Twin hurricanes that battered Mexico on both coasts have left at least 97 people dead and 68 missing while thousands of tourists stranded in Acapulco struggled to find clean water.
Dozens of people remained trapped in the coffee-growing village of La Pintada after a mountain collapsed on their homes in Guerrero, the southern state hardest hit by the rains. Manuel weakened from a hurricane to a tropical storm after going ashore on Mexico’s Pacific coast, the latest storm to batter the water-logged nation.
The Army is struggling to evacuate villagers after the landslide as well as rescuing others in remote outposts where parts of mountains have collapsed or at risk of toppling, Interior Minister Miguel Osorio Chong said in a radio interview today. Hurricane Ingrid on the east coast and Hurricane Manuel’s first blow as a tropical storm on the Pacific drove almost 50,000 people from their homes and stranded 40,000 more in Acapulco, which is also in Guerrero.
“There are many landslides because of the sheer amount of water,” Osorio Chong said on Radio Formula. “We’re convincing people who want to stay behind that they’re running a risk.”
Manuel made landfall west of Culiacan in the state of Sinaloa. Heavy rains spread inland as Manuel, about 120 miles (190 kilometers) east of Los Mochis, registered top sustained winds of 45 miles per hour, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
All watches and warnings have been dropped. The state government is reporting 100,000 people affected by the rains in Sinaloa, according to the newspaper El Universal.
It was the second direct hit by the storm, which struck the country farther south over the weekend and may bring 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 centimeters) of rain across western Mexico.
“It seems like Mexico can’t get a break from the rain this year,” said Dan Kottlowski, a meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.
Ricardo Sala, a 45-year-old Mexico City resident who spent the long Independence Day weekend in Acapulco, has been stuck in his timeshare as the highway back to the capital is closed. He and his wife and daughter have struggled to find clean water and fresh fruits and vegetables are scarce at the grocery store near the main hotel strip in the resort city, Sala said.
While his family has enough to eat and drink for now, conditions aren’t sustainable for much longer, Sala said. “Hell will break loose next week if truckloads still can’t make it into Acapulco,” he wrote in an e-mail.
The army is working to remove blockages along the main highway between Acapulco and Mexico City by tomorrow, Osorio Chong said. Mexico’s two largest airlines, Grupo Aeromexico SAB and Interjet, have been flying thousands of stranded Acapulco tourists for free to Mexico City after heavy rains limited the airport’s services.
As Manuel begins to break up in the mountains, another tropical system may take shape in the Bay of Campeche, in the southern Gulf of Mexico. An area of disturbed weather there has a 60 percent chance of becoming tropical in the next five days, according to the hurricane center.
The Bay of Campeche is where Petroleos Mexicanos, Mexico’s state-owned oil company known as Pemex, has its two largest oil fields, which produce about 1.25 million barrels a day.
“The main impacts of this system is it’s going to generate very heavy rainfall in those areas that got hit with very heavy rainfall with Ingrid,” Kottlowski said. Kottlowski said the system will probably become a tropical depression later today. If it becomes Tropical Storm Jerry, it would be the Atlantic hurricane season’s 10th named storm.