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Scores Feared Dead in Philippines After Massive Landslide Triggered by Typhoon Mangkhut

Recovery efforts are only beginning in the Philippines and Hong Kong as Southern China continues to battle rain and strong winds

Rescue workers are searching for dozens of people feared dead

Rescue workers are searching for dozens of people feared dead after Super Typhoon Mangkhut triggered a landslide in the Philippines. (Photo: Andy Zapata Jr./The Philippine Star/Twitter)

Super Typhoon Mangkhut, which struck the Philippines early Saturday as "the planet's strongest storm in 2018" before heading for China, has killed at least 69 people, and the death toll expected to rise in the worst hit portions of the Philippines as rescue workers search for dozens feared dead.

A landslide in Itogon, a town in the Phillipines' Benguet province, covered a former miners' bunkhouse converted into a chapel, where an estimated 40 to 50 people sought shelter despite warnings from police that it was unsafe, according to The Associated Press.

Mayor Victorio Palangdan said 11 bodies have been recovered, and there is a "99 percent" chance those who remain missing—mostly poor miners and their families—were killed.

"Hundreds of rescuers armed with shovels and picks, including police and soldiers, searched for the missing in the muddy avalanche along a mountainside as grief-stricken relatives waited nearby, many of them quietly praying. Bodies in black bags were laid side by side," the AP reported. "Those identified were carried away by relatives, some using crude bamboo slings."

After striking the Philippines, the storm moved to Hong Kong, where it caused "extenstive" damage—but so far, no reported deaths. "Wind gusts as strong as 120 miles an hour swept through the city," the New York Times reported, "rocking tall buildings and fueling storm swells that threatened the coastline with waves as high as 40 feet."

Hong Kong's Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu called the damage "serious and extensive," according to the South China Morning Post. "The Hong Kong Observatory said the intensity of the storm, which required a typhoon signal No 10 to stay in place for 10 hours, was the most powerful since records began in 1946."

On Sunday evening, Mangkhut made landfall in Guangdong, China's most populous province, where it killed at least four people. CNN reported that more than three million were evacuated for safety reasons. Rain and powerful winds are forecast to continue through Tuesday along China's coast and the provinces of Guangdong, Guangxi, and Hainan.

Mangkhut struck Southeast Asia just as Hurricane Florence battered the Southeastern United States this weekend. As recovery efforts are only beginning in both regions, experts and environmental activists continue to issue reminders that the human-caused climate crisis is exacerbating extreme weather—including tropical cyclones—and warnings that it will only get worse.

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