Hurricane Otis leaves almost 100 dead or missing in Mexico

Otis was the strongest ever storm to make landfall on Mexico’s west coast

Martha McHardy
Tuesday 31 October 2023 17:02 GMT
Acapulco left decimated after Hurricane Otis

Almost 100 people are dead or missing after Hurricane Otis tore through the city of Acapulco in Mexico last week, officials have said.

Evelyn Cecilia Salgado, the governor of Guerrero state, where Acapulco is located, said the death toll had risen from 27 to 45, while the number of people missing after the Category 5 hurricane has risen from four to 47.

She said 16 of the bodies recovered have been returned to their families, while three of the dead are foreign residents from the US, Canada and the UK. All had been living in Acapulco for some time and were not considered tourists, local officials said.

Otis was 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, taking forecasters by surprise and leaving the city little time to prepare.

The hurricane made landfall shortly after midnight last Wednesday in Acapulco with 165mph winds and torrential rain decimating the city.

Some 80 per cent of the city’s hotels were destroyed, and not a single power line was left standing, leaving residents without electricity, cell phone service, or running water.

There were also reports of widespread looting in the city after residents were left without basic resources like food and toilet paper.

The federal civil defence agency tallied 220,000 homes that were damaged by the hurricane, which blew out the windows and walls of some high-rise hotels and ripped the tin roofs off thousands of homes.

The hurricane also caused at least 33 boats to sink to the bottom of Acapulco bay, officials said.

Almost 100 people are dead or missing after Hurricane Otis

The boats are believed to have been one of the key sources of hurricane deaths after many crews stayed aboard their craft when the storm hit.

Meanwhile, a 4.4-magnitude earthquake was detected in the resort city of Zihuatanejo – just 120 miles north of Acapulco – hours after Otis made landfall.

Efforts have begun in the massive clean-up in Acapulco, home to around one million people, where an early estimate put damages at $10bn.

Power has still not been fully restored to the city, almost a week after the hurricane hit, with many residents expressing frustration at the slow speed of the government’s response.

Downed electrical poles and lines blown over by Hurricane Otis blanket a road in Acapulco

At a press conference last week, Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador admitted that the government response had been hampered by the hurricane’s impacts during his visit to Acapulco.

But on Tuesday, he insisted that power would be restored to the city “very soon”.

“They will not lack work and food, water, the basics,” he said. “Very soon, we are going to restore the electrical service,” he added.

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