CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (AFP) – Hurricane Odile destroyed homes and shut down airports in Mexico’s Baja California peninsula on Monday, sparking looting, marooning thousands of foreign tourists and injuring 135 people.
The powerful storm caused heavy material damage in Los Cabos resort towns and hotels were badly flooded. Nobody was killed.
Hundreds of looters ransacked supermarkets and electronic stores, snatching rice, water, toilet paper, alcohol, televisions, and fans after the passage of the hurricane, which later weakened as it moved north.
More than 1,000 troops were deployed to the disaster area, which was without electricity and running water. Scores of wood-plank and tin-roof homes were leveled in one neighbourhood.
“I’m taking water for the children and food for the baby. You never know what can happen tomorrow,” Osvaldo Lopez, 41, said as he left a convenience store.
Some 26,000 foreigners and 4,000 Mexican beachgoers were looking at a second night in hotels that served as temporary shelters.
Authorities scrambled to reopen the international airports in Los Cabos and La Paz in order to send military planes to airlift the tourists.
But National Civil Protection coordinator Luis Felipe Puente said the first planes would only leave Tuesday because of the damage caused by strong winds at the terminals.
“We don’t have optimal conditions to begin flights in the next few hours,” he told a news conference, adding that sick tourists and the elderly would be airlifted first.
The hurricane smashed hotel windows, flooded rooms and sent palm trees flying into swimming pools.
“I’m disappointed about my vacation, but above all my heart aches for the people from here who lost everything,” said Tifani Brown, a 34-year-old American tourist who had only arrived Sunday – the day the hurricane hit – from California.