Saturday, June 23, 2018

Death toll rises to 41 in pair of tropical storms in Mexico

Two powerful storms gripped Mexico on Monday, dumping torrential rains on both coasts, forcing roads and airports to close and killing at least 41 people.

Interior Minister Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong said two-thirds of Mexican territory and more than 1.2 million people were affected by the storms.

President Enrique Peña Nieto interrupted Independence Day ceremonies Monday, called an emergency Cabinet meeting and then rushed to Acapulco, the Pacific coast tourist city in one of the hardest-hits states, Guerrero. Tens of thousands of people across several states were forced to flee their homes.

What had been Hurricane Ingrid continued to swirl off Mexico's gulf coast including Veracruz state, weakening slightly to tropical storm level, while Tropical Storm Manuel dumped torrential rains on the Pacific coast.

Victims drowned, were swept away in rivers or crushed by landslides. The Highway of the Sun from Mexico City to Acapulco was forced to close, as was the resort city's airport, stranding travelers on a holiday weekend.

The last time Mexico saw two storms simultaneously was in 1958, Mexican media reported.

The government declared an emergency over the weekend, and officials said Monday that the measure, which provides for rescues, sheltering and other steps, would continue until further notice because rain was not expected to let up soon.

"It is necessary for all personnel to remain alert and help the population to avoid risking more lives," national Social Development Minister Rosario Robles said.

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