According to the governor of Guerrero state, the number of fatalities has increased to 43 following a destructive hurricane that struck the Mexican tourist destination of Acapulco last week.
Evelyn Salgado reported that power has been reinstated to 58% of Acapulco and that government officials conducted a census of 10,000 households in Acapulco and nearby Coyuca de Benitez to assess the extent of damages.
Salgado remarked that they had been busy with continuous work in recent days, mentioning that they were focused on 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 not yet provided significant details on the deceased and wounded. Plundering has persisted and inhabitants in heavily affected areas, struggling to obtain sustenance and water, have criticized the government for inadequate assistance.
The President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, alleged that his critics were amplifying the severity of the calamity.
On Saturday, López Obrador shared a 24-minute video on social media to provide an update on the country’s current state. In the video, he spent a significant amount of time criticizing his opponents, accusing them of attempting to take advantage of the situation for their own gain in the upcoming presidential election.
“He expressed that they are hovering like vultures, showing no concern for the suffering of others. Their intentions are to cause harm and inflict numerous casualties,” he stated.
López Obrador, 69, said media outlets seeking to smear his government had exaggerated the death toll, and that the security minister, Rosa Icela Rodríguez, would provide an update on casualties “without lying”.
He stated that she should inform us of the exact number of individuals who have passed away thus far. He also mentioned that his administration is taking more action than any previous government to manage the aftermath.
According to Rodríguez, it is suspected that the victims died by drowning due to the powerful category 5 storm. As of now, there are 10 individuals who have not been located.
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 officials have shared worries in private that the fatality count may increase. In a previous statement, the administration had stated that the number of deaths included 29 males and 10 females, referencing data from Guerrero.
Officials reported that over 220,000 households and 80% of the hotel industry were impacted, resulting in more than 513,000 individuals experiencing power outages.
Residents of the Renacimiento neighborhood trudged through streets submerged in muddy brown water up to their ankles, bemoaning the absence of assistance.
Apolonio Maldonado expressed frustration, stating that the government has not provided any assistance or even a sense of hope. He lifted his feet from the water to reveal severe cuts on his shins and mentioned the lack of food, mattresses, and cots.
Martha Villanueva sobbed as she spoke, covering her mouth with her hand. “We need assistance,” she said. “We lost everything to the flood.”
The price of destruction caused by the hurricane has been calculated to be in the billions of dollars, and over 8,000 military personnel were deployed to aid in the recovery of the affected port.
The Mexican government reported that Otis was the strongest hurricane to hit the Pacific coast of the country. It took meteorologists by surprise as it rapidly intensified and exceeded initial forecasts before hitting land.