MEXICO CITY (AP) – The Mexican navy said on Tuesday that four more boats have been located on the bottom of Acapulco bay, bringing to 33 the number of vessels that apparently sank when Hurricane Otis slammed into the resort city last week.
The boats are believed to have been one of the key sources of hurricane deaths, because many crews are missing and apparently stayed aboard their craft when the Category 5 storm hit.
So far, 47 people have been confirmed killed, including three foreign residents.
Navy Secretary José Rafael Ojeda said a ship with a crane has arrived. and that search teams hope to start lifting the boats to the surface soon to check for victims.
“We have located 33 vessels, and we are going to start trying to lift them,” Ojeda said.
However, with just one crane working, lifting the boats to the surface could take weeks, raising the prospect of a long, agonising wait for relatives.
On Monday, relatives demonstrated on Acapulco’s mud-clogged main boulevard to demand authorities speed up the search, holding up hand-lettered signs saying “I’m looking for my husband.”
Abigail Andrade Rodríguez was one of four crew members aboard the rental boat Litos, a 29-metre, twin-motor yacht based in Puerto Marques, just south of Acapulco’s main bay, on the night the hurricane hit.
“None of them has been found,” said her aunt Susy Andrade.
“She spoke with her family (on Tuesday) and she said the sea was very choppy, and that they were going to leave Puerto Marques and head for the (Acapulco) marina to see if they would be safer there,” Andrade said. “It appears they didn’t arrive.”
Around midnight, the yacht appears to have sent out an SOS after being blown or fleeing across the main bay. There was no official word that the Litos was among the 29 boats confirmed sunk.
“Things don’t look good,” Andrade said, “but we want to find her”.