Dozens die as storms hit Mexico

Some of the worst flooding in decades sees 40,000 tourists stranded in Acapulco

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 September, 2013, 12:46pm

Two powerful storms pummeled Mexico as they converged from the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico, killing at least 42 people and stranding some 40,000 tourists in Acapulco amid some of the worst flooding in decades.

Tropical Depression Ingrid battered Mexico's northern Gulf coast, shutting some of the country's oil operations, while the remnants of Tropical Storm Manuel lashed the Pacific coast, inundating the popular tourist hub.

Even as Ingrid and Manuel weakened on Monday, the storms continued to unleash massive rains in the states of Veracruz, Guerrero, Puebla, Hidalgo, Michoacan and Oaxaca.

Landslides buried homes and a bus in the eastern state of Veracruz, while thousands were evacuated from flooded areas, some by helicopter. Residents waded neck deep in brown muddy waters, while some sailed down flooded streets in dinghies, pedal boats and on jet skis.

State oil monopoly Pemex said it had evacuated three oil platforms and halted drilling at some wells on land.

Acapulco Mayor Luis Walton said on Monday that 40,000 tourists were stranded in the city. The Princess Hotel's car parks and golf course were under water, as was much of the city's plush Diamante district, home to top-end hotels.

"Tomorrow is another day, and we will just have to check whether or not the highway re-opens," said hotel worker Martila Flores.

In the resort city alone, at least 21 people were killed as buildings collapsed and roads were transformed into raging rivers, said Constantino Gonzalez, an official with Guerrero state emergency services.

"Unfortunately, the majority of the deaths have occurred here in Acapulco due to landslides that completely buried homes," said Gonzalez. The national meteorological service forecast rains would continue today.

President Enrique Pena Nieto inspected the storm damage in Acapulco and other flooded parts of Guerrero state by air on Monday evening. "We have a plan to arrange for government funds to help," he said.

Interior Minister Miguel Osorio Chong called the flooding historic and said Acapulco had sustained major damage.

The resort's international airport was closed due to power failure, and two major highways were blocked, in the wake of Manuel.

"The storms have affected two-thirds of the entire national territory," Chong said.