Westconnex ‘won’t create city gridlock’

The $11.


5 billion WestConnex motorway won’t create bottlenecks in Sydney, the NSW government has assured, as construction of the huge transport project was announced.

The nation’s biggest transport project got the green light on Thursday at a joint press conference between Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell and NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay.

They’ve promised that besides shaving 40 minutes off a typical trip from Parramatta in the west to Sydney Airport, the network of roads and tunnels will create 10,000 jobs and enable “urban revitalisation” along the Parramatta Road corridor.

The NSW premier batted away concerns that the project’s first stage – which involves building three-lane tunnels under Parramatta Road to connect the motorway to the two-lane City-West Link – would create bottlenecks.

He said most of the traffic that would use the motorway would have left the road by then.

“Sixty per cent of traffic that will use this road don’t want to go to the CBD,” Mr O’Farrell told reporters.

“Not everyone in Sydney works in the CBD, stop being Sydney-centric.

“We’re confident this project will deliver what people need.”

The NSW government is putting $1.8 billion toward the project, and the federal government will pitch in $1.5 billion over four years.

The bulk of the funding is expected to come from distance-based tolling, which will be capped at $7.35 in today’s dollars by the time the 33-kilometre network is complete in 2023.

The charge for the initial widened M4 section of the network is likely to be between $1.50 and $3.90.

Mr O’Farrell said an expert taskforce would advise the government on where smoke stacks should be located.

But Mr Gay was unable to say where homes would be demolished.

“There will be very few,” he told reporters.

“We’ve brought the best brains in the country and the world together to come up with something that (will) cause the minimum amount of stress to the community.”

Community consultation will begin next month and construction is set to start in early 2015.

Comment: The drone war comes to Asia

It’s now been a year since Japan’s previously ruling liberal government purchased three of the Senkaku Islands to prevent a nationalist and provocative Tokyo mayor from doing so himself.


The move was designed to dodge a potential crisis with China, which claims “indisputable sovereignty” over the islands it calls the Diaoyus.

Disregarding the Japanese government’s intent, Beijing has reacted to the “nationalization” of the islands by flooding the surrounding waters and airspace with Chinese vessels to undermine Japan’s de facto administration, which has persisted since the reversion of Okinawa from American control in 1971. Chinese incursions have become so frequent that the Japanese Air Self-Defense Forces (JASDF) are now scrambling jet fighters on a near-daily basis in response.

In the midst of this heightened tension, you could be forgiven for overlooking the news early in September that Japanese F-15s had again taken flight after Beijing graciously commemorated the one-year anniversary of Tokyo’s purchase by sending an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) toward the islands. But this wasn’t just another day at the office in the contested East China Sea: this was the first known case of a Chinese drone approaching the Senkakus.

Without a doubt, China’s drone adventure 100-miles north of the Senkakus was significant because it aggravated already abysmal relations between Tokyo and Beijing. Japanese officials responded to the incident by suggesting that Japan might have to place government personnel on the islands, a red line for Beijing that would have been unthinkable prior to the past few years of Chinese assertiveness.

But there’s a much bigger and more pernicious cycle in motion. The introduction of indigenous drones into Asia’s strategic environment — now made official by China’s maiden unmanned provocation — will bring with it additional sources of instability and escalation to the fiercely contested South and East China Seas. Even though no government in the region wants to participate in major power war, there is widespread and growing concern that military conflict could result from a minor incident that spirals out of control.

Unmanned systems could be just this trigger. They are less costly to produce and operate than their manned counterparts, meaning that we’re likely to see more crowded skies and seas in the years ahead. UAVs also tend to encourage greater risk-taking, given that a pilot’s life is not at risk. But being unmanned has its dangers: any number of software or communications failures could lead a mission awry. Combine all that with inexperienced operators and you have a perfect recipe for a mistake or miscalculation in an already tense strategic environment.

The underlying problem is not just the drones themselves. Asia is in the midst of transitioning to a new warfighting regime with serious escalatory potential. China’s military modernization is designed to deny adversaries freedom of maneuver over, on, and under the East and South China Seas. Although China argues that its strategy is primarily defensive, the capabilities it is choosing to acquire to create a “defensive” perimeter — long-range ballistic and cruise missiles, aircraft carriers, submarines — are acutely offensive in nature. During a serious crisis when tensions are high, China would have powerful incentives to use these capabilities, particularly missiles, before they were targeted by the United States or another adversary. The problem is that U.S. military plans and posture have the potential to be equally escalatory, as they would reportedly aim to “blind” an adversary — disrupting or destroying command and control nodes at the beginning of a conflict.

At the same time, the increasingly unstable balance of military power in the Pacific is exacerbated by the (re)emergence of other regional actors with their own advanced military capabilities. Countries that have the ability and resources to embark on rapid modernization campaigns (e.g., Japan, South Korea, Indonesia) are well on the way. This means that in addition to two great powers vying for military advantage, the region features an increasingly complex set of overlapping military-technical competitions that are accelerating tensions, adding to uncertainty and undermining stability.

This dangerous military dynamic will only get worse as more disruptive military technologies appear, including the rapid diffusion of unmanned and increasingly autonomous aerial and submersible vehicles coupled with increasingly effective offensive cyberspace capabilities.

One could take solace in Asia’s ability to manage these gnarly sources of insecurity if the region had demonstrated similar competencies elsewhere. But nothing could be further from the case. It has now been more than a decade since the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China signed a declaration “to promote a peaceful, friendly and harmonious environment in the South China Sea,” which was meant to be a precursor to a code of conduct for managing potential incidents, accidents, and crises at sea. But the parties are as far apart as ever, and that’s on well-trodden issues of maritime security with decades of legal and operational precedent to build upon.

It’s hard to be optimistic that the region will do better in an unmanned domain in which governments and militaries have little experience and where there remains a dearth of international norms, rules, and institutions from which to draw.

The rapid diffusion of advanced military technology is not a future trend. These capabilities are being fielded — right now — in perhaps the most geopolitically dangerous area in the world, over (and soon under) the contested seas of East and Southeast Asia. These risks will only increase with time as more disruptive capabilities emerge. In the absence of political leadership, these technologies could very well lead the region into war.

Shawn Brimley, Ben FitzGerald and Ely Ratner are, respectively, vice president, director of the Technology and National Security Program, and deputy director of the Asia Program at the Center for a New American Security.


© 2013, Foreign Policy

Comment: Australian drinking habits spirited away

New figures released by the Bureau of Statistics show that Australians consumed 184 million litres of pure alcohol in 2011-12, which is equivalent to ten litres per adult.


A massive 1.8 billion litres of beer was consumed, which provided the nation with 76 million litres of pure alcohol. But despite its popularity the figures also show that beer consumption is falling while wine consumption is gaining ground.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics yesterday released a set of figures on Australian alcohol consumption trends. The estimates are based on the amount of alcohol available for consumption using excise, import and sales figures.

In the 2011-12 financial year, beer was the most popular alcoholic drink in Australia. 1.8 billion litres were consumed by volume of fluid, which dwarfs the 545 million litres of wine consumed.

The chart above shows consumption levels based on pure alcohol content. Given the low alcohol content of beer relative to wine and spirits, the fairest comparison uses pure alcohol figures. Beer provided 41% of pure alcohol consumed, which is equivalent to 75.6 million litres. 69.3 million litres of wine was consumed, which provided 38% of the pure alcohol consumed by Australians.

The chart above shows the volume of pure alcohol consumed per adult for each decade from the 1960s to present. For the 2010s decade, data is only available up to the 2011-12 financial year.

We can see that since 1960, beer has generally been a far more popular tipple than wine or spirits, even when measuring by pure alcohol levels.

However, a clear trend has developed. Beer has gradually reduced in popularity from its peak of 8.75 litres of pure alcohol consumed per person during the 1970s to less than half that level during the current decade. Wine, meanwhile, is on an upward trajectory; almost trebling to 3.8 litres per person over a similar timeframe.

Based on current trends, it appears that wine will overtake beer as the most popular method of consuming alcohol at some point during this decade.

Spirits and pre-mixed drinks maintained fairly steady consumption levels from the 1960s to the 1990s. However, during the 2000s these drinks increased significantly in popularity, peaking in 2007-08 at 2.3 litres of pure alcohol consumed per Australian adult.

Consumption of beer in Australia has been on a downward trend over the past decade, which is a continuation of the trend seen since the 1960s. Overall consumption has dropped by about 20 litres per adult per year to 97 litres, which is equivalent to 4.1 litres of pure alcohol.

Full strength beer is classified as having more than 3.5% alcohol content and has dropped from 89 litres consumed per adult per year to 74 litres.  Low strength beer has dropped in popularity at an even faster rate, more than halving to a mere 6.2 litres per adult. However, mid strength beer has taken up some of the slack and is the only category to have increased in popularity during the timeframe, having increased 25% by volume.

White wine was consistently more popular than red wine during the decade to 2011-12. Both forms of wine have increased in popularity, although red wine has slightly outpaced white wine during the period. Red wine increased by 11% whereas white wine increased by 7%.

Overall, wine consumption has increased from about 26 litres per adult per year to 30 litres during the period. This is equivalent to 3.8 litres of pure alcohol consumed and represents a 15% rise over the decade.

John Elliott is a freelance data-driven writer originally from Scotland but now based in Brisbane.

Skaf rapist smiles after parole granted

Mohammed Sanoussi, the notorious Skaf gang rapist, gave the briefest of smiles when he found out he was soon going to be a free man.


It has been a long journey to freedom for the 29-year-old who has been in jail since he was 16 after getting convicted of rapes that shocked the country.

He has applied for parole four times and it was initially granted a fortnight ago, on the condition he did not associate with the Brothers For Life gang.

But it was revoked a day later when it emerged that his two brothers were charged with brutally bashing a cleaner at Revesby in Sydney’s southwest within hours of his hearing.

The State Parole Authority said Sanoussi’s post-release accommodation was unsuitable because his brothers, who are known gang members, lived there.

On Thursday, with his head shaved and wearing his prison greens, Sanoussi listened attentively at his parole hearing as the famous Sydney barrister Charles Waterstreet argued that he had paid the price for his actions and that parole should be reinstated.

“He was been long inside, he has done all the courses,” Mr Waterstreet told the hearing in Parramatta on Thursday.

“It’s not his fault his brothers acted in this way.

“The delay is something that would aggravate someone who was supposed to be out.

“His parents probably need to see him as much as he needs to see them.”

Paul Nash, who was representing Corrective Services, tried to delay the parole until there was stability in his living arrangements but this was rejected.

After a considering period that lasted no longer than two minutes, judge Terence Christie conceded that his brother’s crimes had nothing to do with him.

He ordered that Sanoussi be released next month and by October 10 at the latest.

He ordered that he live in a half-way house until he finds independent accommodation or until his two brothers move out of the family home.

Sanoussi was also told not to be in contact with his two brothers Ahmed and Mahmoud Sanoussi, unless he gets permission from his supervising officer.

Sanoussi was sentenced to 16 years in prison for his role in the August 2000 gang rapes of young girls in isolated Sydney locations.

The attacks involved 14 men and were led by brothers Bilal and Mohammed Skaf.

Bilal Skaf is serving a 36-year prison term, while Mohammed Skaf is serving a 23-year prison term.

The parole authority has said it expects to free another member of the notorious gang, who can only be identified as Offender H, at a separate public hearing next month.

I had tackle count concerns: Raper

Dumped NRL referees boss Stuart Raper admitted he was concerned about successor Daniel Anderson’s new tackle count system before it spectacularly failed in North Queensland’s controversial finals loss.


And Raper conceded scrutiny over Cronulla’s now infamous seventh-tackle try would only add more pressure on whistleblowers in the NRL finals but was confident mistakes would not determine the 2013 premier.

Raper and Bill Harrigan were let go as NRL referees co-coaches after a controversial 2012 season was capped by Manly scoring off an undetected Kieran Foran knock-on, which contributed to knocking the Cowboys out of the finals.

Twelve months later Anderson is feeling the heat after the tackle count system Raper claimed was introduced this year let North Queensland down in their 20-18 loss to Cronulla.

Raper admitted he had a problem with Anderson using a system in which referees used different methods to count tackles rather than verbalising every one.

Anderson has since reverted to referees calling out each tackle after sacking all six officials responsible for last week’s debacle.

“That concerned me when they changed it because you need to communicate in the ruck,” Raper told AAP.

“I thought they were going to have a drama with it.

“It is the first thing the referee should be doing, counting tackles.

“They don’t make basic errors like that anymore in refereeing, because usually there are fail-safe mechanisms.

“I can’t remember the last time a seventh tackle try has occurred in a game.”

Raper admitted more mistakes would be made in the NRL finals but did not believe teams should be nervous that a referee could cost them their season.

“It (seventh tackle try debacle) puts a lot of pressure on the referees,” Raper said.

“Everyone is worried a bad call can dictate a game but it is very rare such a black and white call goes against a team.

“A lot of people say they have been dudded by the referee but usually they are matters of opinion, grey areas.

“There are still going to be disputed calls and referees will make errors in those grey areas.

“But teams should not be nervous of a basic error happening again.”

Raper said he felt for the Cowboys but believed the refereeing howler did not cost them the game.

“It was a bad decision by the referee but there was 73 minutes left of football,” he said.

Raper rated the seventh tackle fiasco “worse” than the 2012 Foran knock-on now dubbed the “Hand of Foz” which sealed his fate as NRL referees co-coach.

But he believed the refereeing standard this year was “at the same level” as 2012.

“People might laugh because I was involved in it last year but at the end of the day the referees are still doing a pretty good job,” he said.

“Last week they made one error in the whole game.”

Ex-boxing champion Ken Norton dies

Former boxing world champion Ken Norton, considered one of the greatest heavyweights of his era, has died aged 70.


Norton was best known for beating Muhammad Ali in 1973, breaking the Hall of Famer’s jaw in the process.

The LA Times reported he died at an Arizona aged care facility on Wednesday.

Norton, who suffered a stroke last year, ended his brilliant career with a record of 42 wins, seven losses, one draw and 33 knockouts.

He fought in the 1970s era of magnificent heavyweights – a group that also included Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Leon Spinks and Jimmy Young.

“They called us handsome. Muhammad they called pretty. But the fairest of them all Ken Norton,” Foreman wrote on his Twitter page. “What a loss to all of us.”

Other tributes also quickly poured in for Norton, who was once given the title of the “Father of the Year” by the Los Angeles Times in 1977.

“My heart has been heavy since hearing the news earlier today,” boxer Larry Holmes wrote on Twitter. “He was a good man. #RIP #KenNorton.”

Norton was born in Jacksonville, Illinois, and was an award-winning athlete in American football and track and field at Jacksonville High School. His prowess on the gridiron earned him a scholarship to Northeast Missouri State University.

He started boxing during his four year-stint in the United States Marine Corps, which he joined in 1963.

In March 1973, Norton shocked the boxing world by winning a split decision over Ali at the San Diego Sports Arena.

He would go on to fight Ali twice more, losing both times. He lost a split decision to Ali later in 1973 and by a unanimous decision in 1976 at Yankee Stadium.

In 1974, Norton fought and lost to Foreman in Venezuela for the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association heavyweight titles. The fight was stopped in the second round after Foreman knocked him down three times.

Norton, who was nicknamed “The Black Hercules”, also fought Holmes, losing his title late in his career to the up-and-coming heavyweight in 1978. It was the first defence of the WBC title for Norton, who fought in the era where championship fights lasted 15 rounds.

Former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson said he met Norton when Tyson was still an amateur boxer.

“Today a great man passed away,” Tyson wrote on Twitter. “A legend in the boxing world and a good man.

“Ken Norton was always nice to me even when I was just an amateur fighter. He always treated me like I was somebody. Remarkable man.”

Norton had what some called an unconventional style. He would lean forward backing his opponent up while holding both arms up high and across his face like he was looking through the bars of a gridiron helmet.

That style helped him win scores of fights and after he retired he starred in movies, appearing in about 20 Hollywood films.

The character of Apollo Creed in “Rocky” was originally going to be played by Norton, but when he back out of the role, Carl Weathers took the job.

Norton was involved in a bad car accident in 1986. He recovered, and three years later he was inducted to the World Boxing Hall of Fame.

Reflecting the strong athletic pedigree, one of Norton’s sons, Ken Jr., played in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers.

Mexican toll rises, landslide buries town

A resurgent hurricane has neared Mexico’s northwest coast after twin storms killed at least 80 people nationwide and buried part of a village under a mudslide, leaving dozens more missing.


President Enrique Pena Nieto said on Wednesday 58 people were missing after a “major landslide” collapsed on La Pintada, a village of 400 people in the mountains of southwestern Guerrero state.

“We are not sure for the moment how many people are trapped under the mud,” Pena Nieto said.

Ediberto Tabarez, the mayor of Atoyac de Alvarez, a municipality that oversees La Pintada, said in a phone interview at least 15 bodies have been pulled out of the rubble.

Tabarez said the situation was “very critical” after more than 20 homes were crushed in the remote village, located west of the Pacific resort of Acapulco.

Pena Nieto said more than 280 villagers were evacuated and 91 would be rescued later.

Authorities said the death toll had risen to 80 across the country after a pair of tropical storms, Ingrid and Manuel, triggered landslides and floods over large swathes of Mexico this week.

As the tragedy worsened, Manuel regenerated into a category one hurricane as it closed in on the state of Sinaloa, packing top winds of 75 miles (115km) per hour and threatening to spark flash floods and mudslides, the US National Hurricane Center said.

A tropical cyclone may also form on the east coast.

The new threat came after Ingrid, which was a hurricane before hitting 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.

The two highways linking Acapulco to Mexico City were covered by landslides while the resort’s airport was flooded, stranding tens of thousands of tourists who lined up for precious seats on emergency airlifts.

Authorities said they hoped to re-open the land link between the Pacific resort and the capital on Friday, allowing people to leave the former favourite haunt of Hollywood stars which is 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.

The civilian airport’s terminal was flooded in knee-high dark water, but commercial carriers began special flights on Tuesday despite the lack of functioning radar.

More than 5000 people have been flown out since Tuesday, officials said, with Mexican airlines Aeromexico and Interjet offering free flights for people without prior reservations.

Sailing-New Zealand on cusp of America’s Cup victory

But New Zealand will have to wait at least another day to clinch the Cup after Wednesday’s second race was postponed seconds before the starting gun due to high winds, the second straight day that a strong sea breeze and outgoing tide combined to make conditions on San Francisco Bay unsafe for the fragile 72-foot catamarans.


In the race that did take place, New Zealand turned in a textbook performance that left defender Oracle with nowhere to turn. Oracle, once the favourite to retain the title that it won three years ago, still needs eight victories to hold on to the trophy.

New Zealand won the start and never trailed, crossing the finish line 15 seconds ahead of the Cup defender, although Oracle closed the gap briefly on the crucial upwind leg before losing ground again with a poor tacking manoeuvre.

“Every win is so hard. You’re thankful for every win you get,” said New Zealand skipper Dean Barker. “You have two boats that are pretty even in performance.”

New Zealand dominated matches between the two teams in the first week of the America’s Cup finals on San Francisco Bay, then lost momentum over the weekend when a vastly improved Oracle won its second and third matches, raising hopes of a last-minute comeback.

Oracle, which lost six of the first seven races in the series, became far more competitive after making changes to its twin-hulled AC72 and has greatly improved its upwind tacking. But Oracle’s new-found speed appears most pronounced in heavier winds, and the breezes were comparatively light in Wednesday’s race, averaging 15 knots (17 mph).

On Tuesday, both races were cancelled. Organizers set the limits on wind speeds after Swedish team Artemis Racing suffered a fatal training accident in May.

A proposal by Oracle this week to increase the wind limits for racing was rejected by New Zealand.

Sunday’s matches were among the most thrilling in yacht-racing history. The two supercharged AC72s duelled neck and neck in the second race, changing leads four times, an America’s Cup record, before New Zealand eked out a victory. On Saturday, New Zealand narrowly avoided catastrophe with a near-capsize that cost it the race.

But Wednesday’s first race reverted to form, with New Zealand’s steady performance proving more than enough for victory.

Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill said he was not yet prepared to let the coveted trophy go. “It’s a long way from over,” he said.

( The story was refiled to change byline)

(Editing by Alden Bentley)

Bombers in ASADA’s sights: reports

More than a dozen Essendon AFL players and officials are in line to receive infraction notices from ASADA, according to newspaper reports.


The Australian says officials are preparing the legal paperwork to issue infraction notices to at least seven AFL players and officials resulting from the long investigation into the suspect supplements program at Essendon in 2012.

But the final numbers of those who may be implicated may be more than a dozen, the paper says.

The first wave of infraction notices would be issued at the conclusion of the current AFL season.

Bombers club doctor Bruce Reid, who had all charges against him of bringing the game into disrepute and conduct unbecoming withdrawn by the AFL on Wednesday before his matter could go to court, was likely to avoid an infraction notice.

Any action by ASADA could result in heavy suspensions for players found to have taken banned substances or officials who may have sanctioned them, in addition to the penalties already handed down by the AFL.

Bombers coach James Hird was suspended for 12 months by the AFL for his role in the supplements scandal, with football manager Danny Corcoran suspended for four months and assistant coach Mark Thompson fined $30,000.

The AFL also banned Essendon from participating in the 2013 finals series, fined it $2 million and imposed draft penalties on the club for the next two years.

Essendon’s interim chief executive Ray Gunston issued a statement on Thursday over the claims that ASADA was set to move on players and officials at the club.

“The club understands that there is no factual basis to the story in relation to the issuing of infraction notices at this point in time,” Gunston said.

New hurricane lashes Mexico

A resurgent hurricane lashed Mexico’s northwest coast Wednesday after twin storms killed at least 80 people nationwide and buried  a village under a mudslide, leaving dozens more missing.



Hurricane Manuel was “hugging” the coast of Sinaloa with winds of 75 miles (120 kilometers) per hour, threatening to spark flash floods and landslides, the US National Hurricane Center said.


Earlier this week, Manuel pummeled the southwestern Pacific coast as a tropical storm while Ingrid barreled across the east in a dual onslaught unseen since 1958.


The storms damaged bridges, caused rivers to overflow and flooded half of the Pacific resort of Acapulco, stranding tens of thousands of tourists who sought airlifts while looters ransacked stores.


Authorities said the death toll had risen to 80 across 12 of 32 states, but the body count could rise after the grim discovery of a huge mudslide in the mountains of southwestern Guerrero state.


President Enrique Pena Nieto said 58 people were missing after a “major landslide” collapsed on La Pintada, a remote village of 400 people west of Acapulco.


“We are not sure for the moment how many people are trapped under the mud,” Pena Nieto said.


Ediberto Tabarez, the mayor of Atoyac de Alvarez, a municipality that oversees La Pintada, told AFP in a phone interview that at least 15 bodies have been found.


Tabarez said the situation was “very critical” after more than 20 homes were crushed.


Survivors who were evacuated to Acapulco told AFP that villagers were having lunch during independence day celebrations on Monday when a thundering noise came from the hill.


Then the earth came crashing down on homes, the church and schools as people ran for their lives, said the survivors who were taken to convention center serving as a shelter for storm victims.


Ana Clara Catalan, 17, was preparing corn tortillas when she heard a “loud noise.”


“We ran out. It was an ugly noise, worse than a bomb,” she said. “The school, the kindergarten and the church were lost.”


News of the disaster only emerged after a survivor was able to radio someone in a neighboring village.


“More than half of La Pintada was demolished, few homes were left,” said Maria del Carmen Catalan, a 27-year-old mother of three.


Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said 334 people — mostly women, children and senior citizens — were evacuated by police helicopters while 45 men would spend the night there before being rescued Thursday.


Osorio Chong held up a picture showing the mountain of earth and rock smack in the middle of the village.


He said the search for bodies will only begin Thursday because the area remains dangerous, with water gushing from where the earth fell, threatening to trigger another landslide.


The storms have affected some 220,000 people across the country, damaging 35,000 homes, officials said.


With Acapulco isolated, authorities were scrambling to clear rocks and mud from the two highways to Mexico City and hoped to open a way out on Friday.


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.”


Thousands of desperate and exhausted tourists stood in massive lines to board military aircraft at an air force base, shouting as some cut the line.


Their anger rose as a separate, shorter line formed for wealthier visitors who booked flights on private jets.


“I ask the government that, since we all pay taxes, we all be treated the same way because the rich and the poor are equal in this tragedy,” said Leonor Carretto, 45, whose five-year-old daughter was running a fever after waiting for hours in line.


The civilian airport’s terminal was flooded in knee-high dark water, but commercial carriers Aeromexico and Interjet have flown special flights since Tuesday despite the lack of functioning radar.


More than 5,000 people have been flown out since Tuesday and officials hope to have evacuated 15,000 by Thursday.