There appears to be no respite from the tropical cyclones affecting Mexico. Official numbers already speak of 80 confirmed dead and 58 unaccounted for. “We were not expecting a storm of this magnitude”, said Luis Walton, Mayor of Acapulco, during a press conference in the town that was most affected by the heavy rains recorded over the past weekend.
Tropical storms “Manuel” and “Ingrid” started cutting their devastating path on Friday: the first storm came from the Pacific and the second from the Atlantic, in a convergence of serious weather systems such as had not been seen for at least 50 years.
Cyclone “Ingrid” dissipated on Tuesday, but in the Atlantic Ocean an area of low pressure is forming which could become a new cyclone over the next few hours, with winds of up to 40 km/hour and gusts of up to 55 km/hour.
However, “Manuel“, which formed on Friday evening as a tropical storm, despite having lost a lot of its strength, picked up again yesterday, Wednesday, turning into a hurricane off the coasts of the State of Sinaloa in the Sea of Cortés.
The latest temporary figures for the number of victims, broadcast during a press conference of ministers and high-level officials in Acapulco, talk of 80 confirmed dead, 48 of whom were recorded in the southern state of Guerrero, one of the poorest states in the whole of Mexico. Unfortunately the number could rise if the dozens of presumed dead in the village of La Pintada, in the state of Guerrero, are confirmed: 58 are unaccounted for because of a landslide which swept away and buried several houses.
“58 people are reported missing. We do not know if these people were in the houses destroyed by the mud slide when the tragedy struck”, said the President Enrique Peña Nieto during a press conference held in the north-eastern town of Tampico.
By last night, 334 people who lived in La Pintada had been rescued by helicopter, but 45 are still there. Most are men and will be evacuated tomorrow by air, the only way of reaching the community, which is still cut off from the rest of the world. The land slide started with the collapse of a part of a hill and buried a still unknown number of houses. Rescue attempts have been made particularly difficult because of the instability of the area and by the torrents of water still raging through.
Of the 80 confirmed dead, 18 are from Acapulco alone, one of the main tourist resorts of the country and a favourite destination of the inhabitants of the capital of Mexico.
Yesterday, flight companies scheduled about 30 flights to transport the thousands of people who had been trapped in Acapulco. The highway that links Acapulco to the capital of Mexico had to be closed due to flood damage. Teams of armed soldiers, police officers and members of the Civil Protection department helped victims and the homeless, who already number over 200,000 according to official data, even though the figure is provisional and destined to rise. About a hundred roads have been damaged, along with many minor roads, and dozens of rivers and streams have broken their banks. Rescuers have not yet managed to reach many villages. In Acapulco vital foodstuffs are being brought in by ship and air due to the state of the roads.