Published September 19, 2013
An estimated 40,000 to 60,000 tourists are stranded amid floodwaters in the Mexican resort city of Acapulco after devastating storms pounded the country over the weekend, while a newly-formed hurricane is expected to dump more rain on Los Cabos, another popular travel destination.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Manuel,a storm with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, made landfall Thursday in northern Mexico.
As of Thursday morning, the storm was centered about 95 miles southeast of Los Mochis in Sinaloa state. Rescue workers are preparing to evacuate people from flood-prone areas of Los Cabos, which had rainfall on Wednesday.
The U.S. National Weather Center says Manuel will likely hit Baja California Sur -- where Los Cabos is located -- in the next few days.
Acapulco is among many Mexican cities and towns inundated with floodwaters over the weekend in a one-two punch after Manuel – then a tropical storm – and Hurricane Ingrid both hit Mexico.
The storms have left at least 80 dead and 35,000 homes damaged throughout the country, according to federal officials.
The flooding has been so severe it has brought crocodiles onto the streets of some Mexican cities. Acapulco authorities also reported a wave of looting after the storms.
In Acapulco's upscale Diamond Zone, the military commandeered a commercial center for tourists trying to get onto one of the military or commercial flights that remained the only way out of the city. Thousands lined up outside the mall's locked gates, begging for a seat on a military plane or demanding that the Aeromexico airline honor a previously purchased ticket.
Mexican officials said that at least 10,000 people had been flown out of Acapulco on 88 flights by Wednesday evening, just a fraction of the number of tourists estimated stranded in the city.
"It's horrible," Lizbeth Sasia, a 25-year-old teacher from Cuernavaca, told the Associated Press. "They keep telling us we'll be on the next flight, but the next flight never comes."
David Jefferson Gled, a 28-year-old from Bristol, England, who teaches English at a private school in Mexico City, described it as an “incarceration.”
Adding insult to injury, a few immaculately dressed families skipped the lines and were escorted to private jets by soldiers, to the incredulous stares of the sweltering masses.
"We're cooking here, burnt. We're tired, desperate," said Irma Antonio Martinez, a 43-year-old housewife from suburban Mexico City who came to celebrate the three-day Independence Day weekend with 12 relatives. "We just want to get home to our poor house. Our families are waiting for us."
Acapulco has also been hit hard by looting after the storms and the country’s marines have been called in to keep watch and prevent further crimes.
"Unfortunately, it wasn't looting from need of food. It was stealing for stealing's sake," Mariberta Medina, head of a local hotel management association, told Reuters. "They even stole Halloween and Christmas decorations and an outboard motor."
Outside of Acapulco, Mexico's government said Thursday that 58 people also were missing after a massive landslide smashed through the tiny coffee-growing village of La Pintada deep in the country's southern mountains. Fresh waves of rain there threatened to unleash more danger for rescue workers trying to evacuate the last residents from the isolated village.
"It's very likely that these 58 missing people lost their lives," Angel Aguirre, governor of storm-battered Guerrero state, told reporters.
Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said there was a risk of more landslides for the federal police who had stayed in the village overnight and hoped to leave with the last 45 residents on helicopters early Thursday morning.
Osorio Chong said 334 people have already been evacuated from the village by helicopter, with one person seriously injured.
He said the landslide went right through the middle of the village of some 600 people, accessible in normal conditions by winding mountain roads now broken multiple times by landslides and flooding.
Tons of dirt and rocks smashed through the center of La Pintada Monday night, burying a church and an untold number of two-story homes.
Crocodiles have been spotted in some Mexico cities amid the floodwaters.
The reptiles swam into the Gulf port city of Tampico after the Panuco River overflowed over the weekend, Reuters reports.
"They don't bother the people," a Tamaulipas state government spokesman said.
In Acapulco, a video has surfaced showing a crocodile thrashing around in city floodwaters, Sky News reports.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.