HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam — Typhoon Ketsana headed west toward Laos Wednesday after battering central Vietnam with powerful winds and heavy rain, leaving behind blue and sunny skies but dangerously rising flood waters. The official death toll was placed at 41, but officials said that number was expected to rise as more reports came in and as floodwaters threatened further destruction.
“The rain was heavy and the wind was like crazy,” said Nguyen Trong Tung, a photographer, describing the scene in a telephone call from Danang. “Right now the sun is beautiful, there are white clouds and the sky is blue and the streets are already clear.”
The clear weather is deceptive and the danger has not passed, said Andrew Wells-Dang, a representative of Catholic Relief Services, who called Ketsana “the most serious typhoon that’s hit here in four or five years.”
“The casualty figures will get worse over the next days as more reports come in and also as the river levels rise from rain up in the mountains that will cause more flooding,” he said in a telephone call from the capital, Hanoi. The floods could reach the historic highs of 1964, said Le Van Duong, a relief and disaster mitigation coordinator for World Vision, speaking by telephone from Danang.