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Natural Disasters Pound Southeast Asia, Including Typhoon Ketsana

  • Diane Wuthrich and Ethan Gelber
  • 2 October 2009

It came as a triple whammy for which no one was prepared: Tuesday’s major undersea earthquake in the South Pacific triggered a tsunami that left hundreds dead and devastated the coastlines of Samoa and American Samoa; two pummelling tectonic shakedowns on the Indonesian island of Sumatra have produced heaps of rubble beneath which thousands are feared trapped; all while the world deplored the wind- and water-lashed aftermath of last weekend’s Typhoon Ketsana, which slammed into the Philippines and left a path of destruction across Vietnam and Cambodia as well.

Residents of Manila do their best to come to grips with life in a city left flooded by Typhoon Ketsana

Residents of Manila do their best to come to grips with life in a city left flooded by Typhoon Ketsana

In the Philippines, the typhoon began on Friday evening with rain and wind warnings from the local weather centre. Torrential downpours continued into the night and throughout the day on Saturday. Utterly unrelenting, the rains quickly turned into floods and by Saturday afternoon, Metro Manila was inundated.

With the heaviest precipitation in 40 years, Typhoon Ketsana dropped 17.9 inches of rain on the Philippine capital – a month’s worth of rainfall all in 24 hours. At the height of the flood, 80% of Manila was submerged.

Cars in Manila were no match for the force of the waters dropped by Typhoon Ketsana

Cars in Manila were no match for the force of the waters dropped by Typhoon Ketsana

The storm affected some 2 million people, wreaking havoc on lives and land. At the time of writing, there are approximately 300 reported dead, 38 missing and more than 500,000 evacuees.

Unexpected strong currents pushed flood waters into people’s homes, turned many of Manila’s busy streets into swimming pools and tossed floating vehicles around as if they were toys. Scuba divers and surfers were called on to volunteer in the search for missing people. Survivors were rescued from the roofs of their homes, some after 10-hour waits in the cold downpour. No one was spared.

Ketsana’s destructive impact left behind a nation in pain. Even before the floods subsided completely, civilians of all ages had mobilised and rescue and relief efforts were underway. Facebook, Twitter and text messages carried news about which relief centres needed which goods the most, as well as notices with further weather warnings, alerts about missing people and other critical information needed for rescue operations.

Due to the significant clean-up costs, the Philippines is pleading for help from other nations. Manila alone needs everything it can get to repair the mess. Although closets, cupboards and wallets are being emptied to provide relief to the hundreds of thousands of displaced victims of the typhoon and floods, more is required, especially since relief operations will probably continue at east until the end of the year. Even intangible support is welcome – comfort, warmth and love shared with the poor traumatised children who have lost their families.

“I’m going to Manila first thing tomorrow,” reported one staff member who works with the whl.travel partner in Boracay in the Philippines. “Another super typhoon is hitting and I’m freaking out. I’ve got to be with my parents. Things have been crazy and emotional for a week already – it’s surreal. That’s climate change for you.”

Rescue efforts began immediately, everyone able to help a neighbour reaching out as necessary

Rescue efforts began immediately, everyone able to help a neighbour reaching out as necessary

[Update: On 3 October, eight days after Ketsana moved on, Typhoon Parma made landfall in the Philippines. Although Manila escaped the worst, the northeastern tip of Luzon was hit hard and the southern villages of Taiwan were evacuating.]

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Asia, cities, local knowledge, natural disasters, Oceania, personal experience, Philippines, Polynesia, Samoa, South-Eastern Asia, weather extremes, whl.travel,

One Response to “Natural Disasters Pound Southeast Asia, Including Typhoon Ketsana”

  1. detoxdiet says:

    it is very unfortunate for our Filipino and Vietnamese brothers to be hit by typhoon Ketsana. i have seen the massive flooding and the flood victims on TV and it is really horrible.

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