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Hurricane causes 27 deaths, severe damage in Mexico

ACAPULCO (AFP) – Hurricane Otis caused at least 27 deaths and major damage as it lashed Mexico’s resort city of Acapulco as a scale-topping category 5 storm, officials said on Thursday.

Otis crashed into Acapulco with furious winds of 270 kilometres per hour, shattering windows, uprooting trees and largely cutting off communications and road links with the region.

The storm partially destroyed many buildings, leaving gaping holes in the walls of high-rise towers.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador arrived at the scene on Wednesday, after his convoy found roads blocked by landslides and other debris, forcing officials to walk part of the way.

Some residents slogged for hours through mud and debris in an attempt to find food and shelter.

“Acapulco is a total disaster. It is not what it was before,” said 24-year-old Eric Hernandez.

The damage caused after the passage of Hurricane Otis in Acapulco, Guerrero State, Mexico. PHOTO: AFP

“The shops had all been looted, people were fighting for things. So we decided to walk as there wasn’t anything left there,” he said.

Others said an overflowing river and collapsed bridges had cut off communities near Acapulco, home to about 780,000 people.

“People were left homeless, there’s no electricity,” said Israel Perez, a 21-year-old baker.

Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodriguez told a news conference on Thursday that 27 people were dead and four were missing.

Three of those unaccounted for were soldiers, Lopez Obrador said after returning to Mexico City.

He described the storm as “disastrous” and said that it was only thanks to the actions of people who sought shelter that there were not more deaths.

Most of the victims were swept away by overflowing rivers, according to authorities.

The government would begin an airlift to deliver aid and materials to the region, Lopez Obrador said. Telephone communications began to resume while the main highway from Mexico City to Acapulco was re-opened.