More than 100 killed, scores missing in Mexico landslides, flooding: official
By Leticia Pineda and Allan Garcia, AFPACAPULCO, Mexico--More than 100 people have been killed and scores are missing in landslides and flooding caused by heavy rain in Mexico, a senior government official said late Friday.
September 22, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong delivered the grim news from the resort town of Acapulco, in one of the worst-affected regions, with President Enrique Pena Nieto by his side.
The death toll stood at 101, with 68 people missing following a massive mudslide that swallowed half of the village of La Pintada, in Guerrero state, Osorio Chong said.
Mexico was hammered by the one-two punch of tropical storms Ingrid and Manuel, which left a trail of destruction that damaged tens of thousands of homes, flooded cities and washed out roads.
After regenerating into a hurricane and hitting the northwestern state of Sinaloa late Thursday, affecting 100,000 people and killing three, Manuel finally dissipated over the mountains.
The state of Guerrero was the hardest hit, with at least 65 deaths and its Pacific resort of Acapulco left isolated after the two roads to Mexico City were covered in landslides on Sunday.
Osorio Chong also said that authorities are searching for a police helicopter that had been evacuating people from La Pintada when it disappeared Thursday. Only crew members were apparently missing.
Rescuers have abandoned the search by air because of heavy fog, but have continued to search by land, Osorio Chong said.
“We are really worried,” the minister earlier told Radio Formula. “They risked their lives all the time, because it was important to evacuate people.”
'Thank God we're leaving'
Thousands of tourists trapped in flood-stricken Acapulco for almost a week packed into cars and buses on Friday after authorities reopened the road link to Mexico City following the storms.
Traffic piled up as police allowed cars to leave in groups of 50 to avoid huge backups on the “Sun Highway.”
The highway department warned travelers that the trip north, which usually takes around four hours, would last nine to 10 hours, with only a single lane open in some stretches and a diversion to another road.
“Thank God we're leaving, even if there is traffic,” said Imelda Cuellar Ramirez, a Mexican holidaymaker who was driving out with eight relatives.
More than 40,000 tourists, mostly Mexicans seeking sun during a three-day holiday weekend, were left stranded when the storms struck five days ago.