Vietnam, Oct 1 – Millions of flood-hit survivors of devastating Typhoon Ketsana waited desperately for aid and braced for a new super storm on Thursday as the disaster’s death toll climbed to 383.
One of the most destructive storms in recent years, Ketsana wreaked havoc in the Philippines at the weekend then strengthened over the South China Sea to batter Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand.
The Philippines early Thursday raised the number of confirmed dead from Ketsana to 277, Vietnam to 92 and Cambodia to 14, while aid groups said 10 people were missing in Laos. Related article: Philippines braced for new storm
In Manila, nearly 700,000 people swamped makeshift government-run shelters amid fears that a storm east of the Philippines could develop into a ‘super typhoon’ and lash areas still reeling from Ketsana.
"We are dealing with a very strong typhoon, so we should be at the highest level of preparedness," state weather bureau spokesman Nathaniel Cruz said as Typhoon Parma churned towards the Philippines, with landfall expected Saturday.
Authorities said they would forcibly evacuate any residents who refused to flee the path of the new storm.
Parma was packing gusts of up to 185 kilometres per hour (115 miles per hour). The government defines a super typhoon as one with sustained winds of 175-200 kph and the potential to cause severe damage.
Ketsana dumped the heaviest rains in more than four decades on Manila and surrounding areas, submerging most of the capital. At least 2.5 million people have been affected, the government said. Related article: Asia’s natural disasters
Vietnam, meanwhile, intensified efforts and dispatched army helicopters to bring food and water to stranded victims of Ketsana, which has been downgraded to a tropical depression since Wednesday. Related article: Vietnam rescue efforts
A sea of brown flood water surrounded houses in Quang Nam province, where the typhoon made landfall on Tuesday, with few signs of life in the area, observed an AFP reporter on board a chopper.
Residents in the province complained that help has been slow to reach them, while officials said the scale of the disaster made aid delivery difficult.
"We haven’t received any relief or noodles or clean water from the authorities but we try to help each other," said Huynh Ba Phuong, 38, a construction worker living in a flooded house with his wife and two teenage children.
Authorities said the 92 victims, whose deaths were announced by the national flood and storm control committee in Hanoi, died mostly in landslides or by drowning in floodwaters. Another 19 people were missing.
Around 400,000 people have fled their homes, Vietnamese authorities and the United Nations said. The government estimated the damage at 120 million dollars.
In the historic tourist town of Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage site, water levels have begun to recede, officials said.
In impoverished Cambodia, people sifted through the muddy wreckage of their smashed wooden homes to recover meagre possessions after Ketsana’s rampage.
Thousands of Cambodians were affected and the storm had also flooded large swathes of Siem Reap province, home to the famed Angkor Wat temples, officials said.
"My everything, including rice, is destroyed. We are staying under a tent, filled with fear," wept Ket Suon, 43, in the village of Toek Mleang, where nine people died.
In Thailand, flooding hit eight northeastern districts and 3,000 people were evacuated to higher ground, where authorities provided them with tents, the Interior Ministry’s Disaster Prevention and Mitigation department said.
Several empty tourist boats sank in large waves near the tourist resort of Pattaya, the Bangkok Post reported.
Typhoons Ketsana and Parma come as the Asia Pacific region is already under strain from a devastating earthquake in Indonesia and killer tsunamis in Samoa.