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Mudslide buries village, new hurricane nears Mexico

A resurgent hurricane neared Mexico's northwest coast on Wednesday after twin storms killed at least 80 people nationwide and buried part of a village under a mudslide, leaving dozens more missing.

world Updated: Sep 19, 2013 09:02 IST

A resurgent hurricane neared Mexico's northwest coast on Wednesday after twin storms killed at least 80 people nationwide and buried part of a village under a mudslide, leaving dozens more missing.

President Enrique Pena Nieto said 58 people were missing after a "major landslide" collapsed on La Pintada, a village of 400 people in the mountains of southwestern Guerrero state.

"We are not sure for the moment how many people are trapped under the mud," Pena Nieto said.

Ediberto Tabarez, the mayor of Atoyac de Alvarez, a municipality that oversees La Pintada, told AFP in a phone interview that at least 15 bodies have been pulled out of the rubble.

Tabarez said the situation was "very critical" after more than 20 homes were crushed in the remote village, located west of the Pacific resort of Acapulco.

Pena Nieto said more than 280 villagers were evacuated and 91 would be rescued later.

Authorities said the death toll had risen to 80 across the country after a pair of tropical storms, Ingrid and Manuel, triggered landslides and floods over large swaths of Mexico this week.

As the tragedy worsened, Manuel regenerated into a category one hurricane as it closed in on the state of Sinaloa, packing top winds of 75 miles (115 kilometers) per hour and threatening to spark flash floods and mudslides, the US National Hurricane Center said.

A tropical cyclone may also form on the east coast.

The new threat came after Ingrid, which was a hurricane before hitting the northeast on Monday, and Manuel became the first tropical storms to make landfall almost simultaneously in half a century.

The storms have affected some 2,20,000 people across the country, damaging scores of bridges and homes.

The two highways linking Acapulco to Mexico City were covered by landslides while the resort's airport was flooded, stranding tens of thousands of tourists who lined up for precious seats on emergency airlifts.

Authorities said they hoped to re-open the land link between the Pacific resort and the capital on Friday, allowing people to leave the former favorite haunt of Hollywood stars which is now been plagued by gang violence.

The disaster sparked panic buying at supermarkets while thousands of residents looted flooded stores, wading through water with televisions, food and even fridges.

"Unfortunately, there is desperation, but more army and navy troops have arrived," Mayor Luis Walton told MVS radio. "We ask people to remain calm."

The skies finally cleared in Acapulco after almost one week of nonstop rain, but the heat brought misery to thousands of holidaymakers standing in massive lines to board military aircraft.

People shouted and shoved each other as some cut the line at an air force base while soldiers handed out water to parched tourists.

Their anger rose as a separate, shorter and quicker line formed for wealthier visitors who booked flights on private jets.

"I ask the government that, since we all pay taxes, we all be treated the same way because the rich and the poor are equal in this tragedy," said Leonor Carretto, 45.

"They should demonstrate we're all equal by letting the little kings bake under the sun for just one hour," added Carretto, whose five-year-old daughter was running a fever after waiting for hours in line.

The civilian airport's terminal was flooded in knee-high dark water, but commercial carriers began special flights on Tuesday despite the lack of functioning radar.

"The experience has been a little bit scary because we haven't able to get out," said Tarun Mahrotri, a 34-year-old tourist from London queued up at the military air base.

More than 5,000 people have been flown out since Tuesday, officials said, with Mexican airlines Aeromexico and Interjet offering free flights for people without prior reservations.

Transport minister Gerardo Ruiz Esparza said a total of 15,000 people will have been flown out by Thursday.

First Published: Sep 19, 2013 08:50 IST