Little hope of survivors

2013-09-22 09:23
An aerial view of a landslide along a highway going to Acapulco, in the Mexican state of Guerrero, as heavy rains hit the country. (Interior Ministry, AFP)

An aerial view of a landslide along a highway going to Acapulco, in the Mexican state of Guerrero, as heavy rains hit the country. (Interior Ministry, AFP)

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La Pintada - Rescuers fighting tons of slippery, wet mud at the site of this week's worst storm disaster unearthed the bodies of two women on Saturday, possibly among the 68 people missing in a massive landslide that buried half of the remote coffee-growing town of La Pintada.

Houses were filled to their roofs with dirt and vehicles were tossed on their sides when the hillside collapsed on Monday afternoon after several days of rain brought by Tropical Storm Manuel, which along with Hurricane Ingrid gave Mexico a one-two punch last weekend.

"As of today, there is little hope now that we will find anyone alive," said President Enrique Pena Nieto after touring the devastation, adding that the landslide covered at least 40 homes.

Pena Nieto told storm survivors that La Pintada, a town of 800, would be relocated and rebuilt in a safer location as officials responded to a wave of criticism that negligence and corruption were to blame for the vast devastation caused by two relatively weak storm systems.

"I will come to inaugurate a new La Pintada," he said. "That's a promise I'm making today to this community, which has undergone such a misfortune."

Authorities on Saturday also found the wreckage of a Federal Police helicopter that was working on the La Pintada rescue when it went missing nearby on Thursday. All aboard died, five federal police, according to local media. Security spokesperson Eduardo Sanchez said he could not confirm the number on board.

All week in Mexico City, editorials and public commentary said the government had made natural disasters worse because of poor planning, lack of a prevention strategy and corruption.

"Governments aren't responsible for the occurrence of severe weather, but they are for the prevention of the effects," wrote Mexico's nonprofit Centre of Investigation for Development in an online editorial criticising a federal programme to improve infrastructure and relocate communities out of dangerous flood zones. "The National Water Programme had good intentions but its execution was at best poor."

Ingrid and Manuel simultaneously pounded both of Mexico's coasts, killing at least 101 people, not including the helicopter crash victims or the 68 missing. Interior Secretary Miguel Osorio Chong told Mexican media the death toll could go as high as 200 in the coming days, nearing that of Hurricane Paulina, which hit Guerrero state in 1997 and caused one of Mexico's worst storm disasters.

Read more on:    mexico  |  weather

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