Chaos as floods submerge Mexico’s Acapulco, death toll rises

ACAPULCO, Mexico (Reuters) – Mexico’s famous beach resort of Acapulco was in chaos yesterday as hotels rationed food for thousands of stranded tourists and floodwaters swallowed homes and cars after some of the most damaging storms in decades killed at least 55 people across the country.

Television footage showed Acapulco’s international airport terminal waist deep in water and workers wading out to escape floods that have prevented some 40,000 visitors from leaving and blocked one of the main access routes to the city with mud.

A torrential, three-day downpour cut off several roads into the Pacific resort of 750,000 people, which was a magnet for Hollywood stars in its heyday, but had the highest murder rate in Mexico last year amid a surge in drug gang violence.

The flooding has disrupted deliveries of supplies, piling fresh misery on a city heavily dependent on tourist spending. The entrance to a main hillside tunnel into Acapulco was completely blocked with mud.

The rains were spawned by two major storms that converged on Mexico from the Pacific and the Gulf, triggering flash floods that washed away homes and landslides in eastern Mexico.

Tropical Depression Manuel had faded but was strengthening again on the Pacific coast on Tuesday, moving northwest toward the Baja California peninsula. It was expected to become a Tropical Storm again late yesterday or early today, the US National Hurricane Center said.

Much of Acapulco’s upscale Diamante district was flooded, and tourists were unable to take cash out of bank machines due to lack of power. Fast food outlets were also without power, and insisted on payment in cash.

“I had to go to a pawn shop to leave some jewellery to get money to be able to eat and pay for accommodation,” said Cristina Dominguez Navarro, who rented an apartment in Acapulco with her family.

“We came with just enough money for three days and now we have been here for five,” she said. “I don’t know what we’ll do if they don’t open the motorway soon.”

Some large hotels offered stranded guests a free night of accommodation. But conditions were tough.

“They’ve started to ration food here,” said Pedro de la Torre, a 53-year-old graphic designer from Mexico City who was stranded in a hotel in Acapulco. “People are starting to get annoyed. I lost two cars, total write-offs.”

Outside the hotel, guests waded to their waterlogged vehicles in the hope of recovering whatever they could.

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