Environment

Floods, landslides plague Mexico after dual storms

'Historic' floods kill more than 40 people following Tropical Storms Manuel and Ingrid

A landslide caused by heavy rainfall in the state of Veracruz on Monday.
STR/AFP/Getty Images

Mexico continued to contend with flooding and landslides late Monday after two powerful storms that left more than 40 people dead and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands finally began to wane.

Tropical Depression Ingrid, which was at one point a Category 1 hurricane, battered Mexico's northern Gulf Coast, while the remnants of Tropical Storm Manuel, which dissipated into an unorganized rain system, lashed the Pacific coast, inundating the popular beach resort of Acapulco, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Before the storms weakened, they had already unleashed torrential rains that killed nearly three dozen people in the states of Veracruz, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Puebla and Hidalgo, said Luis Felipe Puente, national emergency services coordinator.

Getting hit by a tropical storm and a hurricane at the same time "is completely atypical" for Mexico, Juan Manuel Caballero, coordinator of the country's National Weather Service, said at a news conference with Puente.

In fact, the Mexican government said the country had not seen a similar weather crisis since 1958, when it was simultaneously hit by two tropical storms on separate coasts.

Landslides buried homes and a bus in the eastern state of Veracruz, while thousands were evacuated from flooded areas, some by helicopter, and taken to shelters.

Residents waded neck deep in brown muddy waters, while some traveled down flooded streets in small boats and on jet skis. Waters churned through streets, converting them into dangerous rapids that swept away cars.

State energy company Pemex said it had evacuated three oil platforms and halted drilling at some wells on land due to the storms, but said output had not been affected.

"The storms have affected two-thirds of the entire national territory," the country's interior minister, Miguel Osorio Chong, said at a news conference in Mexico City.

Chong called the flooding "historic" and said the city of Acapulco had sustained major damage. Acapulco's international airport was closed temporarily due to power failure, as was a major highway, in the wake of Manuel. Acapulco Mayor Luis Walton told reporters that 40,000 tourists were stranded in the city.

In Veracruz state, along Mexico's Gulf coast, 12 people died on Monday after their bus was buried by a mountain landslide near the town of Xaltepec, Gov. Javier Duarte told reporters. He said the death toll could grow as search efforts continue.

The heaviest blow Sunday fell on the southern coastal state of Guerrero, where Mexico's government reported 14 confirmed deaths. State officials said people had been killed in landslides, drownings in a swollen river and a truck crash on a rain-slickened mountain highway.

Puente told reporters late Sunday that stormy weather from one or both of the systems also caused three deaths in Hidalgo, three in Puebla and one in Oaxaca.

In Guerrero state, as many as 15 people died in landslides and as buildings collapsed after sustained weekend rainfall.

Al Jazeera and wire services          

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