Mexican victims recount horror of twin storms, floods, landslides
ACAPULCO, Mexico — With a low, rumbling roar, an arc of dirt, rock and mud tumbled down the hillside in the remote mountain village of La Pintada, sweeping houses in its path, burying half the hamlet and leaving 68 people missing in its mad race to the river bed below.
It was the biggest known tragedy caused by twin weekend storms that struck Mexico, spawning floods and landslides across the nation and killing at least 97 people as of Thursday — not counting those missing in La Pintada.
Interior Minister Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said soldiers have recovered two bodies and continued to dig through the mud. He said that the work has been difficult because water is still running down hills in the area, and there is risk of more landslides.
All of the nearly 400 surviving members of the village remember where they were at the moment the deadly wave struck on Monday afternoon, Mexico's Independence Day.
Nancy Gomez, 21, said that she heard a strange sound and went to look out the doorway of her family's house, her 1-year-old baby clutched in her arms. She saw the ground move, then felt a jolt from behind as her father tried to push her to safety.
She never saw him again. He's among 68 missing in the slide or a second one that fell and buried victims and would-be rescuers alike.
When the rain-soaked hillside, drenched by days of rain during Tropical Storm Manuel, gave way, it swept Gomez in a wave of dirt that covered her entirely, leaving only a small air pocket between her and her baby.
Eventually, relatives came from a nearby house and dug her and the baby out.
The missing from La Pintada were not yet included in the official national death toll of 97, according to Mexico's federal Civil Protection coordinator, Luis Felipe Puente. About 35,000 homes across the country were damaged or destroyed.
Chong said he had a list of names of 68 missing La Pintada residents, but suggested that some may be alive and may have taken refuge in neighboring ranches or hamlets.
Government photos show major mudslides and collapsed bridges on key highways, including the Highway of the Sun, a major four-lane expressway that links Acapulco to Mexico City. All the main arteries to the Pacific Coast resort town remained closed Thursday.
Federal officials set up donation centers for storm aid Thursday, but they faced stiff questioning about why, instead of warning people more energetically about the oncoming storms, they focused on Independence celebrations and a military parade that kept dozens of aircraft and emergency vehicles in Mexico City, instead of the states where they were most needed. Congressman Manuel Huerta of the leftist Labor Party said “the underlying issue is that the federal government bears a large part of the responsibility for this tragedy.”
Federal security spokesman Eduardo Sanchez brushed off the criticism, telling reporters that emergency “protocols were followed strictly.”
Manuel, the same storm that devastated Acapulco, gained hurricane force and rolled into the northern state of Sinaloa on Thursday morning before starting to weaken, falling again to tropical storm strength. It would continue to spread heavy rains inland, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Turkey shoots down Russian jet it says violated its airspace
- Liberia has 1st Ebola death since being deemed free of disease in September
- Vatican puts 5 on trial for leaks
- Pakistani doctor who led CIA to bin Laden stuck in prison
- ISIS claims hotel attack in Egypt
- Philippines reappraises hoard of Marcos jewelry
- Tunisia put under state of emergency
- Settlement spat surfaces as Kerry visits Jerusalem
- Official: Paris attacks organizer was planning more carnage
- Using cellphones, Pakistan makes inroads in war against polio
- Belgium police arrest 21, Paris fugitive still at large