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Hurricane Otis – latest: Fears grow for people still missing in Acapulco after storm killed 27

Four people are missing after the strongest ever storm to make landfall on Mexico’s west coast

Martha McHardy,Louise Boyle,Stuti Mishra
Saturday 28 October 2023 14:58 BST
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Acapulco left decimated after Hurricane Otis

Fears are growing for the four people missing in Acapulco after a “nightmare” Category-5 hurricane ripped through the city.

At least 27 people are dead and four people are missing after Hurricane Otis brought 165mph winds and torrential rainfall to Acapulco on Wednesday.

Flora Contreras Santos, a housewife who lives on the outskirts of the city, told of her fear after her three-year-old neighbor was swept away from her mother in a mudslide.

“The mountain came down on them. The mud took her from the mother’s arms,” she told the Associated Press. “We need help, the mother is in bad shape and we can’t find the girl.”

Meanwhile, Guerrero Governor Evelyn Salgado Pineda announced the establishment of a WhatsApp line to help people contact their families after communications went down in Acapulco on Wednesday.

Otis is the strongest ever storm to make landfall on Mexico’s west coast. The hurricane underwent explosive intensification from a Category 1 to Category 5 in just 12 hours, catching forecasters by surprise. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) described it as a “nightmare scenario” for the region.

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Otis now a tropical storm

The Category 5 hurricane that lashed through parts of Mexico’s Pacific coast was downgraded to a tropical storm, just hours after it made landfall.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said maximum wind speeds were around 60 mph on Wednesday afternoon.

It was located around 130 miles North / North-West of Acapulco.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Punta Maldonado and Acapulco.

“A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area,” the NHC wrote.

Ariana Baio25 October 2023 22:00
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Earthquake detected in resort city hours after Otis

A 4.4-magnitude earthquake was detected in the resort city of Zihuatanejo – just 120 miles north of Acapulco – hours after Otis caused massive destruction to the southern part of Mexico’s Pacific coast.

A preliminary evaluation of the area was conducted by state and municipal personnel in the area, the Mexican civil protection coordination agency said.

Residents were not warned of the earthquake because the seismic system used to warn people was unable to operate.

SkyAlerts – the early earthquake-warning service, said damage left behind from Otis had left their infrastructure “temporarily inoperative”.

Ariana Baio25 October 2023 22:30
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Acapulco cut off by Cat-5 Hurricane Otis which caught forecasters by surprise

A “nightmare scenario” struck shortly after midnight in the coastal city of Acapulco on Wednesday.

Hurricane Otis roared ashore in southern Mexico, the strongest-ever storm to make landfall on the country’s west coast.

The hurricane underwent explosive intensification from a Category 1 to a Category 5 in just 12 hours in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, catching forecasters by surprise. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) described it as a “nightmare scenario” for the region.

The storm made landfall with 165mph winds and torrential rain of up to 15 inches in places.

Read more here:

Acapulco cut off by Cat-5 Hurricane Otis which caught forecasters by surprise

The hurricane underwent explosive intensification from a Category 1 to Category 5 in just 12 hours, catching forecasters by surprise

Louise Boyle 25 October 2023 23:00
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Satellite footage shows lightning strikes in eye of Hurricane Otis

Ariana Baio26 October 2023 00:15
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In Photos: Landslides threaten Acapulco area after storm

Workers clear a blocked highway after the passing of Hurricane Otis near Acapulco, Mexico, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023 (AP)
A man crosses a highway blocked by a landslide triggered by Hurricane Otis near Acapulco, Mexico, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023 (AP)
People get help crossing a highway blocked by a landslide triggered by Hurricane Otis near Acapulco, Mexico, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023 (AP)
Ariana Baio26 October 2023 01:00
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Otis took many forecasters by surprise

Hurricane Otis slammed into Mexico early on Wednesday as the strongest-ever storm to make landfall on the country’s west coast.

Otis went from a Category 1 to a Category 5 hurricane in only 12 hours — the fastest rate ever recorded in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

The National Hurricane Center considers a storm to rapidly intensify if it increases wind speed by 35mph (46kph) in 24 hours.

While it is still too early to say what impact the climate crisis had on this individual weather event, record-breaking ocean temperatures are fuelling stronger and more destructive cyclones in general.

Heat in the ocean supercharges hurricanes with more moisture and stronger winds. This heat is being caused by a fossil-fuel-driven climate crisis with El Nino, a cyclical weather pattern, layered on top.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says that the climate crisis’s impact on hurricane power is “like adding fuel to a fire”.

Sea level rise is compounding the danger. Since the late 19th century, global sea level has risen by eight inches – threatening coastal communities and increasing flooding risk when storms push water inland.

Rising sea levels can also wipe out natural coastal defences which act as buffers to hurricanes such as marshy wetlands and swamps.

Martha McHardy26 October 2023 02:00
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Footage of Acapulco shows aftermath of Otis

Ariana Baio26 October 2023 04:00
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Rescue efforts hampered by unaccessible roads

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that rescue efforts and repair convoys were being hampered by the lack of access. Roads were covered in debris and bridges had collapsed in places after Hurricane Otis.

Flights had been grounded and officials were struggling to access the area as the local military airport had also sustained damage.

The storm moved inland on Wednesday bringing powerful winds and heavy rains across the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca. Otis is expected to begin to dissipate when it slams into Mexico’s mountain range later tonight.

Louise Boyle26 October 2023 05:00
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In photos: Hurricane Otis flattens buildings and resort and unleashes massive flooding

A view shows street stalls damaged by Hurricane Otis near the entrance to Acapulco, in the Mexican state of Guerrero (REUTERS)
A view shows vehicles trapped by the landslide on parts of the route to Acapulco after Hurricane Otis hit, in the Mexican state of Guerrero (REUTERS)
A general view of the damaged beach resort following Hurricane Otis (via REUTERS)
A general view of a damaged PEMEX gas station on a road after Hurricane Otis hit, near Acapulco (REUTERS)
Stuti Mishra26 October 2023 06:08
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Acapulco still mostly inaccessible after havoc wreaked by Hurricane Otis

The town of Acapulco remained almost inaccessible by roads Wednesday night as officials continue to assess the damage from Hurricane Otis.

Little is known about possible deaths or the full extent of the damage as experts are calling Otis the strongest storm in history to make landfall along the Eastern Pacific Coast.

Many of the once sleek beachfront hotels looked like toothless shattered hulks, after Hurricane Otis blew out hundreds - and possibly thousands - of hotel windows.

Choked with mud and debris, with no electricity or internet service, the Pacific coast resorts descended into chaos after the storm, as thousands engaged in massive looting.

Diamond Zone, an oceanfront area replete with hotels, restaurants and other tourist attractions, looked to be mostly underwater in drone footage that Foro TV posted online on Wednesday afternoon, with boulevards and bridges completely hidden by an enormous lake of brown water.

Large buildings had their walls and roofs partially or completely ripped off.

Dislodged solar panels, cars and debris littered the lobby of one severely damaged hotel. People wandered up to their waists in water in some areas, while on other less-flooded streets soldiers shovelled rubble and fallen palm fronds from the pavement.

While much of the city was in the dark and without phone service, some people were able to use satellite phones loaned by the Red Cross to let family members know they were OK.

Stuti Mishra26 October 2023 06:42

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