A miner waits for news as the search continues for victims believed to be buried in a landslide caused by Typhoon Mangkhut in Itogon, Benguet province, northern Philippines. Picture: Aaron Favila/AP
A miner waits for news as the search continues for victims believed to be buried in a landslide caused by Typhoon Mangkhut in Itogon, Benguet province, northern Philippines. Picture: Aaron Favila/AP
Rescuers continue to search for victims buried by a landslide after Typhoon Mangkhut lashed Itogon, Benguet province, northern Philippines. Picture: Aaron Favila/AP
Rescuers continue to search for victims buried by a landslide after Typhoon Mangkhut lashed Itogon, Benguet province, northern Philippines. Picture: Aaron Favila/AP
Rescuers carry a body recovered from a landslide caused by Typhoon Mangkhut in Itogon, Benguet province, northern Philippines. Picture: Aaron Favila/AP
Rescuers carry a body recovered from a landslide caused by Typhoon Mangkhut in Itogon, Benguet province, northern Philippines. Picture: Aaron Favila/AP
A Filipino miner waits for news as recovery operations continue at the site where victims are believed to have been buried by a landslide in Itogon, northern Philippines. Picture: Aaron Favila/AP
A Filipino miner waits for news as recovery operations continue at the site where victims are believed to have been buried by a landslide in Itogon, northern Philippines. Picture: Aaron Favila/AP
Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan said that at the height of the typhoon's onslaught dozens of people, mostly miners and their families, rushed into an old three-story building in the village of Ucab. The building was obliterated when part of a mountain slope collapsed. Picture: Aaron Favila/AP
Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan said that at the height of the typhoon's onslaught dozens of people, mostly miners and their families, rushed into an old three-story building in the village of Ucab. The building was obliterated when part of a mountain slope collapsed. Picture: Aaron Favila/AP
Rescuers retrieve a body they recovered at the site where victims are believed to have been buried by a landslide after Typhoon Mangkhut lashed Itogon. Picture: Aaron Favila/AP
Rescuers retrieve a body they recovered at the site where victims are believed to have been buried by a landslide after Typhoon Mangkhut lashed Itogon. Picture: Aaron Favila/AP
People clean up debris caused by Typhoon Mangkhut outside a housing estate on the waterfront in Hong Kong. The biggest storm of the year left at least 28 dead from landslides and drownings as it sliced through the northern Philippines. Picture: Vincent Yu/AP
People clean up debris caused by Typhoon Mangkhut outside a housing estate on the waterfront in Hong Kong. The biggest storm of the year left at least 28 dead from landslides and drownings as it sliced through the northern Philippines. Picture: Vincent Yu/AP
People walk past fallen trees caused by Typhoon Mangkhut outside a housing estate on the waterfront in Hong Kong. Picture: Vincent Yu/AP
People walk past fallen trees caused by Typhoon Mangkhut outside a housing estate on the waterfront in Hong Kong. Picture: Vincent Yu/AP
Debris caused by Typhoon Mangkhut is seen outside a housing estate on the waterfront in Hong Kong.  Hong Kong and southern China hunkered down as strong winds and heavy rain from Typhoon Mangkhut lash the densely populated coast. Picture: Vincent Yu/AP
Debris caused by Typhoon Mangkhut is seen outside a housing estate on the waterfront in Hong Kong. Hong Kong and southern China hunkered down as strong winds and heavy rain from Typhoon Mangkhut lash the densely populated coast. Picture: Vincent Yu/AP
People walk past debris caused by Typhoon Mangkhut outside a housing estate on the waterfront in Hong Kong. Picture: Vincent Yu/AP
People walk past debris caused by Typhoon Mangkhut outside a housing estate on the waterfront in Hong Kong. Picture: Vincent Yu/AP
Rescuers continue searching for victims believed to be buried by a landslide after Typhoon Mangkhut lashed Itogon, Benguet province, northern Philippines. Picture: Aaron Favila/AP
Rescuers continue searching for victims believed to be buried by a landslide after Typhoon Mangkhut lashed Itogon, Benguet province, northern Philippines. Picture: Aaron Favila/AP
Rescuers continue searching for victims believed to be buried by a landslide in Itogon, northern Philippines. Picture: Aaron Favila/AP
Rescuers continue searching for victims believed to be buried by a landslide in Itogon, northern Philippines. Picture: Aaron Favila/AP

Itogon, Philippines - A Philippine mayor said Monday 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.

Mayor Victorio Palangdan of Itogon town in Benguet province, among the worst-hit by the typhoon that struck Saturday, said at a news conference that of the 40 to 50 people thought buried, there's a "99 percent (chance) that they really are all dead."

Mangkhut has killed 65 people since it tore through the Philippines. The storm killed another four 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 slide, which is covering 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, including police and soldiers, scrambled to search for the missing as grief-stricken relatives waited nearby, many of them quietly praying.

"We will not stop until we recover all the bodies," Palangdan said.

Most of those buried in the slide are thought to be poor miners and their families. In order to prevent such tragedies going forward, Environmental Secretary Roy Cimatu said the government would deploy soldiers and police to stop illegal mining in six mountainous northern provinces, including Benguet.

Philippine officials have said in the past that gold mines tunnelled by big mining companies legally or by unauthorized individuals and small outfits have made the hillsides unstable and more prone to landslides. Tens of thousands of small-time miners in recent years have come to the mountain provinces from the lowlands and established communities in high-risk areas like 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 200 kilometres (124 miles) west of the city of Nanning in Guangxi region, travelling in a northwesterly direction and weakening as it progressed. There were no additional reports of deaths or 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 had been restored and casinos in the gambling enclave of Macau had reopened for business.

In Hong Kong, crews were clearing fallen trees and other wreckage left 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 cyclone to hit the city since 1979, packing winds of 195 kilometres per hour (121 mph).

The typhoon struck Asian population centres as tropical weather also was devastating the southern U.S. Florence has dumped historical levels of rain on North Carolina.

AP