Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Pearl of the Orient

Leaving behind a path of destruction and 240 dead and climbing in the Philippines, hurricane Ketsana has now become a full-scale typhoon as it barrels down on central Vietnam, raising fears of another catastrophic downpour.

The storm is stronger now than when it ripped through the Philippines, with winds of more than 100 miles per hour. The eye of the storm, with even stronger winds of 126 miles per hour, was expected to touch down at 1 p.m. local time in Vietnam.

But authorities there appeared ready, with 100,000 people from flood prone villages already evacuated, and residents in Central Vietnam advised to stockpile food, water, and medicine. Vietnam is hoping to avoid the calamity that caught the Philippines largely off guard.

Few of the common people in the Metro Manila area even knew about this storm before it hit, or were aware of its potential for damage. There was apparently no concern within the government, no system of early warning, no system of evacuation, no system of relief. There has been no attempt over the years to build a decent municipal drainage system, which exacerbated the urban flooding. It really is appalling. The human toll that natural disasters inflict is, to a large extent, determined by the capability of the government.

1 "Storm that flooded Philippines gathers strength, heads to Vietnam" - Christian Science Monitor

2 "Relief efforts overwhelmed" - Phil Star

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