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Mexico storms: Thousands of tourists still trapped in Acapulco

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 14:45

Zee Media Bureau

Acapulco: The Army rescued around 2,000 tourists and airlifted them from the Acapulco resort to safety after the area was swamped with flood water by Tropical Storm Manuel. However, around 40,000 more tourists continue to be trapped in the city.

The rescue operation in the other areas of the city is on as the Army rescues . However, several tourists and locals continue to be trapped in the flooded city.

For the first time since 1958, two storms – Hurricane Ingrid followed by Tropical storm Manuel – have struck Mexico causing massive floods.

Road movement was affected after landslides, rockslides, floods and collapsed bridges cut off accessibility.

Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong told the Radio Formula that 27 people had died because of the storm in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero, where Acapulco is located. Osorio Chong said 20 more people died nationwide, many as a result of former hurricane Ingrid, which struck the Gulf coast on Monday. Mexican meteorologists said it was the first time since 1958 that two tropical storms or hurricanes had hit both the country`s coasts within 24 hours.

While most Acapulco hotels seemed to be operating normally on Tuesday, many outlying neighborhoods were without water or electricity, and floodwaters were knee-deep at the city airport`s check-in counters.

Federal officials said it could take at least another two days to open the main highway to Acapulco, which was hit by more than 13 landslides from surrounding hills, and to bring food and relief supplies into the city of more than 800,000 people.

Two of Mexico`s largest airlines, Aeromexico and Interjet, began running flights to and from the still-swamped international airport. Those with tickets got first priority, then families with small children or elderly members, officials said.

Interjet`s director Luis Jose Garza told Milenio TV that his airline`s first flight was taking 150 passengers back to Mexico City and it hoped to run four to six such flights Tuesday.

Guerrero state`s government said 40,000 tourists were stuck in the city, but the head of the local chamber of business owners said reports from hotels indicated the number could be as high as 60,000.

Thousands of stranded tourists lined up outside an air force base north of Acapulco to try to get a seat on one of a handful of planes flying to Mexico City. Many said they`ve been waiting at the base for hours after they were unable to return to Mexico City by road.

The main coastal boulevard was open Tuesday and most hotels appeared to have power, water and food. But that was little consolation to those unable to leave Acapulco.

The situation was far more serious in the city`s low-income periphery, where steep hills funneled rainwater into neighborhoods of cinderblock houses.

City officials said about 23,000 homes, mostly on Acapulco`s outskirts, were without electricity and water. Stores were nearly emptied by residents who rushed to stock up on basic goods. Landslides and flooding damaged an unknown number of homes.

The coastal town of Coyuca de Benitez and beach resorts further west of Acapulco, including Ixtapa and Zihuatenejo, were cut off after a river washed out a bridge on the main coastal highway.

One of the biggest single death tolls was reported in the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz, where 12 people died when a landslide smashed into a bus traveling through the town of Altotonga, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) northwest of the state capital.

More than 23,000 people fled their homes in Veracruz state due to heavy rains spawned by Ingrid, and 9,000 went to emergency shelters. At least 20 highways and 12 bridges were damaged, the state`s civil protection authority said.

(With Agency Inputs)

First Published: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 12:37

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