Tue | Nov 13, 2018

Hope fades in Philippines for dozens buried under landslides

Published:Monday | September 17, 2018 | 9:12 AM
AP photo

ITOGON, Philippines (AP) — Dozens of people believed buried in a landslide unleashed by Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines probably did not survive, a mayor said Monday, although rescuers kept digging through mud and debris covering a chapel where they had taken shelter.

Of the 40 to 50 miners and their families believed inside the chapel, there is a “99 percent” chance that they all were killed, said Mayor Victorio Palangdan of Itogon, the Benguet province town that was among the hardest hit by the typhoon that struck Saturday.

Mangkhut already is confirmed to have killed 65 people in the Philippines and four in China, where it weakened to a tropical storm as it churned inland Monday.

Palangdan said rescuers have recovered 11 bodies from the muddy avalanche, which covered a former bunkhouse for the miners that had been turned into a chapel.

Dozens of people sought shelter there during the storm despite warnings it was dangerous.

“They laughed at our policemen,” he said. “They were resisting when our police tried to pull them away. What can we do?”

Police and soldiers were among the hundreds of rescuers with shovels and picks searching for the missing along a mountainside as grief-stricken relatives waited nearby, many of them praying quietly.

Bodies in black bags were laid side by side. Those identified were carried away by relatives, some using crude bamboo slings.

Environmental Secretary Roy Cimatu said the government will deploy soldiers and police to stop illegal mining in six mountainous northern provinces, including Benguet, to prevent such tragedies.

On Monday, Mangkhut was still affecting southern China’s coast and the provinces of Guangdong, Guangxi, and Hainan, and rain and strong winds were expected to continue through Tuesday.

The storm was about 124 miles west of the city of Nanning in Guangxi region on Monday afternoon, moving in a northwesterly direction and weakening as it progressed.

There were no new reports of deaths or serious damage.

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