One of the most destructive storms in years extended its deadly path across Southeast Asia, blowing down wooden villages in Cambodia and crushing Vietnamese houses under mudslides after submerging much of the Philippine capital.

The death toll today climbed past 300 and was rising. “We’re used to storms that sweep away one or two houses.

But I’ve never seen a storm this strong,” said Nam Tum, governor of Cambodia’s Kampong Thom province.

The immediate threat was easing as Typhoon Ketsana was downgraded to a tropical depression as it crossed Wednesday into a fourth nation, Laos. But its powerful winds and pummelling rain left a snaking trail of destruction.

Landslides triggered by the storm slammed into houses in central Vietnam yesterday, burying at least seven people including five members of the same family, the government said. They were among 52 people killed in the country, some by falling trees, officials said.

The storm destroyed or damaged nearly 170,000 homes and flattened crops across six central Vietnamese provinces, officials said. More than 350,000 people were evacuated from the typhoon’s path, posing a logistical headache to shelter and feed them.

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