2 tropical storms race toward Southeast Asia

Two Pacific storms are barrelling toward Southeast Asia, prompting thousands to flee their homes in the Philippines and the Vietnam government to seek help from neighbouring countries.

Two Pacific storms arebarrelling toward Southeast Asia, prompting thousands to flee their homes in the Philippines and the Vietnam government to seek help from neighbouring countries.

In the Philippines, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ordered the evacuation Wednesday of thousands of people from their homes on the eastern island of Luzon ahead of the powerful tropical storm Mitag.

In one province alone, officials estimate up to 200,000 will leave their homes by the time the storm hits land on Friday.

Mitag is forecast to strengthen into a "super typhoon" before it makes landfall with winds of more than 220 km/h, the government chief forecaster Nathaniel Cruz said.

The storm was packing sustained winds of 85 km/h, with gusts up to 100 km/h, as it approached from the Philippine Sea, east of the archipelago.

Vietnam seeks help for fishermen

Meanwhile, Vietnam was asking for the Philippines and other nearby countries to give shelter to thousands of its fisherman as another tropical storm, Hagibis, threatened to wallop the Spratly archipelago.

The Spratlysare a cluster of dozens of small tropical islands and reefs in the South China Sea believed rich in minerals and fishandareclaimed by six countries.

Nearly 74,000 fisherman were working off Vietnam's coast in the path of Hagibis, and several dozen of them sought permission to take shelter at a Philippine island, the government said in a disaster report.

On Tuesday, Vietnam's Foreign Ministry sent out diplomatic notes to Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand asking them to help Vietnamese fisherman as the storm approached, Reuters reported.

Hagibis is expected to hit the Spratlys Wednesday and then track west toward Ho Chi Minh Cityby Friday, after which it will weaken into a tropical depression, the U.K.-based Tropical Storm Riskagency said on its website.

Towns devastated by Durian hit again

Meanwhile, Arroyo cut short a trip to Singapore for a summit and returned home Wednesday, a day earlier than scheduled because of concerns over Mitag.

Recent rains on Luzonislandhave saturated the ground around Mayon volcano, sparking fears of a repeat of the mudslides and flash floods that killed more than 1,000 people after last year's typhoon Durian.

Already, 900 people fled the nearby municipality of Camalig on Wednesday because of volcanic mudslides, the mayor told a Manila radio station, and the same communities devastated by Durian last year were again flooded.

The deadly 2006 storm caused volcanic debris to bury and wipe out entire villages.

People were also evacuated from their homes in Legazpi and Daraga, both near the volcano, Cedric Daep, executive officer of the Albay province disaster office, told the Associated Press.

He said many residents were terrified after the devastation last time.

"If we don't prepare now, they will be more scared," he said.

With files from the Associated Press