Mexico storms: Exhausted tourists jostle for flights out of Acapulco

 

Thousands of exhausted tourists lined up late into the night on a muddy road outside a military base for a chance to get home on one of two precious air bridges out of the famed beach resort Acapulco, isolated by landslides set off by Tropical Storm Manuel.

With the twin roads to Mexico City closed down, at least 40,000 tourists saw a long holiday beach weekend degenerate into a desperate struggle to get weeping children, elderly parents and even a few damp, bedraggled dogs back home.

Two of Mexico's largest airlines were running about two flights an hour from Acapulco's still-flooded international airport yesterday, with priority for those with tickets, the elderly and families with young children.

Everyone else who could not wait for the government's promise to reopen the roads within two days flocked to Air Base 7 about 20 minutes north of Acapulco, where a military air bridge made up of barely more than a dozen aircraft ferried tourists to Mexico City.

The normally quiet beach-front installation was transformed into a scene from a conflict zone.

Families in shorts and sandals waited for as long as eight hours outside the gates of the base, held at bay by rifle-toting soldiers until they were allowed to drag suitcases, pet carriers and red-eyed children across the tarmac, where they jostled furiously for a chance at one of the 150 seats on the next departing Air Force Boeing 727.

Military officials said only two of the passenger planes were in service, although a few hundred people got seats on one of the five helicopters or seven cargo planes also pressed into air bridge duty.

Many told of horror stories of spending the weekend trapped by torrential rains inside their hotels, emerging to discover there was no way back home.

"It's probably one of the worst holidays I've ever been on," said David Jefferson Gled, a 28-year-old from Bristol, England who teaches English at a private school in Mexico City. "It wasn't really a holiday, more of an incarceration."

By sunset last night, 24 hours after most holiday makers were supposed to be back, less than 700 people had been flown out to Mexico City. Many times that number waited miserably on the runway or, worse, with thousands of other sweating, blank-eyed people in a roughly quarter-mile-long queue outside the base.

A handful of stores were looted yesterday and cash machines along Acapulco's coastal boulevard were low on money but most of the city's tourist zone otherwise appeared back to normal, with roads clear, restaurants and hotel open and brightly light and tourists strolling along the bay in an attempt to recover some of the leisure time lost to three days of incessant rains.

Gavin McLoughlin, 27, another teacher at Mexico City's Greengates School, said he went to Acapulco on a late night bus on Thursday with about 30 other teachers at the school, many of whom are in their 20s.

"We had no idea of the weather," the Englishman said. "We knew there was a hurricane on the other side but not this side."

Officials said it had been more than 50 years since Mexico was hit by two tropical storm-strength weather systems and the death toll rose to 47 yesterday from the unusual one-two punch of Manuel and Ingrid, which briefly became a hurricane as it pounded the Gulf Coast.

Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said that 27 people had died because of Manuel in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero, where Acapulco is located.

He said 20 more people died nationwide, many as a result of Ingrid, which struck the Gulf coast on Monday. Mexican meteorologists said it was the first time since 1958 that two tropical storms or hurricanes had hit both the country's coasts within 24 hours.

Federal officials said it could take at least another two days to open the main highway to Acapulco, which was hit by more than 13 landslides from surrounding hills, and to bring food and relief supplies into the city of more than 800,000 people.

City officials said about 23,000 homes, mostly on Acapulco's outskirts, were without electricity and water. Stores were nearly emptied by residents who rushed to stock up on basic goods. Landslides and flooding damaged an unknown number of homes.

AP

News
In 2006, Pluto was reclassified as a 'dwarf planet'
scienceBut will it be reinstated?
News
Jennifer Lawrence at the Vanity Fair Academy Awards party in February 2014
people12 undisclosed female victims are seeking $100m in damages
Voices
4 May 2013: The sun rises over Tower Bridge in London. Temperatures across the UK could be higher than several European holiday destinations by Monday, including parts of Italy and France (Andy Hepburn/PA)
voices
News
people Biographer says cinema’s enduring sex symbol led a secret troubled life
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
voicesI like surprises - that's why I'm bringing them back to politics, writes Nigel Farage
Arts and Entertainment
Adam Levine plays a butcher who obsessively stalks a woman in Maroon 5's 'Animals' music video
music'Animals' video 'promotes sexual violence against women'
News
Bear and hare woodland scene from John Lewis Christmas advert
newsRetailer breaks with tradition, selling real festive fir trees online for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Anthony Horowitz will write the next 007 novel
booksAnthony Horowitz to write new instalment in spy series for 2015
News
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
people
Sport
Kicking on: Nathaniel Clyne is relishing the challenge of the Premier League after moving from Crystal Palace
footballSurprises include a first ever call-up for one Southampton star
News
news
Voices
Anthony stopped due to the lack of step free access at Mansion House
voices
Travel
Blue Ghost Fireflies in Brevard, North Carolina. Blue Ghost fireflies are unique because they stay lit and only hover about a foot off the ground.
Photo Location: Brevard, North Carolina
travelGallery: The winner of National Geographic's photo contest receives $10,000
News
The moon observed in visible light, topography and the GRAIL gravity gradients
science

...and it wasn't caused by an asteroid crash, as first thought

News
Researchers say a diet of fatty foods could impede smell abilities
scienceMeasuring the sense may predict a person's lifespan
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

HR Advisor - East Anglia - Field-based

£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: To be considered for this position you will n...

General Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: We have opportunities for Cov...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Maths Teacher required to tea...

Digital Fundraising Analyst/Web Analyst - West Sussex - Permanent - £30k DOE

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?