HONG KONG: Hong Kong began a massive clean-up Monday after Typhoon Mangkhut raked the city, shredding trees and bringing damaging floods in a trail of destruction that left dozens dead in the Philippines and millions evacuated in southern China.
The death toll in the Philippines, where the north of the main island of Luzon was mauled by fierce winds and rain, reached 65. It was expected to rise further as frantic rescuers pulled bodies from a massive landslide in the mountain town of Itogon.
The landslide buried an emergency shelter which was being used by miners and their families.
Eleven bodies have been pulled from the rubble and up to 40 more may still be trapped. Relatives of the buried were among those digging with shovels and their bare hands in an increasingly desperate attempt to find survivors.
“We believe that those people there, maybe 99 percent, are already dead,” the town’s mayor Victorio Palangdan told reporters.
More than 155,000 people remain in evacuation centres in the Philippines two days after the typhoon struck, said national police spokesman Benigno Durana.
Farms across northern Luzon, which produces much of the nation’s rice and corn, were under muddy floodwater, their crops ruined just a month before harvest.
After tearing through Luzon and pummelling Hong Kong and Macau, the storm made landfall in mainland China late Sunday. It killed four in Guangdong province, including three hit by falling trees.
Authorities there said they had evacuated more than three million people and ordered tens of thousands of fishing boats back to port before the arrival of what Chinese media dubbed the “King of Storms”.
In the high-rise city of Hong Kong, the government described the damage as “severe and extensive” with more than 300 people injured in Mangkhut, which triggered the maximum “T10” typhoon alert.
The monumental task of cleaning up the city began as residents, some in suits and ties, struggled to get back to work on roads that remained blocked by felled trees, mud and debris.
Bus services were halted and commuters piled onto platforms trying to board infrequent trains after trees fell on overhead power lines. Schools will remain closed through Tuesday.
Landslides and severe flooding affected some areas, with over 1,500 residents seeking refuge in temporary shelters overnight.
– Floods and debris –
The storm, with gusts of more than 230 kilometres per hour (142 mph), sent buildings swaying and waters surging into homes and shopping malls in Hong Kong, with some roads waist-deep in water.
Windows in tower blocks and skyscrapers were smashed as people cowered inside.
In the neighbourhood of Heng Fa Chuen, thousands of rocks and pebbles from the sea covered parkland along the coastline which had been battered by waves.
Low-lying fishing villages were also badly affected after seawater swept through.
Streets in the seaside village of Lei Yue Mun were covered in debris and glass as residents picked their way through.
The city’s main Victoria Park beaome an obstacle course with hundreds of trees down and many completely uprooted.
Emergency teams were sawing up some of the biggest trees blocking roads and pathways in a clean-up operation that is likely to take days.
In the neighbouring gambling enclave of Macau, all 42 casinos shut down for the first time in its history as the storm approached.
They opened again on Monday but Macau was still in recovery mode after severe flooding hit parts of the city, forcing emergency workers to rescue people from shops and homes using boats and jetskis.
On Monday morning, shopkeepers in Macau were hosing down their stores which had been caked in mud after the floodwaters receded.
People were attempting to dry out cupboards and electrical appliances on the streets.
The government and casinos took extra measures ahead of the storm, determined to avoid a repeat of Typhoon Hato which battered Macau last year, killing 12 people and drawing accusations the city was ill-prepared.
In the city of Zhuhai in Guangdong, a stone’s throw from Macau, volunteers and police pulled fallen trees and debris off highways.
“I think it will take us three or four days before it gets back to normal,” said Zhang, a police officer clearing a road near Nanshui town.
Rice paddies and banana plantations along the highway were flooded and destroyed, while some factories in nearby industrial areas suffered damage.
“I was scared. I didn’t dare go out last night. At one point the flooding was this high,” said Zhen Jingli, from Yashao village, pointing to his waist. —AFP