Rescuers carry a body recovered from a landslide caused by Typhoon Mangkhut in Itogon, Philippines.(Aaron Favila / Associated Press)
Rescuers work on the site where victims were believed to have been buried by a landslide after Typhoon Mangkhut barreled across Itogon, Philippines.(Aaron Favila / Associated Press)
A landslide caused by heavy rains from the typhoon leaves rescuers digging with bare hands Monday, searching for dozens of miners feared buried in Itogon, Philippines.(Ted Aljibe / AFP/Getty Images)
A man in a Hong Kong high-rise looks at windows blown out during the typhoon.(Lam Yik Fei / Getty Images)
Downed scaffolding covers a street on Monday after the storm swept by Hong Kong.(Lam Yik Fei / Getty Images)
People clean debris from Typhoon Mangkhut on the waterfront in Hong Kong.(Vincent Yu / Associated Press)
A man takes a video of himself on an empty Nathan Road during Typhoon Mangkhut in Hong Kong on Sunday.(Jerome Favre / EPA/Shutterstock)
An aerial photo shows Typhoon Mangkhut’s damage in some areas of Northern Luzon, Philippines, on Sunday.( Karl Norman Alonzo)
A police officer rescues a child from flooding Sunday in Lei Yue Mun, Hong Kong.(Jerome Favre / European Pressphoto Agency/Shutterstock)
Rescuers help a mother and her child evacuate Sunday after landslides in the northern Philippine town of Itogon.(JJ Landingin / Associated Press)
Children use basins to cross a flooded street Sunday after Typhoon Mangkhut in Calumpit, Philippines.(Noel Celis / AFP/Getty Images)
Rescuers retrieve the body of a mudslide victim Sunday in Baguio, Philippines.(JJ Landingin / AFP/Getty Images)
Rescuers remove a body Sunday in Baguio, Philippines.(JJ Landingin / AFP/Getty Images)
Children cross a flooded alley by raft in Calumpit, Philippines.(Noel Celis / AFP/Getty Images)
A man takes photos Sunday as Typhoon Mangkhut approaches Hong Kong.(Philip Fong / AFP/Getty Images)
Evacuees rest in a shelter as Typhoon Mangkhut hits Hong Kong on Sunday.(Anthony Wallace / AFP/Getty Images)
Collapsed bamboo scaffolding hangs from a building during Typhoon Mangkhut in Hong Kong on Sunday.(Anthony Wallace / AFP/Getty Images)
Windows are damaged by the typhoon Sunday in Hong Kong.(Lam Yik Fei / Getty Images)
A Philippine mayor said Monday that it’s unlikely any of the dozens of people feared buried in a huge landslide set off by Typhoon Mangkhut will be found alive, though rescuers are still digging through the massive mound of mud and debris covering a chapel where they had taken shelter.
Mayor Victorio Palangdan of Itogon town in Benguet province, among the worst hit by the typhoon that struck Saturday, said there is a 99% chance that the 40 to 50 poor miners and their families thought buried are dead.
Mangkhut is confirmed to have killed 66 people in the Philippines. The storm killed four other people in China, where Mangkhut weakened to a tropical storm as it churned inland Monday.
Palangdan said rescuers have dug out 11 bodies from the landslide, which covered 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?”
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. Those identified were carried away by relatives, some using crude bamboo slings.
Jonalyn Felipe said she told her husband, Dennis, a small-scale gold miner in Itogon, by cellphone to return to their home in northern Quirino province on Friday as the powerful typhoon blew threateningly close toward the country.
“I was insisting because the storm was strong but he told me not to worry because they’re safe there,” said Felipe, who wept while awaiting word on her husband, who she said was last seen chatting with fellow miners in the chapel before it was hit by the collapsing mountainside.
When she screamed after hearing the news about her husband, their 4-year-old son sensed what had happened and cried too, she said.
Palangdan told reporters that authorities “will not stop until we recover all the bodies.”
In order to prevent such tragedies in the future, Environmental Secretary Roy Cimatu said the government will deploy soldiers and police to stop illegal mining in six mountainous northern provinces, including Benguet.
Philippine officials say that gold mines tunneled by big mining companies and by unauthorized small-scale miners have made the hillsides unstable and more prone to landslides. Tens of thousands of small-time miners have come in recent years to the mountain provinces from the lowlands and established communities in high-risk areas such as the mountain foothills of Itogon.
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 125 miles west of the city of Nanning in Guangxi region, traveling in a northwesterly direction and weakening as it progressed. There were no new reports of deaths or serious damage.
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 were restored and casinos in the gambling enclave of Macau reopened for business.
In Hong Kong, crews were clearing fallen trees and other wreckage left from 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 storm to hit the city since 1979, packing winds of 121 mph.
The typhoon struck Asian population centers as tropical weather also was devastating the southern U.S. Florence, first a hurricane and now a tropical depression, dumped historical levels of rain on North Carolina.
8 p.m.: This article was updated with the latest death toll.
This article was originally published at 8:50 a.m.