A devastating combination of tsunamis, earthquakes and typhoons imposed a huge death toll on a vast stretch of the Asia-Pacific region this week.
The places hit by these disasters extended from Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines to Indonesia and as far away as the Pacific and American Samoa.
The final count of the death toll and assessment of damage in these places was nowhere near complete.
However, various reports and official figures thus far show more than 100 people died in the tsunami-deluged Samoas, more than 500 died in Wednesday’s 7.6 magnitude earthquake in West Sumatra in the perennially quake-prone Indonesia, while the Tropical Storm-turned-Typhoon Ketsana killed more than 300 as it devastated a three-nation swath across the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia.
Massive relief efforts were under way in the Philippines, where supplies were getting stretched to help more than 500,000 people flooded out of their homes mostly in the Manila area. Authorities feared outbreaks of disease as the flooding brought in mud, filth and carcasses from the city’s polluted river.
In the midst of the chaos, the Philippines also was threatened Thursday by another typhoon currently about 400 miles off the northeastern coast.
In Vietnam and neighboring Cambodia, flooding and landslides continued in the wake of Ketsana which Thursday headed toward Laos as a tropical depression but with potential to bring heavy rains.
For now, the major concern was about Indonesia, where the earthquake had trapped thousands of people beneath the rubble of collapsed structures including buildings, homes, hotels and bridges. In Padang, capital of Sumatra, a hospital also was knocked down trapping an unknown number of people.
The death toll was expected to far exceed what is known so far.
The disaster revived memories of the horror of the December 2004 tsunami that killed more than 230,000 mostly in Indonesia but also in Thailand, Sri Lanka and India.