Thu, 27 Jun 2019

The mayor of a small Philippine town says he is '99 percent sure' that dozens of people missing in a landslide triggered by the onslaught of Typhoon Mangkhut have been killed.

Eleven bodies have been recovered from the rubble in the town of Itogon on the northern tip of the main island of Luzon, which was struck hard when Mangkhut made landfall last Saturday with winds of 270 kilometers per hour. The discovery of the 11 bodies raises the death toll in the Philippines from 54 to 65.

Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan said the victims were miners and their families who had taken shelter inside a former miner's bunkhouse that was converted into a chapel. At least 40 people are believed to among the missing and presumed dead.

Emergency officials are unable to bring heavy equipment into Itogon as the landslides left the roads into the town impassible, forcing rescuers to dig through the rubble with only shovels and their bare hands.

Itogon is located in the Cordillera region, where officials have warned that mining by either legal or illegal mining outfits have made the hillsides unstable and more prone to landslides. Environmental Secretary Roy Cimatu on Monday ordered the stoppage of all mining operations in Cordillera.

Farms across Luzon, the Philippines largest island, are under floodwaters. Luzon farms produce most of the country's rice and corn. Now, however, their crops have been ruined just a month before harvest.

Children use a tyre's interior to cross a flooded street in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Mangkhut at Salonga Compound in Calumpit, Bulacan on September 16, 2018.

Mangkhut has been downgraded from a typhoon to a tropical storm after reaching the southern Chinese province of Guangdong Sunday, where four people have been killed. More than 2.4 million people had been evacuated from Guangdong ahead of Mangkhut's arrival.

Authorities in Hong Kong have begun totaling up the damage left behind by Mangkhut, which struck the territory with winds of more than 230 kilometers an hour, prompting officials to declare a Number 10 storm warning, its highest alert.

The storm blew out windows in skyscrapers, pulled trees up by their roots and scattered them across streets, and affected all modes of transportation.

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