The death toll from landslides and floods battering Mexico rose to 80 Wednesday as the country braced for new storms and desperate tourists sought airlifts out of an inundated Acapulco.
The fatalities spread across 12 of the country’s 32 states after a pair of tropical storms, Ingrid and Manuel, lashed large swaths of the country this week, said national civil protection director Ricardo de la Cruz told a news conference.
The toll could rise after the mayor of a mountain municipality in the southwestern state of Guerrero said at least 18 bodies were pulled from a landslip that hit more than 20 homes housing 70 people.
Ediberto Tabarez, the mayor of Atoyac de Alvarez, said the situation was “very critical” in the remote village of Pintada after nonstop rain caused part of a hill to slip.
Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said authorities have been unable to confirm the fatalities so far but that pictures from the area were “not encouraging.”
Forecasters, meanwhile, warned that a new cyclone may form on the east coast, while Tropical Storm Manuel regenerated south of Baja California and threatened to become a hurricane, three days after slamming the Pacific coast.
The new threat comes after Ingrid, which hit the northeast on Monday, and Manuel became the first tropical storms to make landfall almost simultaneously in half a century.
The storms have affected some 220,000 people across the country, damaging scores of bridges and homes, and left Acapulco isolated after its two highways and airport were hit by landslides and floods.
Authorities said they hoped to open part of the road linking the Pacific resort to Mexico City by Friday.
The rising waters marooned tens of thousands of tourists in Acapulco, a former favourite haunt of Hollywood stars that has now been plagued by gang violence.
The disaster sparked panic buying at supermarkets while thousands of residents looted flooded stores, wading through water with televisions, food and even fridges.
“Unfortunately, there is desperation, but more army and navy troops have arrived,” Mayor Luis Walton told MVS radio. “We ask people to remain calm.”
The skies finally cleared in Acapulco after almost one week of nonstop rain, but the heat brought misery to thousands of holidaymakers standing in massive lines to board military aircraft.
People shouted and shoved each other as some cut the line at an air force base while soldiers handed out water to parched tourists.
Their anger rose as a separate, shorter and quicker line formed for wealthier visitors who booked flights on private jets.