The governor of Guerrero state has announced that the number of fatalities from a destructive hurricane that struck Acapulco, a popular Mexican beach destination, last week has reached 43.
Evelyn Salgado reported that 58% of Acapulco now has electricity and that authorities have conducted a census of 10,000 households in the area, including the nearby city of Coyuca de Benitez, to assess the extent of the damages.
“These past few days have been filled with intense and continuous work,” Salgado stated, acknowledging that authorities were diligently distributing aid.
Hurricane Otis pounded Acapulco, in the southern state of Guerrero, with winds of 165mph (266 km/h) on Wednesday, flooding the city, tearing roofs from homes, stores and hotels, submerging vehicles and severing communications as well as road and air connections.
The government has provided limited updates on the fatalities and casualties. Despite ongoing looting, residents in severely affected areas are facing difficulties in obtaining basic necessities such as food and water, and have expressed dissatisfaction with the government’s aid efforts.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the president of Mexico, alleged that his adversaries were overemphasizing the magnitude of the catastrophe.
On Saturday, López Obrador shared a 24-minute video on social media to provide an update on the country’s current state. A significant portion of the video was focused on criticizing those who he believes are taking advantage of the situation for their own gain before the upcoming presidential election next year.
“He likened them to vultures, showing no concern for the suffering of others. Their intent is to inflict harm and cause numerous fatalities,” he stated.
69-year-old Mexican President López Obrador stated that media sources attempting to discredit his administration had inflated the number of deaths. He also mentioned that Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodríguez would give an accurate update on casualties.
“He requested that she disclose the true number of lives lost thus far,” he stated, emphasizing that his administration was taking more action than any previous government in addressing the aftermath.
According to Rodríguez, the individuals who perished were presumed to have drowned due to the severity of the category 5 hurricane. Additionally, there are currently 10 individuals whose whereabouts are unknown.
On Saturday afternoon, rescue teams onboard two inflatable red boats searched the Acapulco bay for casualties. They returned to shore with three bodies wrapped in black bags. Investigators briefly unzipped the bags to photograph the victims.
Certain government officials have expressed worry in private that the amount of fatalities may increase. In a previous statement, the government had reported that the death count consisted of 29 males and 10 females, based on statistics from Guerrero.
Officials reported that over 220,000 households and 80% of the hotel industry were impacted, resulting in over 513,000 individuals losing access to electricity.
In the Renacimiento area, residents trudged through streets filled with muddy brown water up to their ankles, and expressed frustration over the lack of assistance.
Apolonio Maldonado expressed frustration with the lack of assistance and support from the government. He lifted his feet out of the water to reveal severe cuts on his shins and stated that the government has not provided any food, mattresses, or cots.
Martha Villanueva’s voice was choked with tears as she pleaded, “We need assistance. The flood took everything from us.”
The damage caused by the hurricane is estimated to be worth billions of dollars. Over 8,000 military personnel were deployed to aid in the recovery of the affected port.
Officials in Mexico reported that Otis was the strongest hurricane to hit the Pacific coast of the country. The storm was able to rapidly intensify before reaching land, which was unexpected and surpassed initial forecasts.