HANOI (AFP) - Thousands of people in Vietnam sought shelter as a powerful tropical storm barrelled towards its northern coast on Friday after slamming into southeast China and killing 43 people in the Philippines. Schools shut and flights were cancelled ahead of the storm, which weakened from a typhoon after devastating the Philippines' main island of Luzon earlier in the week. Beijing, which had issued its first red typhoon alert of the year, downgraded Nesat to a "strong tropical storm" which slowed at sea after forcing 300,000 people to evacuate on the tropical island of Hainan.