai-Tak’s path, international forecasting stations however offer different predictions on its strength. Hong Kong’s forecasting station also predicts the storm would strengthen, but University College London’s Tropical Storm Risk claims it would weaken.

Storm Kai-Tak strengthened from a tropical depression east of the Philippines on Thursday before making landfall in the archipelago nation.

Kai-Tak tore across the major islands of Samar and Leyte on Saturday, toppling power lines in 39 towns or cities and damaging roads and bridges, the country’s national disaster agency said.

Some 87,700 people were forced from their homes in the region.

“There is a total of 26 people dead from landslides in four towns of Biliran. We have recovered the bodies,” Sofronio Dacillo, provincial disaster risk reduction and management officer, told AFP.

Gerardo Espina, governor of the island province just east of Leyte, said 23 people were missing in an interview on ABS-CBN television.

Kai-Tak weakened on Sunday afternoon and was reclassified as a tropical depression by Philippine weather forecasters.

According to forecasters, more storms and tropical depressions can be expected over the next three months in the south of the East Sea.

There is also a strong chance that the 2018 stormy season will start earlier than usual in the north of the East Sea.

There have been 14 storms so far this year in the East Sea including Typhoon Damrey, which inflicted heavy damage on the south-central region in early November.

According to official reports, natural disasters left 390 people dead or missing in Vietnam in the first 11 months of the year and injured 657 others, while causing damage worth around VND52.2 trillion ($2.34 billion).