Typhoon Mangkhut leaves death and destruction from Philippines to Hong Kong

Mangkhut has weakened from a typhoon to a tropical storm as it moves deeper into southern China, leaving death and destruction from the Philippines to Hong Kong.

Mangkhut weakens to tropical storm after plowing into China

A resident wades through floodwaters on Monday following flooding brought about by Typhoon Mangkhut which barrelled into northeastern Philippines during the weekend and inundated low-lying areas. (Bullit Marquez/Associated Press)

Here's the latest on Typhoon Mangkhut:

  • At least 69 dead in the Philippines and China.​
  • Dozens believed buried after Philippines landslide​.
  • Mangkhut weakening, moving over China's southern coast.

A Philippine mayor said Monday that it's unlikely any of the dozens of people thought buried in a huge landslide set off by Typhoon Mangkhut will be found alive, though rescuers were still digging through the massive mound of mud and debris covering a chapel where they had sheltered.

Mayor Victorio Palangdan of Itogon town in Benguet province, among the worst-hit by the typhoon that struck Saturday, said at a news conference that of the 40 to 50 people thought buried, there's a "99 per cent [chance] that they really are all dead."

Mangkhut has killed 65 people since it tore through the Philippines. The storm killed another four people in China, where Mangkhut weakened to a tropical storm as it churned inland Monday.

Rescuers search Monday for people trapped in a landslide after Mangkhut hit the country at a mining camp in Itogon, Benguet, Philippines. At least 65 people died in the Philippines, with dozens missing. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

Palangdan said rescuers have dug out 11 bodies from the slide, which is covering a former miners' bunkhouse that had been turned into a chapel. Dozens of residents sought shelter there during the storm despite warnings it was dangerous.

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

Palangdan said the effort would not stop until all of the bodies are recovered.

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.

Jonalyn Felipe said she had called her husband, Dennis, a small-scale gold miner in Itogon, and told him to return to their home in northern Quirino province as the powerful typhoon approached Friday.

"I was insisting because the storm was strong, but he told me not to worry,because he said they're safe there," said a weeping Felipe, adding that her husband was last seen chatting with fellow miners in the chapel before it was hit by the collapsing mountainside.

Most of those buried in the slide are thought to be poor miners and their families. In order to prevent such tragedies going forward, Environmental Secretary Roy Cimatu said the government would deploy soldiers and police to stop illegal mining in six mountainous northern provinces, including Benguet.

Philippine officials have said in the past that gold mines tunneled by big mining companies legally or by unauthorized individuals and small outfits have made the hillsides unstable and more prone to landslides. Tens of thousands of small-time miners in recent years have come to the mountain provinces from the lowlands and established communities in high-risk areas like the mountain foothills of Itogon.

Strongest cyclone since 1979

Mangkhut on Monday 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.

On Monday afternoon, Mangkhut was about 200 kilometres west of the city of Nanning in Guangxi region, travelling in a northwesterly direction and weakening as it progressed. There were no additional reports of deaths or damage.

Rescuers carry a body Monday from the site where victims are believed to have been buried by a landslide after in Itogon, Benguet province, northern Philippines. Dozens of people rushed into a three-storey building that was later destroyed by a landslide. (Aaron Favila/Associated Press)

Life was gradually returning to normal along the hard-hit southern China coast, where high-rises swayed, coastal hotels flooded and windows were blown out. Rail, airline and ferry services had been restored and casinos in the gambling enclave of Macau had reopened for business.

In Hong Kong, crews were clearing fallen trees and other wreckage left when the financial hub felt the full brunt of the storm on Sunday.

"This typhoon really was super strong … but overall, I feel we can say we got through it safely," Carrie Lam, the territory's chief executive, told reporters.

The Hong Kong Observatory said Mangkhut was the most powerful cyclone to hit the city since 1979, packing winds of 195 kilometres per hour.

The typhoon struck Asian population centres as tropical weather also was devastating the southern U.S. Florence has dumped historical levels of rain on North Carolina.