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Hurricane Otis: Nearly 100 People Dead or Missing in Mexico

The toll of Hurricane Otis is increasing in the days following its impact on the Pacific beachfront city of Acapulco, Mexico, last week. Otis made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane on October 25, 2023. Officials now report that the number of casualties from the storm has increased, with nearly 100 individuals confirmed dead or missing.

Hurricane Otis: Nearly 100 People Dead or Missing in Mexico

In a recent news release, the governor of Guerrero state, where Acapulco is located, stated that at least 45 people lost their lives, and 47 are still unaccounted for.

Sixteen of the recovered bodies have been returned to their families. This death toll includes three foreign residents, hailing from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

As its wind speeds increased by 115 mph in a single day before making landfall. This intensification marked the second-fastest rate ever recorded in modern times, as reported by the National Hurricane Center.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) labeled Otis as “the strongest hurricane in the Eastern Pacific to make landfall in the satellite era.”

The hurricane center had issued a warning on October 24 as the storm approached, describing it as a “nightmare scenario.”

Meteorologists and climate scientists are attributing such extreme storm behavior to warming oceans and the impact of climate change.

The rising sea surface temperatures in the warm ocean waters of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico are providing the fuel for these storms, according to Weather Channel meteorologist Richard Knabb.

Survivors of Hurricane Otis are now left with the overwhelming aftermath. Rumualda Hernandez, a resident of Acapulco, recounted her terrifying experience as she and her husband watched floodwaters rise around their home.

She described the fear and anxiety that gripped them during the storm but also highlighted their relief at surviving the ordeal.

“We are left with nothing,” Rumualda stated. “Everything is damaged.” Her sentiment reflects the impact that this natural disaster has had on the lives of countless residents.

Other residents of Acapulco have also provided accounts of the scale of damage caused by Hurricane Otis.

One restaurant owner described the situation as apocalyptic, highlighting the damage to buildings and businesses.

It’s estimated that roughly 90% of the city’s structures have been affected, leading to the closure of numerous businesses and hotels.

Local teacher Jesus Diaz echoed the sentiments of many, stating, “The hurricane took everything.” The resilience of the people in the face of such adversity are remarkable, but they are also in need of support and assistance.

Mexican officials are engaged in response and recovery efforts to aid the residents. They have initiated the delivery of water and fuel to those in need, as well as working to restore electricity services.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has assured the affected population that they will not lack for essentials like food, water, and basic necessities.

The cost of damage from Hurricane Otis is expected to reach $15 billion, underscoring the economic impact of the disaster.

Mexico has deployed approximately 17,000 members of the armed forces to maintain order and facilitate the distribution of food and supplies in Acapulco.

Moreover, efforts are underway to address the damage to ATM machines in the city to ensure that residents can access cash when needed.

Despite these efforts, challenges persist. Access to food and clean water remains difficult, and concerns about looting have arisen, prompting calls for security measures.

Retail group ANTAD has urged the government to intensify its efforts to prevent looting at stores run by its members.

Members of this group, including Soriana and Chedraui, have emphasized their condemnation of acts of robbery by the population and the need for security measures.

The situation is dire for many residents, with long lines forming for government-provided water. Residents have expressed frustration with the lack of support and assistance, with some discomfort and risks they face while waiting for essential resources.

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