Double whammy storms hit Mexico

2013-09-16 21:00
View of flooded streets in Acapulco, Guerrero state, Mexico during the passage of Tropical Storm Manuel. (Pedro Pardo, AFP)

View of flooded streets in Acapulco, Guerrero state, Mexico during the passage of Tropical Storm Manuel. (Pedro Pardo, AFP)

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Acapulco - Authorities scrambled to rescue people stranded in flooded homes in Mexico's resort of Acapulco on Monday after twin storms slammed opposite coasts in a rare one-two punch that has killed 22 people.

Hurricane Ingrid weakened to tropical storm strength as it made landfall on the northeastern coast in the morning while the Pacific coast was reeling from the remnants of Tropical Storm Manuel, which dissipated after striking on Sunday.

Thousands of people were evacuated on both sides of the country as the two storms set off landslides and floods that damaged bridges, roads and homes.

The last time the country was hit by two tropical storms in the span of 24 hours was in 1958, officials said. It was never hit by a hurricane and another storm at the same time.

"More than two-thirds of the national territory has been affected," Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong told a news conference.

At least 15 of the 22 deaths occurred in the southwestern state of Guerrero, where Acapulco lies, said national civil protection chief Luis Felipe Puente.

Six more people died in the central states of Hidalgo and Puebla and one in the southern state of Oaxaca. Guerrero state officials reported six deaths in a road accident, but Puente did not include them in his account.

Around 50 towns were affected in Guerrero, with some 238 000 people enduring various levels of damage in their homes, Puente said.

The highway linking Acapulco to Mexico City was closed due to landslides while the tourist town's airport was shut down, with some 100 people stranded on the terminal's second floor. Authorities hoped to reopen both later on Monday.

With waters rising as high as one metre in some neighbourhoods, soldiers used boats to pluck around 100 people who took refuge on upper floors or the roofs of homes.

Hundreds evacuated

The flooding brought out crocodiles, complicating the rescue work, officials said. Those rescued were taken to an auditorium that was converted into a shelter.

Authorities are working to create an air lift in the town of Pie de la Cuesta to transport people, Guerrero state Governor Angel Aguirre told Televisa television.

At least 11 of the 22 deaths were in Acapulco, including a family of six whose home was crushed by a landslide.

The storms forced authorities to cancel independence day celebrations in several towns.

In the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, hundreds of people were evacuated as Ingrid made landfall near the town of La Pesca and its maximum sustained winds slowed to 95km per hour as it moved inland, according to the US National Hurricane Centre.

The storm was bringing heavy rainfall in the region, the Miami-based centre said.

"We have to be very alert in the northern states. It just started raining and the damage will be seen in the next few hours," said Mexican National Water Commission director David Korenfeld.

Several communities were cut off by rising waters while authorities rescued two power company workers whose truck was dragged away by an overflowing river.

State-run energy firm Pemex evacuated three oil platforms off the Gulf coast of the northeastern state of Tamaulipas and shut down 24 wells.

Manuel meanwhile dissipated overnight but it was still producing rain on the west coast.

Read more on:    mexico  |  weather

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