Hopes of finding survivors deep beneath mud and rubble left by a huge landslide in the Philippines are fading as rescuers continue their grim search for dozens of people feared trapped after a powerful typhoon struck.
Some 300 police, soldiers, firefighters, and volunteers, armed mostly with hand tools, are working frantically to remove rocks, mud, debris and drain water from collapsed buildings, hoping to find some signs of life after 12 bodies were pulled out.
The village of Ucab in remote Cordillera region was hit by one of 50 landslides triggered by heavy rains brought by Typhoon Mangkhut, which tore across the northern tip of the Philippines early on Saturday, killing at least 54 people.
Only three people have been rescued in Ucab. Fifty-five were missing, six of them children.
Many of the adults were in an abandoned bunkhouse, next to a chapel and home of a pastor and his family. The buildings were all crushed by earth and rocks.
“I am 99 per cent sure the people there are dead,”municipal mayor Victorio Palangdan said.
“We will continue until we get them all.”
Rescuers used bare hands to remove roofing, slabs of concrete and planks of wood, standing side-by-side, passing debris along a line to a pile 30 metres away.
National Police Chief Oscar Albayalde in a Twitter message said elite police officers were being sent to Ucab with radar life detectors, harnesses, digging tools and other search and rescue equipment.
Friends and relatives joined lines of rescuers to remove debris, one rock at a time, as a handful of sniffer dogs searched for survivors.
The abandoned bunkhouse, owned by gold miner Benguet Corp , was near the site of a mine which was operating illegally, according to the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines.
The chamber, of which Benguet Corp is a member, said mining operators in Ucab had been repeatedly told to leave the area because of the threat of landslides.
Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu on Monday ordered the stoppage of all small-scale mining in the Cordillera region, where landslides had killed 24 people.
The typhoon affected about five million Filipinos altogether, 150,000 of whom were in evacuation centres when the storm hit, packing winds of over 205km/h, and gusts of as much as 305km/h.
Mangkhut, one of the most powerful storms to hit the region in decades, destroyed rice and corn crops worth an estimated $US177 million ($247 million) and damaged 450 homes, with flooding in nine provinces, official estimates showed.
Four people were killed in the province of Guangdong when the typhoon made landfall on the Chinese coast on Sunday afternoon after causing havoc in Hong Kong and Macau.
#typhoon #manghkut on #HK already 12 hours & still no sign to leave.#MyHome #update:
2 windows flood water in.
TV lost signal – 1st time ever!
Ceiling lights keep flashing on/off~😱
We've #typhoons every year but never had this before!😰
Video from web#台风山竹 #TyphoonMangkhut pic.twitter.com/E0kgV8SsRW
— Helen L.H. Wong (@helenwonglh) September 16, 2018
Manghut has since weakening as it makes its way across southern China and has been downgraded to a tropical storm.
An estimated three million people have been evacuated in Guangdong and on Hainan island.