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Vietnam evacuates tens of thousands as powerful typhoon approaches; China reports 75 missing

Tens of thousands of people were being evacuated from high-risk areas in central Vietnam on Monday as a typhoon that sank at least two Chinese fishing ships neared the coast.

A total of 75 fishermen are missing after three vessels encountered strong winds near the Paracel Islands, according to a statement on the website of the Hainan government in south China. Two of the vessels sank Sunday and contact with the third has been lost, it said.

Typhoon Wutip was expected to hit the central coast later Monday with sustained winds of up to 93 miles per hour and gusts up to 125 mph, Vietnam's weather forecaster said. Heavy rains were expected.

Disaster official Le Tri Cong said more than 8,000 villagers in Quang Tri province's coastal areas were evacuated to safe places as of Sunday night and 35,000 others from areas facing with serious flooding, landslides and flash floods are being evacuated.

More than 140,000 people in four other central provinces are planned for evacuation Monday, the central floods and storms control committee said on its website.

Schools in five central provinces were closed and coast guards told 61,000 fishing boats with 303,000 crew members to take shelter, the committee said.

Two government teams were dispatched to direct the preparation efforts, the committee said.

Wutip is the strongest typhoon to hit Vietnam this season. The most powerful Asian tropical storm this year was Typhoon Usagi, which caused at least 33 deaths in the Philippines and China earlier this month.

Vietnam is prone to floods and storms which kill hundreds of people and cause millions of dollars in damage each year.