A woman inspecting the damage triggered by the collapse of a telecommunications antenna on the house where she was hiding from Typhoon Wutip with her three children in the Quang Ninh district of Vietnam's central Quang Binh province. Image Credit: AFP

Hanoi: At least three people were killed and 26 others injured as Typhoon Wutip slammed into central Vietnam, leaving more than 70 fishermen missing and a trail of devastation in its wake, reports said on Tuesday.

Some 250,000 houses were destroyed or damaged and tens of thousands of hectares of crops were flooded after the typhoon — packing winds of up to 103 kilometres an hour — hit the communist country late on Monday, state media reported.

In China, navy warships and aircraft were deployed to search for survivors after three Chinese fishing boats sank in rough waters whipped up by Typhoon Wutip.

More than 70 people were reported missing, Beijing’s official Xinhua news agency reported, citing maritime authorities.

By early Tuesday, the typhoon had weakened to a tropical depression and moved over neighbouring Laos, Vietnamese meteorologists said.

Two people were killed in Vietnam’s central Quang Binh province after strong winds toppled a radio station antenna as the storm hit on Monday.

A 14-year-old boy also died in the province after falling from a roof.

Electricity supplies in many areas in central Vietnam were also disrupted, the VNExpress news site reported.

High winds ripped the roofs off houses and uprooted trees while torrential rains flooded villages and destroyed crops, the report added.

No official estimate of the potential cost of storm damage was available early on Tuesday.

More than 70,000 people had been evacuated from high-risk coastal areas ahead of the storm, officials said.

Experts warn that heavy rain following the typhoon could cause flooding and landslides in affected areas, which include top tourist attractions — the Unesco-listed Hoi An town and the ancient capital of Hue.

Vietnam is hit by an average of eight to 10 tropical storms every year, which often cause heavy material and human losses.

In recent weeks, floods have killed at least 24 people in Vietnam and claimed 30 lives in Cambodia as well as 22 in Thailand.