Mexico City, Oct 26 (EFE).- The Mexican government reported Thursday at least 27 dead and four missing as a result of Hurricane Otis, which made landfall in the state of Guerrero on Wednesday as a Category 5 storm, making it one of the strongest cyclones in the history of the Pacific.
“Unfortunately, according to the report of the state government and the municipal government (of Acapulco), there are 27 dead and 4 missing,” said the Secretary of Security and Citizen Protection, Rosa Icela Rodriguez, during the daily press conference of the government.
This is the first report of casualties after the area affected by the hurricane, the southern coast of Guerrero, was cut off for almost 24 hours after Otis made landfall.
Hurricane Otis broke the record for intensification of such a phenomenon in Mexico, growing from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane in less than 12 hours, Rodríguez also said during the briefing.
“We will take care of everything related to the damage left by Hurricane Otis in Acapulco,” said President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
Communications in the area are still not fully restored and 60% of the more than half a million people left without power remain without electricity, according to the Federal Electricity Commission.
First damage assessment
Among the damages reported so far, the Secretary of Security announced six road closures, including the road that connects Acapulco to the capital of Guerrero, Chilpancingo, and the highway from Mexico City to Acapulco, one of the busiest in the country.
The Ministry of Infrastructure, Communications and Transportation deployed 900 workers, 60 vehicles and more than 200 pieces of heavy machinery.
The Regional General Hospital 1 in Acapulco sustained damages and 200 patients had to be transferred to other hospitals.
While 80 percent of the hotels on the coast of Acapulco, one of Mexico’s top tourist destinations, were damaged, the governor of Guerrero, Evelyn Salgado, said by telephone.
“It was totally devastating for our port,” she said.
The president announced the deployment of 10,000 members of the armed forces and 1,000 civil servants to assess the damage.
“We are going to help with a program of housing construction and improvement for all those affected, this is the information we want to convey, as well as for small businesses that have their palapas (informal businesses on the beach),” López Obrador promised.
Record in rapid intensification
The Secretary of Security and Citizen Protection said that in less than 12 hours, Hurricane Otis went from a tropical storm with winds of 64 kilometers per hour to a category 5, the maximum on the Saffir-Simpson scale, with winds of 270 kilometers per hour.
“What happened on Tuesday, October 24, was atypical and an unlikely scenario. It broke the historical record of intensification in Mexico, which was 24 hours with Hurricane Patricia in 2015,” the secretary added, citing data from the National Center for Disaster Prevention.
“The international forecasting models did not foresee at the beginning that the hurricane would develop as it did, much less that it would affect the port of Acapulco,” said the secretary.EFE