Typhoon Ketsana hit the Philippines first (277 dead), then moving towards Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia (11 dead). Entire areas of South-East Asia were devastated, killing almost 400 people, a number destined to rise.
In central Vietnam, strong winds swept the region, with water levels topping three metres in some areas. A state of emergency has been declared in Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Tinh to Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Quang Nam. Even Vietnam’s ancient capital of Hue has not spared.
In addition to counting the dead, the authorities are also estimating the damages to property.
A large number of public buildings and businesses as well as private homes have suffered damages. So far, a total 5,796 houses were smashed, collapsed or were swept away. Another 163,011 lost their roofing because of the wind, and 215 schools and construction sites collapsed or suffered damages. A total 12,269 medical stations suffered the same fate.
However, farmers suffered most. At the best of time, they lead a hard life. Because of the typhoon, they lost some 50,000 rice fields, produce gardens and fruit orchards as well as 1,602 hectares of fish and shrimp ponds, all under a massive amount of water.
Mgr Nguyen Van Nhon, chairman of the Bishops’ Council of Vietnam, called on the faithful to help typhoon victims through fund raising, aid collection and prayer, expressing closeness to them in this, their moment of difficulty.
Government media have begun warning people that the main task now is to move people displaced by the disaster to places of safety and make sure that “no one goes hungry.”
Even as the final toll in human and material terms is not yet complete, the Philippines and other South-East Asian nations are already bracing for Parma, a new tropical storm that should strike the Filipino archipelago tomorrow and Saturday, where it is expected to pack an even bigger punch than Ketsana.