Vietnam braces for weakened Typhoon Durian

Typhoon Durian reared toward Vietnam's central coast Monday after burying an estimated 1,000 villagers under massive mudslides in the Philippines.

Typhoon Durian reared toward Vietnam's central coast Monday after burying an estimated1,000 villagers under massive mudslides in the Philippines.

Thousands of Vietnam residents in the south-central provinces abandoned their homes and sought safe shelter in anticipation of the typhoon, which is the name used in the northwest Pacific for hurricanes.

Meanwhile,rescue crews in the Philippines have begun the grim — and perhaps futile — task of searching for survivors left in its deadly path.

"It's almost impossible [to find survivors]," said Juan Garcia, the mayor of the devastated town of Guinobatan in the Philippines.

"They have been buried under sand and boulders. I don't think they can survive. It's impossible for anyone to survive."

The typhoon lashed the Philippines for five hours on Nov.30, with265 kilometre per hour winds that helped bring down walls of mud and boulders from the slopes of a nearby volcano.

Garcia said 186 bodies had been recovered and more than 300 were still missing in his village alone.

Official figures for the countryshowed 450 dead, 507 injured and 599 missing. Butthe head of the Philippines Red Cross, Richard Gordon, estimated thatmore than 1,000 people died in the landslides.

Thousands of Vietnamese urged to flee homes

Southern Vietnam is bracing for a weakened Durian, with diminished winds that still clocked in at 130 kilometres per hourby Monday.

Nearly 14,000 Vietnamese in the province of Phu Yen were moved to schools and government buildings, but another 10,000 have refused to leave their homes.

Meanwhile, soldiers and police ordered people to evacuatefrom high-risk areas in Khanh Hoa province before noon Monday, and all schools there were closed, provincial Gov. Vo Lam Phi said.

To the south, authorities in Ninh Thuan province are trying to force residents to move to safe zones, but about 2,000 have returned home.

So far strong winds have capsized boats, killing two fishermen in Phu Yen, and another is missing, disaster official Duong Van Huong said.

With files from the Associated Press