ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) — At least 43 people died when Category 5 Hurricane Otis hit Mexico’s southern Pacific coast,…
ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) — At least 43 people died when Category 5 Hurricane Otis hit Mexico’s southern Pacific coast, the governor of hard-hit Guerrero said Sunday, as the death toll rose continued to climb and families buried their loved ones.
Gov. Evelyn Salgado said on X, the platform formerly called Twitter, that the number of missing people also rose to 36 from 10 a day earlier. 39 Saturday.
In Acapulco, families held funerals for the dead Sunday and continued the search for essential supplies as officials and volunteers cleared streets clogged with mud and debris from the powerful Category 5 hurricane.
Kathy Barrera, 30, said Sunday that her aunt’s family was buried under a landslide when tons of mud and rocks fell on their home. His aunt’s body was found along with the remains of their three children aged 2 to 21. His uncle was still missing. Furthermore, Barrera’s mother and brother are also missing.
“The water came in with the stones, the mud and completely buried them,” Barrera, who stood outside a local morgue, said of his aunt’s family.
On Sunday, authorities handed over the bodies of his aunt and her two youngest children to relatives. Bodies in white bags were loaded into open coffins in the backs of hearses. The eldest daughter had already been buried the day before.
As she prepared to lay her loved ones to rest, Barrera – who had barely had a chance to search for her own mother and brother – expressed despair and frustration at the help and staff she had started to see in the tourist areas of the city – but not in their neighborhood located on the mountainside affected by landslides.
“There are many, many people here at the (morgue), they are entire families, families of six, families of four, even eight people,” she said. “I want to ask the authorities not to lie… there are a lot of people who arrive dead. »
For a short time outside the morgue Sunday morning, at least half a dozen families arrived, some looking for loved ones; other identification organizations and still others making declarations to the authorities.
The somber convoys of hearses and relatives passed through much of Acapulco en route to the cemetery, passing ransacked stores, debris-strewn streets and soldiers cutting down fallen trees.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Saturday that his opponents were trying to inflate the toll to harm him politically, but with hundreds of families still waiting for news of their loved ones, it risked continuing to rise.
Otis came ashore early Wednesday with devastating winds of 166 mph after strengthening so quickly that people had little time to prepare.
Kristian Vera stood on an Acapulco beach Saturday, watching dozens of sunken boats, including three of his own, all marked by buoys floating or simply sticking out of the water.
Even though she lost her livelihood during Otis’ brutal assault on the coast, she felt lucky. Earlier in the day, she observed a body being pulled from the water and saw families coming and going looking for their loved ones.
Many people boarded boats as what began as a tropical storm grew into a catastrophic Category 5 hurricane in just 12 hours.
Leaning against a small wooden fishing boat like hers, turned on its side on a beach littered with trash and fallen trees, she explained that some of the dead were either fishermen tending to their boats or yacht captains informed by their owners. to make sure their boats were okay when Otis was approaching like a tropical storm.
“That night I was so worried because I live on this, this is how I feed my children,” Vera said. “But when I started to feel the force of the wind, I said: ‘Tomorrow I won’t have a boat, but God willing, Acapulco will see another day.'”
Soldiers and volunteers worked along Acapulco’s main tourist street Saturday, and Salgado announced Sunday that the boulevard had been cleared of debris.
Salgado also said the national electricity company reported restoring electricity to 58 percent of Acapulco’s homes and businesses and that 21 tanker trucks were distributing water to outlying neighborhoods.
But on the outskirts of the city, neighborhoods remain in ruins.
Help took a long time to arrive. The destruction from the storm isolated the city of nearly a million residents for the first day, and because Otis intensified so quickly Tuesday, little or nothing had been organized in advance.
The military presence has increased to 15,000 people in the region. López Obrador had called on the armed forces to establish checkpoints in the city to prevent looting and theft.
The federal civil protection agency recorded 220,000 homes damaged by the storm, he said.
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Associated Press writer Fabiola Sánchez in Mexico City contributed to this report.
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