Two days after Typhoon Mangkhut slammed into the remote Philippine town of Itogon, causing part of a mountain slope to collapse on a gold miners’ bunkhouse, grim reports circulated that more than 40 people had been pulled from the wreckage. None of them were alive, authorities said Monday.
Rescue workers said previously that up to 50 people, including children, were believed trapped in the wreckage. At least 43 bodies have since been recovered, The New York Times reported, potentially doubling the country’s death toll from the storm.
Hundreds of emergency workers were at the site of the bunkhouse on Monday removing rocks and debris by hand ― hoping against hope that survivors could still be found.
But Itogon mayor Victorio Palangdan struck a somber tone at an afternoon news conference, saying he was “99-percent sure the people there are dead.”
Authorities said they believed many of those buried in the landslide were gold miners who’d been working illegally at a mine formerly operated by Benguet Corp., a Philippine mining firm.
“Before Ompong came, I asked them to leave,” Palangdan told the Times of the miners, using the local name for Typhoon Mangkhut.
The mayor said the prospectors claimed Benguet Corp. had granted them permission to work at the abandoned mine. The company, however, has refuted that claim.
It also killed at least four people in China and brought parts of Hong Kong and Macau to a standstill over the weekend.