More than 100 people have been killed and scores are missing in landslides and flooding caused by heavy rain in Mexico, a senior government official said late on Friday.
Mexican Minister of the Interior Miguel Angel Osorio Chong delivered the grim news from the resort town of Acapulco, in one of the worst-affected regions, with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto by his side.
The death toll stood at 101, with 68 people missing following a massive mudslide that swallowed half of La Pintada, a village in Guerrero State, Osorio Chong said.
Mexico was hammered by the one-two punch of tropical storms Ingrid and Manuel, which left a trail of destruction that damaged tens of thousands of homes, flooded cities and washed out roads.
After regenerating into a hurricane and hitting the northwestern state of Sinaloa late on Thursday, affecting 100,000 people and killing three, Manuel finally dissipated over the mountains.
Guerrero was the hardest hit area, with at least 65 deaths and its Pacific resort of Acapulco left isolated after the two roads to Mexico City were covered in landslides on Sunday last week.
Osorio Chong also said that authorities are searching for a police helicopter that had been evacuating people from La Pintada when it disappeared on Thursday. Only crew members are presumed missing.
Rescuers have abandoned the search by air because of heavy fog, but have continued to search by land, Osorio Chong said.
“We are really worried,” he told Radio Formula. “They risked their lives all the time, because it was important to evacuate people.”
Thousands of tourists trapped in flood-stricken Acapulco for almost a week packed into cars and buses on Friday after authorities reopened the road link to Mexico City following the storms.
Traffic piled up as police allowed cars to leave in groups of 50 to avoid huge backups.
More than 40,000 tourists, mostly Mexicans seeking sun during a three-day holiday weekend, were left stranded when the storms struck five days ago.
About 24,000 tourists left in airlifts organized by the military and commercial carriers, but tempers flared as they stood in long lines to get one of the precious seats.
More than 4,000 tourists left on 105 buses on Friday, officials said.
While tourists drove out of Acapulco, hundreds of troops and civil protection workers dug with shovels and pickaxes in La Pintada, a coffee-growing village west of Acapulco swamped by a huge mudslide.
Officially, 68 people are missing in the village and two people were killed — their bodies were pulled out of the debris — but villagers fear that scores have perished.
The mud collapsed on the village of 400 people during independence day celebrations on Monday last week, swallowing homes, a school and church before crashing into the river.