Death tolls rise in disaster-struck Asia

MANILA, October 3, 2009 (AFP) – The death toll from a week of catastrophes in the Asia-Pacific rose to 1,680 Saturday as the region struggled to cope with a freak series of earthquakes, tsunamis and typhoons.

At least 139 people were feared dead in Samoa alone, with 129 confirmed killed and 10 missing. Another 32 were confirmed dead in neighbouring American Samoa and nine in Tonga, about 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) away.

“Volunteers are still finding bodies and as time goes on the chances of finding people alive are slimmer and slimmer,” said Rosemarie North of the Samoa Red Cross. “I think we have to assume the missing are probably dead.”

There was little respite for countries struck by typhoons and tropical storms barely a week ago.

Still mopping up after last week’s tropical storm Ketsana, the Philippines was Saturday being pummelled by Typhoon Parma, which ripped open houses and cut off power lines as it smashed into the country’s north.

However, the typhoon veered away from Manila, sparing millions of people who were struggling to recover from massive rains that submerged most of the nation’s capital last weekend, leaving 293 people dead.

“The wind is very, very angry,” sai