September 18, 2013

Mexico floods kill 80; thousands stranded

Many tell of spending the weekend trapped by torrential rains inside their hotels, emerging to discover there was no way back home.

By Michael Weissenstein / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Tourists stand in line at a military airbase in hopes of getting a seat on a Mexican Air Force jet, in Pie de la Cuesta, near Acapulco, Mexico, on Tuesday.

AP

"We lost everything, our house, our bed, the fans, the refrigerator, the television," said Omar, but Marisela was just happy just to be safe with her newborn. "We're good here," she said.

Outside, those waiting in the enormous lines for an airplane ticket out weren't so lucky; they sweltered in the sun that had re-appeared after the storm.

Catalina Clave, 46, who works at the Mexico City stock exchange, sweated in the humid heat along with her husband and a group of friends who had been vacationing in Acapulco. Their excruciating wait had already stretched for two days.

"Forty-eight hours without electricity, no running water and now we can't get home," Clave said. "Now all I ask for is some shade and some information." So far, authorities said they had flown about 5,300 people out of Acapulco.

The government has promised to reopen the roads between Acapulco and Mexico City, but they were blocked by dozens of mudslides, rocks and collapsed tunnels, and the first provisional way out won't be ready for days, officials predict.

Some cash machines along Acapulco's coastal boulevard were low on bills, but most of the city's tourist zone appeared back to normal Wednesday, with roads clear, restaurants and hotels open and brightly lit and tourists strolling along the bay in an attempt to recover some of the leisure time lost to three days of incessant rains.

Gavin McLoughlin, 27, another teacher at Mexico City's Greengates School, said he went to Acapulco on a late-night bus Thursday with about 30 other teachers at the school, many of whom are in their 20s.

"We had no idea of the weather," the Englishman said. "We knew there was a hurricane on the other side but not this side."

City officials said about 23,000 homes, mostly on Acapulco's outskirts, were without electricity and water. Stores were nearly emptied by residents who rushed to stock up on basic goods. Landslides and flooding damaged an unknown number of homes.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Manuel was centered about 100 miles west-northwest of Mazatlan, with sustained winds of 60 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. It was projected to rake the coast with near-hurricane-force winds on Thursday.

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