The deaths took the known toll to at least 45 in Damrey's rampage across the main Philippine island of Luzon, the southern Chinese island of Hainan - where the economic damage was estimated at $1.2 billion - Vietnam, Laos and northern Thailand.

Despite waning after hitting land in Vietnam on Tuesday, Damrey - meaning elephant in the Khmer language - was still pounding wide areas on Thursday with heavy rain.

And water spilling from a cracked dam threatened the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai.

The city threw up walls of sandbags 5 metres high in vulnerable areas along the river, but the top official in the region said the water was seeping relatively slowly from the reservoir, which has a capacity of 2 million cubic metres.

"We are keeping eyes on the water level, but we are quite sure we can hold it," Chiang Mai governor Suwat Tantipat said.

Vietnam hit hard

Vietnam, where nine people are known to have been killed, issued flood warnings after Damrey's 130-kph winds and 5-m sea surges shattered sections of a network of sea dykes protecting a key rice growing area.

The typhoon has heavily damaged
houses

Sections crumpled in four provinces, power supplies and telecommunications were hit and thousands of homes swamped.

The government said at least 180,000 ha of rice in seven provinces were damaged.

An official in Yen Bai province, 180km northwest of Hanoi, said soldiers were searching for 19 people swept away by flash floods on Tuesday night after recovering four bodies.

The area in Vietnam most likely to suffer floods was the province of Ninh Binh, 90km south of Hanoi, the government's Committee for Flood and Storm Prevention said.

The lashing rains Damrey brought were swelling rivers very quickly and it ordered five other northern provinces to further reinforce dykes.

The rains also struck Laos, where the government said it had no immediate reports of major damage.

"We've had heavy rain all night and we are monitoring the flooding situation closely, but there is nothing major so far. Just some roofing gone," Lao government spokesman Yong Chanhthalansy said.

Oil unaffected

But the typhoon had no impact on crude oil output as Vietnam's offshore rigs are well to the south.

The government said it was rushing emergency food and supplies to devastated areas to which 330,000 evacuees returned only to find homes and rice fields under water.

"We are keeping eyes on the water level, but we are quite sure we can hold it"

Suwat Tantipat,
Chiang Mai governor

Nguyen Thi Nguyet, general-secretary of the Vietnam Food Association, said the government was expected to take food relief from national reserves and it would have no impact on exports.

"Rice from the region's warehouses can be used to meet the food demand," she told reporters. "Besides, the region is also harvesting a crop with higher yields this year."

The northern region, incorporating the Red River Delta, is Vietnam's second-largest rice growing area after the Mekong Delta in the south.

It produces about 36% of Vietnam's rice, which is used mainly for domestic consumption.

Shrimp and fish farms in the area also suffered typhoon damage and the disruption to production will reduce supplies of vegetables and seafood to regional markets, including Hanoi, home to 3 million people where prices have already started rising.