Wednesday February 21, 2024

Dozens buried in Philippine landslide as China counts cost of Mangkhut

September 18, 2018

ITOGON, Philippines: Philippine rescuers on Monday searched desperately for dozens feared buried under a landslide unleashed by Typhoon Mangkhut, which also left a trail of destruction in Hong Kong and saw millions evacuated in southern China.

The confirmed death toll across the northern Philippines, where the main island of Luzon was mauled by fierce winds and rain, reached 65 and was expected to rise further given the number of missing.

Four more were killed in China´s southern province of Guangdong. Searchers used shovels and bare hands to dig through mounds of rocky soil in the northern Philippine mountain town of Itogon, where 11 bodies have been pulled from the rubble and dozens more may still be trapped after a landslide buried an emergency shelter.

Relatives of the missing were among those taking part in the search for survivors, with little hope they are still alive. "We believe that those people there, maybe 99 percent, are already dead," the town´s mayor Victorio Palangdan told reporters.

Tearful families surrounded a whiteboard bearing names of the dead and missing as others inspected recovered bodies for signs these could be their loved ones. Joan Catteg, 42, told AFP her missing cousin Harvey had taken shelter at the bunkhouse. "He texted his wife not to worry. He said nothing bad will happen to him and that once the rain stops, he will go up. But he hasn´t returned until now."

More than 155,000 people remain in evacuation centres in the Philippines two days after Mangkhut -- the world´s most powerful storm this year -- struck, said national police spokesman Benigno Durana. Across northern Luzon, which produces much of the nation´s rice and corn, farms were under muddy floodwater, their crops ruined just a month before harvest.

Hong Kong began a massive clean-up Monday after the typhoon raked the city, shredding trees and bringing damaging floods in a trail of destruction. The government of the high-rise city described the damage as "severe and extensive" with more than 300 people injured.

The monumental task of cleaning up began as residents, some in suits and ties, struggled to get back to work on roads that remained blocked by felled trees, mud and debris. Bus services were halted and commuters piled onto platforms trying to board infrequent trains after trees fell on overhead power lines. Schools will remain closed through Tuesday. Landslides and severe flooding affected some areas, with over 1,500 residents seeking refuge in temporary shelters overnight.