Massive mudslide buries village
Updated: 2013-09-20 16:11
By Leticia Pineda in Acapulco (China Daily)
Mexican death toll from storms rises to 80, with dozens missing
A resurgent hurricane lashed Mexico's northwest coast on Thursday after twin storms killed at least 80 people nationwide and buried a village under a massive mudslide, leaving dozens more missing.
Hurricane Manuel was hugging the coast of Sinaloa with winds of 120 kilometers per hour, threatening to spark flash floods and landslides, the US National Hurricane Center said.
Earlier this week, Manuel pummeled the southwestern Pacific coast with tropical storm force while Ingrid barreled across the east in a dual onslaught unseen since 1958.
The storms damaged bridges, caused rivers to overflow and flooded half of the Pacific resort of Acapulco, stranding tens of thousands of tourists who sought airlifts while looters ransacked stores.
Authorities said on Wednesday that the death toll had risen to 80 across 12 of 32 states, but the body count could rise after the grim discovery of a huge mudslide in the mountains of southwestern Guerrero state.
President Enrique Pena Nieto said 58 people were missing after a "major landslide" collapsed on La Pintada, a remote village of 400 people west of Acapulco.
"We are not sure for the moment how many people are trapped under the mud," Pena Nieto said.
Ediberto Tabarez, the mayor of Atoyac de Alvarez, a municipality that oversees La Pintada, told AFP by telephone that at least 15 bodies have been found.
Survivors who were evacuated to Acapulco said that villagers were having lunch during independence day celebrations on Monday when a thundering noise came from the hill. Then the earth came crashing down on homes, the church and schools as people ran for their lives.
News of the disaster only emerged after a survivor was able to radio someone in a neighboring village. "More than half of La Pintada was demolished. Few homes were left," said Maria del Carmen Catalan, 27, a mother of three.
Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong held up a picture showing the mountain of earth and rock smack in the middle of the village. He said the search for bodies will only begin on Thursday because the area remains dangerous, with water gushing, threatening to trigger another landslide.
The storms have affected some 220,000 people across the country, damaging 35,000 homes, officials said.
Thousands of exhausted tourists stood in massive lines to board military aircraft at an air force base. More than 5,000 people have been flown out and officials hope to have evacuated 15,000 by Thursday.
A man uses a makeshift rope line to cross a river after a bridge collapsed under the force of rains caused by Hurricane Manuel near the town of Petaquillas, Mexico, on Wednesday. Alejandrino Gonzalez / The Associated Press
Soldiers hand out water to residents in Acapulco on Wednesday. Looting broke out in the flooded Mexican beach resort as the government struggled to reach thousands cut off by some of the worst storm damage in decades. Tomas Bravo / Reuters
(China Daily USA 09/20/2013 page6)