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Southeast Asian typhoon devastation kills 331

world Updated: Sep 30, 2009 21:04 IST

Typhoon Ketsana extended its destructive rampage through Southeast Asia on Wednesday, blowing away whole villages in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos as the regional death toll rose to 331.

The storm has unleashed some of the worst flooding in a decade to hit the region, having already submerged most of the Philippine capital at the weekend, and governments are struggling to help more than two million survivors.

"I have never seen such a strong wind in my life," Pang Phot, a police officer in Cambodia's badly hit Sandann district, told AFP by telephone.

"Many wooden houses were immediately blown away and many others collapsed to the ground. It was raining heavily and people could not flee their homes because the wind hit immediately," he said.

Ketsana killed 246 people in the Philippines while still a weaker tropical storm, before strengthening over the South China Sea and smashing into Vietnam yesterday, leaving another 74 dead from flooding and landslides.

It moved inland to lash Cambodia overnight, killing 11 more people, and caused meter-high floods in Laos today where it was downgraded to a tropical depression.

Authorities in northeastern Thailand were also on high alert but said there had been no damage yet.