Typhoon Ketsana Rips Through Vietnam, Killing at Least 23

Storm kills at least 23 in Vietnam, forces evacuation of more than 170,000.

ByClarissa Ward and Sadie Bass
September 29, 2009, 3:36 PM

Sept. 29, 2009— -- Typhoon Ketsana continued her destructive path Tuesday, raging through central Vietnam. Rivers swelled to record highs, causing street flooding as fierce winds tore through towns. The storm has killed at least 23 in Vietnam and forced the evacuation of more than 170,000 from six central provinces.

Ketsana began her course in the Philippines as a weaker tropical storm on Saturday, killing more than 200 people. The storm dumped 16 inches of rain in just 12 hours -- equivalent to the average rainfall for an entire month, and caused the worst flooding in 40 years.

Ketsana hit near the capital of Manila with devastating effects. Many who returned to the Philippines today found there was little left.

As people bury their dead, dozens are still missing.

"I did not know what happened. We were on top of a roof but we got separated," said Gingery Comprendio, a mother of five. "The next day when I came back to our house, I saw my eldest already dead and my aunt saw my other child buried in the mud." Three of Comprendio's children perished and two are still missing, along with her husband.

Nearly half a million people have been displaced and more than 300,000 are living in shelters. Philippine officials have scrambled to organize relief efforts, facing harsh criticism for the government's slow response. Extra police were ordered to control looting in communities abandoned by residents who left in search of food, water and shelter.

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's administration said it was doing all it could and appealed to the international community for help. The president opened part of the presidential palace as a shelter and said her administration would donate two months' salary to those in need.

The U.S. donated $100,000 and sent 20 soldiers who were already in the region for counterterrorism training. The United Nations Children's Fund and the World Food Program have also offered aid.

New Storms Forming in Pacific

Ketsana is rapidly losing strength as she crosses into Laos and has been downgraded to a tropical storm. Mountains in the area are stripping the wind away, but river levels are still rising.

Three more tropical storms are brewing in the Pacific -- tropical storm Parma is near the islands of Micronesia, and it is predicted to become a typhoon over the Philippine Sea in the next two days. There is also a tropical depression north of Micronesia, heading toward Guam, and a tropical depression near the Marshall Islands.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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