Itogon (Cordillera Administrative Region): Hundreds of Philippine rescuers used shovels and their bare hands to sift through a massive landslide where dozens are feared dead in the region worst-hit by deadly Typhoon Mangkhut, as the storm’s toll hit 74.
The storm, 2018’s most powerful, smashed homes and flooded key agricultural regions in the northern Philippines before battering Hong Kong and southern China with fierce winds and heavy rain.
Hong Kong was still struggling to get back on its feet with a massive clean-up operation to clear broken trees, repair torn-up roads and fix damaged power lines.
The violent typhoon killed four in China’s southern province of Guangdong and the toll climbed on Tuesday to 74 on the Philippines’ northern Luzon island according to police, with that number expected to rise.
Up to 40 people are still feared buried in the landslide in Itogon, unleashed Saturday as the typhoon stalled over the area and dumped a month’s worth of rain in a matter of hours.
“While I said there is a 99-percent chance that all of them are dead, there is still that one-percent chance,” local Mayor Victorio Palangdan told AFP.
“The rescue effort will continue until the president orders us to stop,” he said.
Because the slide destroyed roads, authorities have been unable to bring heavy equipment into the area to accelerate the search. As a result the teams were using human chains to extract debris.
The area was primed for disaster before Mangkhut hit, as it came on the heels of nearly a month of continuous monsoon rains that left the already hazardous area soggy and dangerously loose.
Almost all the storm’s victims were killed in dozens of landslides unleashed along the Cordillera mountain range, a key gold mining area.