By Fr. Scott Binet MD, MI
Typhoon Ketsana caused widespread destruction in several countries in Southeast Asia including the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam ( See Map) . The suffering has been tremendous and widespread. CTF Philippines has been actively responding to the disaster and helping many in Metropolitan Manila since the moment Typhoon Ketsana hit on September 27, 2009. (See Typhoon Ketsana 1-5 in various languages).
Less publicized in the media has been the suffering Typhoon Ketsana caused in Vietnam (see map). The headlines the next day after it came ashore read: “23 dead as Typhoon Ketsana roars into Vietnam”. Here is an excerpt from an article written by TRAN VAN MINH (AP) on Tue Sep 29, 10:14 am ET
HANOI, Vietnam – Typhoon Ketsana roared into central Vietnam on Tuesday, killing at least 23 people as it brought flooding and winds of up to 90 mph (144 kph), disaster officials said. Some 170,000 were evacuated from its path. Ketsana left more than 200 dead across the northern Philippines as a weaker tropical storm. After gathering strength over the South China Sea, the typhoon made landfall in midafternoon, about 37 miles (60 kilometers) south of Danang (see map), according to the National Weather Center. Two people in Quang Nam province were killed by falling trees, and another died when struck by a power line, said Nguyen Minh Tuan, a provincial disaster official.”The rivers are rising and many homes are flooded, and several mountainous districts have been isolated by mudslides,” Tuan said. Another three died in Thua Thien Hue province, disaster official Le Minh said. A man was killed by a falling tree, a woman died in floodwaters and a 3-year-old drowned in a flooded home.
As the storm moved inland toward Laos, nine people died in Kon Tum province in the Central Highlands, including a family of five whose house was buried in a mudslide, disaster official Nguyen Van Vy said. Deaths were also reported in Danang and the province of Binh Dinh and Quang Ngai. Authorities evacuated 170,000 people from six central provinces as the typhoon approached and heavy winds began lashing Vietnam’s central coast in the morning, officials said.
“There’s a blackout across our entire province,” said Truong Ngoc Nhi, vice governor of Quang Ngai province, south of Danang. “Streets are strewn with fallen trees and utility poles. It looks like a battlefield.”
The Camillians have been in Vietnam for only a few years. They are now 4: 3 priests and 1 deacon. These Camillians received their formation in Thailand or the Philippines, and then they were sent to Vietnam, a country where it has been quite difficult to practice Catholicism openly. At present the Camillians in Vietnam fall under the authority of Thailand, a vice-province that is part of the Lombardo-Venetian Province in Italy. There are presently more than 10 men from Vietnam studying to be Camillians in Thailand – a great sign of hope.
I recently spoke with Fr. John Toai, MI when he was in Rome to attend an international conference on HIV and children. Fr. John, a nurse by profession, has together with his confreres made the Camillians well-known in Vietnam for taking care of the sick – especially those with AIDS.
Fr. John told me about the devastation that Typhoon Ketsana caused in Vietnam, indicating that he and others were already responding to the disaster. Upon Fr. John’s return to Vietnam he gave me an update on what is happening. On 10/28, Fr. John writes:
John Phuong Dinh Toai, MI
Mai Tam shelter
Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City
Add: 180 Nguyen Dinh Chieu St., Dist 3.
Ho Chi Minh City- Vietnam
CTF Central together with SOS DRS will look to support Fr. John and his collaborators in their disaster relief efforts. And we will keep you up-to-date on any developments. In the meantime, let us keep the people affected by Typhoon Ketsana in the Philippines, Vietnam and elsewhere in our prayers.