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At least 27 people died as Hurricane Otis hit Acapulco, one of the most potent storms to ever land in Mexico, unleashed its fury on Acapulco’s picturesque Pacific beach haven.
Hurricane Otis hit Acapulco, roaring with winds reaching a staggering 270 kilometers per hour (165 miles per hour), brutally tore roofs from homes, decimated hotels, uprooted trees, and severed communications and road connections within the region. Hospitals grappled with flooding that transformed the streets into waterways, leaving cars submerged in the wake of destruction across the city, home to nearly 900,000 residents.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, at a press conference in Mexico City, stated, “What Acapulco suffered was disastrous.” Many of the fatalities occurred as surging rivers swept away individuals. Authorities continue their search for four missing persons. The government has declared a state of emergency in the region.
In hours, Hurricane Otis catapulted from a tropical storm to the most formidable category on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, catching authorities off-guard. President Lopez Obrador remarked, “It’s unprecedented in the country in recent times, not only because of how it strengthened so quickly but also the magnitude of the hurricane.”
The World Meteorological Organization dubbed the hurricane “one of the most rapidly intensifying tropical cyclones on record.”
People in Acapulco shared harrowing accounts of their ordeals as Hurricane Otis hit Acapulco and made landfall in the early hours of Wednesday. Citlali Portillo, a tourist accommodation manager, said, “The building shook as if there was an earthquake,” as she took shelter in a bathtub. Erik Lozoya, a professional magician, described the experience as “three hours of terror” as the hurricane shattered windows and wreaked havoc inside the hotel where he, his wife, and two young daughters sought refuge.
As Acapulco residents grappled with the aftermath, some searched for sustenance and shelter through mud and debris. Eric Hernandez, a 24-year-old resident, lamented, “Acapulco is a total disaster. It is not what it was before. The shops had all been looted; people were fighting for things.”
President Lopez Obrador embarked on a treacherous journey to Acapulco, battling landslides and floods caused by the storm, changing vehicles multiple times along the way. The government later reported that Acapulco’s international airport’s air traffic control tower was operational again. An air bridge to transport tourists to Mexico City was set to commence on Friday.
Mexican authorities have labeled Hurricane Otis the most powerful storm to strike Mexico’s Pacific coast. The country’s defense ministry disclosed that nearly 8,400 members of Mexico’s army, air force, and national guard had been dispatched to assist in the cleanup efforts.
Acapulco, a significant city in the southern state of Guerrero, faces a challenging path to recovery. The local economy heavily relies on tourism, and Hurricane Otis caused extensive damage to some of the city’s renowned coastal hotels. Guerrero Governor Evelyn Salgado referred to the storm as “totally devastating,” noting that 80 percent of the city’s hotels bore the brunt of the hurricane. Authorities are working diligently to restore electricity and reactivate drinking water pumps in the region.