Typhoon Ketsana death toll jumps to 162

Typhoon Ketsana has killed 162 in Vietnam while hundreds more have been injured or made homeless, local officials said on Sunday. The Red Cross has launched an appeal to help more than 200,000 of the neediest storm victims.


AFP - The death toll from Typhoon Ketsana in Vietnam jumped to 162 on Sunday with hundreds more injured, an official said, adding urgency to a Red Cross appeal launched to help more than 200,000 storm victims.

Another 13 people remain missing and 616 were injured, said the official from the national flood and storm control committee in Hanoi, who declined to be named.

Ketsana affected 14 provinces when it made landfall on Tuesday, according to officials, but about half the deaths happened in just two areas: the central fishing province of Quang Ngai and mountainous Kon Tum.

There were 47 dead in Kon Tum and 33 in Quang Ngai, officials from the flood and storm committees in those provinces said on Sunday.

Vietnam suffers annually from tropical storms and typhoons, but the disaster is one of the worst to hit the nation in recent years.

An estimated three million people in Vietnam have been affected by the typhoon, said the Red Cross, which on Friday launched an international appeal for 4.75 million dollars to help 210,000 of the neediest victims.

The Red Cross said it needs help to provide rice, fresh water, and rebuild destroyed homes.

"We are very happy to receive any support, money or goods," Doan Van Thai, secretary general of the Vietnam Red Cross Society, told AFP on Saturday.

Thai, who had just returned from the disaster zone, recalled victims weeping over their loss.

"They said they didn't know how to live in the near future because they have nothing: no food, no fresh water...even no seeds, fertilizer."

Vietnam's Red Cross will be supported by the Geneva-based International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which approved the appeal.

Thai said donations from Australia and the International Red Cross already helped his organisation meet one of its goals: providing 10,000 kits containing basic household items, including blankets, mosquito nets and kitchen utensils.

With thousands of volunteers across the typhoon-struck central region, the Red Cross is the largest organisation assisting victims, Thai said.

When the typhoon hit, local Red Cross chapters released food, water, instant noodles, boats and other relief items from their stockpiles, the agency said.

Those supplies are now running out, it added.

This year's death toll exceeds the fatalities when Tropical Storm Durian killed at least 70 in the country's south, and Typhoon Xangsane left more than 70 dead in central Vietnam. Both occurred in 2006.

 Some residents in stricken areas said the flooding this year was as bad as a decade ago, while the very elderly said they had last seen a typhoon with Ketsana's force in 1964, Thai said.

 Winds from the typhoon reached up to 149 kilometres (90 miles) per hour, officials said.

Ketsana caused devastation across Southeast Asia, killing at least 293 people in the Philippines before striking Vietnam. It also claimed 17 lives in Cambodia and 24 in Laos.

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