The death toll from the torrential rains in Mexico caused by a two-punch hurricane and tropical storm rose to 57 people by late Tuesday, authorities said.
At least 30 of the victims were in Guerrero state, where more than 40,000 tourists have also been left stranded in the Pacific resort of Acapulco after authorities closed the airport. The main roads were also blocked by debris caused by mudslides.
Communications in Guerrero, including telephone and internet services, were also cut off. Many people tried to abandon their homes through flash floods and landslides.
President Enrique Peña Nieto toured the disaster areas on Tuesday and promised immediate aid to communities on both of Mexico’s coastlines that have been hit hard by Hurricane Ingrid. The hurricane made landfall Monday in the Gulf state of Veracruz, after Tropical Storm Manuel dumped torrential rainfall on Guerrero and other states along the Pacific a day earlier.
Flanked by several members of his Cabinet, Peña Nieto was applauded and cheered when he arrived at a public arena that is being used as a temporary refuge for 1,200 people in Chipancingo, the capital of Guerrero.
I came to Chipancingo to seek treatment for my throat and I got caught in this”
The president announced that his government would provide funds to rebuild their homes and improve infrastructure so that disasters like this one “won’t happen again.”
While some personal experiences have been dramatic, there is much resignation among the displaced residents. Marta Emma has been sleeping in the arena for three days with her four children. She doesn’t have a husband and has accepted the fact that she doesn’t know where to go next. “The house was flooded,” said the 43-year-old.
The entire arena is filled with cots, blankets and bags filled with personal belongings that the victims were able to retrieve before the floods hit.
“I came to Chipancingo to seek treatment for my throat and I got caught in this,” said an 82-year-old woman who is worried about what will happen to her neighbors.
A group of native Indians from the city of Tlacoapa approached the president to express their concern for their families, who have been stranded in the mountains without food since Saturday. Social Development Secretary Rosario Robles said that helicopters could not reach the area because of the weather conditions, but assured them they would try again on Wednesday.
Afterward, Peña Nieto traveled to Acapulco where he met with local authorities. The resort’s world famous harbor sustained serious damage while the main highway to Mexico City — Autopista del Sol — remained blocked by multiple mountain mudslides.
While Guerrero was the hardest-hit state, authorities fear that the remnants of Manuel — the heavy rains that continue to push northward — will impact more coastal areas in the coming days, especially in Sinaloa and Baja California.