Philippine Miners Trapped in Typhoon: Drawn by Gold, Drowned in Mud – by Hannah Beech (New York Times – September 17, 2018)

ITOGON, Philippines — A month ago, Jes Feliciano struck gold. The ingot was the size of a coin, and it brought the 16-year-old miner more money than he ever imagined.

On Monday evening, Mr. Feliciano got a reminder that what the Cordillera Mountains give, they also take away. That is when he identified the body of his uncle, Mordecai Bahatan, one of dozens of miners feared killed when a torrent of earth, loosened by a typhoon’s rain, engulfed their encampment in the mountains.

The bounty of the Cordilleras, which form the northern spine of Luzon, the main island in the Philippines, is legendary: gold, hydropower and fertile farmland. But the mountains’ danger is equally fabled to the people who make the cloud-wreathed peaks home.

On Saturday, Typhoon Mangkhut churned the rich earth of the Cordilleras, and floods of mud inundated mining bunkhouses and mountain homes. In one case, some of those killed had tried to rescue neighbors trapped in the landslide, only to be buried themselves.

The typhoon may have taken its heaviest toll in Itogon, the town where the landslide took place. All told in the Philippines, more than 100 people are thought to have perished as a result of Mangkhut, the strongest storm the world has seen this year.

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