(dpa) - With a tropical depression gathering strength as it heads toward Vietnam, forecasters predicted the country would face more severe floods and storms this year than in 2007, an official said Tuesday.
"There will be more typhoons hitting Vietnam this year than last year, including strong and dangerous ones, due to La Nina," said Bui Minh Tang, director of the National Hydrometeorology Forecast Centre, referring to the irregular appearance of cold temperatures in the waters of the equatorial Pacific.
With its long coastline and low-lying delta regions, Vietnam is among the countries hardest-hit by global warming, according to climate surveys. Each year, the country faces dozens of storms and typhoons, which often cause deadly floods and landslides.
Floods and storm killed more than 300 people in Vietnam last year, including about 90 killed by Typhoon Lekima and the floods it triggered in early October.
According to the National Hydrometeorology Forecast Centre, a tropical depression packing wind of up to 61 kilometers an hour was heading for central Vietnam.
By Tuesday morning, the depression was 1,000 kilometres east of Ho Chi Minh City and moving at 15 to 20 kilometres an hour, the centre said.
"The depression is forecast to become a tropical storm by Tuesday night, becoming the first storm to hit Vietnam this year," Tang said.
Earlier this month, hail fell in many provinces in northern Vietnam, injuring at least 20 people and damaging nearly 100 houses.