Officials confirmed Thursday that Hurricane Otis, which hit Mexico’s vacation city of Acapulco as a category 5 hurricane, killed at least 27 people and inflicted significant damage.
Otis slammed on Acapulco with 165-mile-per-hour gusts, breaking windows, uprooting trees, and effectively cutting off communications and traffic ties to the region.
Many structures were partially demolished by the storm, leaving gaping gaps in the walls of high-rise towers.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador arrived late Wednesday after his convoy encountered roadblocks caused by landslides and other debris, forcing officials to walk a portion of the distance.
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 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.
At a news conference on Thursday, Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodriguez said 27 people were killed and four remained missing.
Lopez Obrador revealed after arriving to Mexico City that three of those missing were soldiers.
He called the storm “disastrous” and claimed that it was only because people sought refuge that there were no more deaths.
According to police, the majority of the dead were washed away by overflowing waterways.
Lopez Obrador said the government will launch an airlift to transfer aid and materials to the region.
Telephone communications resumed once the primary roadway connecting Mexico City and Acapulco reopened.