Rare twin storms batter Mexico, 34 dead
ACAPULCO, Mexico – Authorities scrambled to rescue people stranded in flooded homes in Mexico’s Pacific resort of Acapulco Monday after twin storms slammed opposite coasts in a rare one-two punch that has killed 34 people.
Hurricane Ingrid weakened to tropical-storm strength as it made landfall on the northeastern coast in the morning while the Pacific coast reeled from the remnants of Tropical Storm Manuel, which dissipated after striking on Sunday.
Thousands of people were evacuated as the two storms set off landslides and floods that damaged bridges, roads and homes.
The last time the country was hit by two tropical storms in the span of 24 hours was in 1958, officials said. Never before has it been struck by a hurricane and another storm at the same time.
“More than two-thirds of the national territory has been affected,” Interior Minister Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong told a news conference.
At least 12 people died when a landslide hit a bus and workers removing earth that had previously fallen on a road in the eastern state of Veracruz, a civil protection official said after federal officials reported 22 deaths elsewhere.
At least 15 people have died in the southwestern state of Guerrero where Acapulco is situated, said national civil protection chief Luis Felipe Puente.
Six more people died in the central states of Hidalgo and Puebla and one in the southern state of Oaxaca. Guerrero state officials reported six deaths in a road accident, but Puente did not include them in his account.
Around 50 towns were affected in Guerrero, with some 238,000 people seeing various levels of damage to their homes, Puente said, adding that dozens of shelters had opened for some 20,000 people.
The highway linking Acapulco to Mexico City was closed due to landslides while the resort’s airport was shut down, with some 100 people stranded on the terminal’s second floor. Authorities hoped to reopen both later Monday.
With waters rising as high as three feet (one meter) in some neighborhoods, soldiers used boats to pluck around 100 people who took refuge on upper floors or the roofs of homes.
The flooding brought out crocodiles, complicating the rescue work, officials said, while Manuel’s remnants were still producing rain. Those rescued were taken to an auditorium that was converted into a shelter.
At least 11 deaths were reported in Acapulco, including a family of six whose home was crushed by a landslide.
“There’s no power and we are surrounded by water,” said Carlos Álvarez, who lives near a neighborhood where around 50 two-level homes were flooded.
Residents used inflatable boats to evacuate around 40 people stuck on roofs, he said, complaining that neither helicopters nor troops guarding the area were not helping.
Authorities are working to create an air lift in the town of Pie de la Cuesta to transport people, state Governor Ángel Aguirre told Televisa television.
Some 2,500 tourists were stranded at the Fairmont Hotel, according to employees there.
The storms forced authorities to cancel independence day celebrations in several towns.
In the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, hundreds of people were evacuated as Ingrid made landfall near the town of La Pesca and its maximum sustained winds slowed to 60 miles (95 kilometers) per hour as it moved inland, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
The storm was bringing heavy rainfall to the region, the Miami-based center said.
“We have to be very alert in the northern states. It just started raining and the damage will be seen in the next few hours,” said National Water Commission head David Korenfeld.
Several communities were cut off by rising waters in Tamaulipas, while authorities rescued two power company workers whose truck was dragged away by a swollen river.
State-run energy firm Pemex, meanwhile, evacuated three oil platforms off the Gulf coast.
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