Rescuers pull bodies from Mexico mudslide

2013-09-20 08:02
Federal Police officers search for bodies on the site of a landslide in La Pintada, state of Guerrero, Mexico. (Ronaldo Schemidt, AFP)

Federal Police officers search for bodies on the site of a landslide in La Pintada, state of Guerrero, Mexico. (Ronaldo Schemidt, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

La Pintada - Rescuers pulled two bodies on Thursday from a mudslide that buried a Mexican village, but dozens remained missing after storms lashed the country and killed almost 100 people nationwide.

As soldiers and police removed debris in the south-western village, Hurricane Manuel pounded the northwest state of Sinaloa, bringing more rain to the flood-stricken nation before weakening back to a tropical depression hours later.

Luis Felipe Puente, the national civil protection co-ordinator, said the death toll from days of floods and landslides had jumped to 97 from 81, with 65 of the victims registered in the south-western state of Guerrero.

Guerrero was the hardest-hit state from the dual onslaught of Manuel and sister storm Ingrid on the east coast this week that drenched most of Mexico, damaging bridges, roads and tens of thousands of homes.

The storms flooded half of Acapulco, including the airport terminal, while landslides blocked the only roads linking the city to the capital. Thousands of angry, stranded tourists held a protest, demanding swifter airlifts.

West of the city, in the mountains of Guerrero, some 100 rescuers toiled in the mud to look for victims of an epic mudslide that swamped half the coffee-growing village of La Pintada and left 68 people missing.

Wearing surgical masks, they removed pieces of broken homes and chopped up collapsed trees with machetes. The village church vanished; only its broken steeple was left, toppled on a mess of mud, with its cross broken.

'My friends died'

Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said soldiers had found two bodies so far. The municipality's mayor has said that 15 corpses were found by villagers in recent days.

"The rescue work has begun. It's very complicated, it won't be easy, it won't be just a few days," Osorio Chong said after visiting the village.

The mud cascaded down a hill and covered much of the village, burying homes, the school and church before ending its mad descent in a river.

"People were in the church asking God to stop the rain," said Roberto Catalan, a 56-year-old farmer. "The earth had been bubbling. When we heard a bang, we ran out."

Jose Minos Romero, aged 12, said he was playing soccer with 10 other children and was only saved "because my mother called me," but "my friends died".

The mudslide swamped the village on Monday as many people were having lunch during Independence Day celebrations. News of the tragedy only emerged two days later after a survivor radioed a neighbouring village.

The search for bodies was delayed several hours due to fears that water gushing from the mountain could trigger a new landslide in the village.

But troops finally arrived by helicopter and foot after a seven-hour trek on a winding mountain road covered by mud and rocks.

Police helicopters evacuated more than 330 people to Acapulco on Wednesday, and authorities said up to 30 survivors had decided to stay back until victims were found.

The storms that swept across the nation have damaged 35 000 homes and forced the evacuation of 50 000 people, officials said.

Authorities hope to re-open part of the highways around Acapulco on Friday, giving desperate and exhausted visitors a new way out after being trapped for almost a week.

Osorio Chong said some 12 000 of 40 000 tourists had been flown to Mexico City in special military and commercial flights from an air force base and the civilian airport.

But some 5 000 frustrated tourists sheltered at the convention centre blocked an avenue for half an hour to complain about the pace of the airlift.

And a human rights group accused the authorities of neglecting mountain communities, while focusing on cities like Acapulco.

Osorio Chong countered that "we do care about the lives of people in the mountains" but "we can't enter some communities by air or land".

The US National Hurricane Centre said that Manuel was expected to dissipate late on Thursday, but a new tropical cyclone threatened to form in the east and cause more misery.

Read more on:    mexico  |  natural disasters  |  floods

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.