Typhoon Mangkhut Claims More Lives as It Crawls Across South China

Arturo Kim
September 20, 2018

Hundreds of rescuers, including police and soldiers, scrambled to search for the missing as grief-stricken relatives waited nearby, many of them quietly praying.

Since then the toll has climbed mostly due to the corpses recovered from the massive landslide in the mining town of Itogon where dozens are still believed buried under the mud.

In China, meanwhile, Mangkhut continued its destructive path, with Hong Kong bracing for a storm that could be the strongest to hit the city since Typhoon York in 1999.

The typhoon is already the city's most powerful storm on record and looks set to become its most destructive, after Typhoon Hato left a record $110 million claims bill following its impact previous year.

That warning came after Mangkhut's devastating march through the northern Philippines, where the storm made landfall Saturday on Luzon island with sustained winds of 127 miles per hour and gusts of 158 mph.

The violent storm killed four in Shenzen, which is situated in China's southern province of Guangdong.

In Itogon, floods and landslides caused by Mangkhut also buried an area with gold mining sites and several makeshift shelters where some miners and their families lived illegally. The Philippines raised the highest alert level in its northern provinces which has more than 3.7 million people.

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Hong Kong Security Minister John Lee Ka-chiu urged residents to prepare for the worst. Part of the mountain slope, covered in green foliage, can be seen behind the buildings.

As of 6 p.m., the CRDRRMC said 11 people died in Baguio City; one in Kalinga; six in Mountain Province; one in Tuba, Benguet; three in La Trinidad, Benguet; and 46 in Itogon, Benguet. Three villagers who managed to escape told authorities what happened. Some even laughed at police officers and told them their shelter was safe, he said.

The mighty winds broke glasses of commercial buildings, brought down materials from under-construction buildings, uprooted trees and blocked roads.

It was one of the worst calamities to hit the disaster-prone Philippines this year and refocused attention on a persistent dilemma: What to do about the large number of poor who live and work on or near steep mountains, volcanoes, quake faults and storm-vulnerable coastlines out of desperation?

Hong Kong was also buffeted by fierce winds that tore off roofs, downed trees and caused cranes perched atop half-built skyscrapers to swing ominously. In the neighboring gambling enclave of Macau, all 42 casinos shut down for the first time in its history as the storm approached.

The Philippines has a poor record of regulating mining, with tunnel collapses and landslides regularly killing people in other gold-rush areas in recent years.

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