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People recover motorbikes from a flooded fields while the Doksuri storm hits in Ha Tinh province, Vietnam September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kham(reuters_tickers)
By Kham Nguyen and Minh Nguyen
HA TINH, Vietnam (Reuters) - Typhoon Doksuri tore a destructive path across central Vietnam on Friday, flooding hundreds of thousands of homes, whipping off roofs and knocking out power in the country's most powerful storm in years.
One man was killed when he slipped as he was trying to shore up his restaurant, media said. Another drowned in heavy rain that preceded the arrival of the storm on Thursday.
Nearly 80,000 people had been evacuated from Vietnam's densely populated coastal strip in preparation for Doksuri. Winds exceeded 130 km (80 miles) per hour, according to Vietnam's meteorological agency.
"It looks terrible, worse than war time," said Tran Thi Hong, principal of the Ky Xuan kindergarten in Ha Tinh province, which lost its entire roof in the storm. "I could just cry, it took us so long to build this school," she said.
Ha Tinh and Quang Binh provinces bore the brunt of the storm and power cuts were widespread after the wind brought down electricity poles along with trees and billboards.
In Quang Binh, some 200,000 houses had been flooded or submerged, 5,000 had lost their roofs and 20 had collapsed, Le Minh Ngan, the vice chairman of the local People's Committee, told state television.
Four fishing boats sank as they were making their way back to land, state radio said. Many fishermen had dragged their small wooden boats into the streets of coastal towns to try to stop them from being carried away.
Around 40 flights were cancelled between the capital, Hanoi, in northern Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City, the commercial hub in the south.
The eye of the storm skirted Vietnam's most important coffee growing areas and the rains it brought were largely seen as beneficial to the trees, coffee traders said. Rice farmers had rushed to gather in what they could before Doksuri struck.
From Vietnam, the storm was expected to lose power as it headed towards the remote hills of eastern Laos, one of Southeast Asia's poorest countries.
Vietnam often suffers from destructive storms. Floods in northern Vietnam killed at least 26 people and washed away hundreds of homes in August. Last year, more than 200 people were killed in storms.
(Additional reporting by Mai Nguyen and Mi Nguyen; Writing by Matthew Tostevin; Editing by Nick Macfie)