Connect to share and comment
Mexico looked Saturday to the herculean task of rebuilding after rare storms struck from east and west at the same time, killing 101 people and destroying homes, schools and roads.
Officials also started tallying the economic damage in a country where the growth forecast was already lowered drastically in August.
A police helicopter missing since Thursday was found to have crashed, with no survivors, a government source said without giving the death toll. Press reports said the aircraft was carrying just its crew of three.
President Enrique Perez Nieto cancelled plans to travel to New York for the UN General Assembly next week and will instead stay in the disaster area to help coordinate relief efforts over the weekend.
Some 200,000 people were left homeless and nearly 60,000 were evacuated, said Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong.
Road repairs alone because of the flooding and landslides in the wake of the storms, Manuel on the west coast and Ingrid from the east, will cost about $3 billion (2.2 billion euros), the transport ministry said.
Since September 14 the country has been hammered by the tropical storms, which damaged tens of thousands of homes, flooded cities and washed out roads.
Mexico had not been hit simultaneously by two powerful storms like this since 1958, the National Weather Service said.
As of late Friday the death toll stood at 101, with 68 people missing following a mudslide that swallowed half of the village of La Pintada in Guerrero state, Osorio Chong said.
Guerrero was the hardest hit, with at least 65 deaths and its Pacific resort of Acapulco left isolated after the two roads to Mexico City were covered by landslides on September 15. Tourists were stranded for five days.
Thousands finally packed into cars and buses on Friday after authorities reopened road links to the capital.
As of Friday night, around 62,000 tourists had managed to leave the city, about half by road and half in special airlift planes.
The airport -- where the terminal flooded last Saturday -- should be practically back to normal on Sunday, Communications and Transport Minister Gerardo Ruiz Esparza said.
The police rescue helicopter that went missing and was found Saturday had been delivering relief material and trying to help evacuate people from La Pintada.
Osorio Chong told radio station Formula that the damage from the storms was "beyond calculation."
In Guerrero, one of Mexico's poorest states, it will be particularly hard to tally the toll because the terrain is mountainous with many small villages that are hard to reach, he said.
Early official estimates are that nationwide the storms damaged 1.5 million homes in 22 of Mexico's 32 states, along with 72 roads or highways.
In Guerrero alone the preliminary damage estimate is $380 million, said state governor Angel Aguirre.
Half the city of Acapulco was flooded, while rising waters brought out crocodiles. Looters ransacked stores.
People continued to work with shovels and pickaxes in La Pintada, the coffee-growing village west of Acapulco that was swamped by a massive mudslide.
Officially, two people were killed -- their bodies were pulled out of the debris -- and 68 are missing. Villagers fear that scores have perished.
"I think there's a lot of dead. A lot of my relatives died. They're buried and we can't do anything," said farmer Diego Zeron.
The mud collapsed on the village of 400 people during independence day celebrations last Monday, swallowing homes, a school and church before crashing into the river.
Soldiers and civil protection workers, many wearing surgical masks, removed pieces of broken homes and chopped up fallen trees with machetes.