Deadly Typhoon Weakens After Hitting Philippines, China

A woman runs in the rainstorm as Typhoon Mangkhut approaches in Shenzhen China on Sunday Sept. 16 2018

The super typhoon wreaked havoc in Hong Kong and Macau over the weekend and left a trail of devastation in the Philippines, where the death toll had exceeded 50.

"The suspension is for the safety of casino employees, visitors to the city, and residents", said authorities, which faced criticism previous year after a typhoon that killed nine and caused severe damage.

In Macau, badly hit by a super typhoon previous year, authorities were much more prepared this time, ordering casinos to close late on Saturday night as the storm approached.

Rescuers resumed their search efforts on Monday morning, using pikes and shovels to dig into the mud, with the use of heavy equipment limited on the soaked ground.

"I am 99 percent sure the people there are dead", said Victorio Palangdan, the municipal mayor.

While the death toll is now 54, with 32 people injured and 42 more missing, this is likely to rise in the coming days as rescue teams work to locate 36 people believed to be buried beneath landslides in the Cordillera Administrative Region, in the north of Luzon island.

"I was insisting because the storm was strong but he told me not to worry because they're safe there, " said Mrs 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.

Severe flooding has been reported in nine provinces.

Across northern Luzon, which produces much of the nation's rice and corn, farms were under muddy floodwater, their crops ruined just a month before harvest.

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But that figure could rise to at least $100 billion after the full extent of the damage is assessed, analysts warned.

Philippine officials said the Itogon landslide was near a gold mine operating illegally in the area.

"That was not an authorized evacuation center", Palangdan said, but expressed sadness that the villagers, many of them poor miners, had few options to survive in a region where big corporations have profited immensely from gold mines.

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.

A Philippine mayor said today 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.

Debris lies at the bottom of an escalator during a No. 10 Hurricane Signal raised for Typhoon Mangkhut in Hong Kong, China, on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018. The storm caused some delays in rail, airplane and boat transportation along parts of China's southern coast.

In Hong Kong on Monday, crews were clearing fallen trees and other wreckage left when the financial hub felt the full brunt of the storm on Sunday. There were no reported deaths in Hong Kong, a city well prepared for tropical cyclones.

The typhoon has weakened to a tropical storm.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

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