Mexico storm death toll rises to 80

Mexico City, Sep 18 (EFE).- At least 80 people have died in Mexico in recent days due to the pair of tropical storms that simultaneously hit the country last weekend, according to a new casualty count released Wednesday by the government.

Most of the deaths - 48 - have been in the southern state of Guerrero, which was drenched with heavy rains that caused mudslides and flooding, according to Civil Protection chief Ricardo de la Cruz.

Of those fatalities in Guerrero, 18 died in the tourist mecca of Acapulco, which has been cut off by land from the rest of the country since the weekend although an air bridge has been established to slowly evacuate thousands of people - including many tourists - stranded there.

Mexico's armed forces "are working on a 'forced march' basis" to get to the people who have been trapped or left destitute by the effects of tropical storms Manuel and Ingrid, the government said Wednesday.

Manuel hit the country from the Pacific side and Ingrid from the Atlantic, the first time in half a century, according to the national weather service, that the country has been affected simultaneously by two tropical storms striking both coasts to deadly affect.

"There are people who cannot leave their homes ... Those are the people we have to help first," Social Development Secretary Rosario Robles told Televisa television from Acapulco, one of the cities most heavily affected by the storms.

The armed forces have deployed some 8,000 troops nationwide for emergency relief efforts, Defense Secretary Salvador Cienfuegos said.

In Guerrero state, Manuel caused landslides along highways and damaged tunnels, made rivers overflow and knocked down bridges, all of which has left a good part of the state incommunicado.

"Without a doubt, Guerrero is the most affected (state) so far," admitted Robles, who called attention to the "extraordinary situation" facing Mexico at present.

"We have 40,000 tourists ... stranded here in Acapulco. Many of them arrive by land transport and today we have to remove them by air. We have to attend to the people who are in their homes, at the same time that (we do so) for those in the shelters, and to patrol the city to prevent problematic situations," she said.

"We have 10 helicopters working, we've rescued more than 1,000 people, we have them in shelters, we're in an emergency situation, not only in Acapulco, but in the entire state," Robles added, going on to announce that on Wednesday a ship will arrive from the port of Manzanillo with food for Acapulco.