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Archive for Thursday, October 1, 2009

Typhoon devastates southeast Asia

October 1, 2009

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— A new typhoon gathered strength today off the Philippines while nearly 700,000 people still sought help in badly stretched relief centers from massive flooding caused by Ketsana, one of the region’s most destructive storms in years.

Ketsana prompted the worst flooding in the northern Philippines in 40 years when it struck Saturday, and then continued its deadly path across Southeast Asia, blowing down wooden villages in Cambodia and crushing Vietnamese houses under mudslides on Tuesday.

The death toll climbed today to 362 and was still rising.

“We’re used to storms that sweep away one or two houses. But I’ve never seen a storm this strong,” said Nam Tum, governor of Cambodia’s Kampong Thom province.

The immediate threat from Ketsana eased as it was downgraded to a tropical depression as it crossed into a fourth nation, Laos. But its powerful winds and pummeling rain left a snaking trail of destruction.

Meanwhile, another typhoon gained strength as it moved toward the hard-hit northern Philippines. Typhoon Parma was 404 miles off the country’s eastern coast today but was already bringing rain to eastern provinces.

Packing winds of 93 miles per hour with gusts of up to 115 mph, Parma was expected to hit land Saturday in the northeastern Philippines, weather forecaster Rommel Yutoc said.

Landslides triggered by Ketsana slammed into houses in central Vietnam on Tuesday, burying people including five members of the same family, the government said. The country’s toll rose to 74 as officials recovered more bodies from the muck and swollen rivers, with 179 injured and a dozen missing, the government said late Wednesday.

It said the storm destroyed or damaged nearly 180,000 homes, inundated 150,000 more, and flattened crops across central Vietnam. More than 350,000 people were evacuated from the typhoon’s path, posing a logistical headache to shelter and feed them.

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