The aftermath of Category 5 Hurricane Otis has so far resulted in 48 fatalities and 36 people reported missing, as the population faces a dire lack of food and essential services.
10/29/2023. A man stands guard outside his house, in an area affected by the passage of Hurricane Otis, in the beach resort of Acapulco, in the state of Guerrero, Mexico. EFE/David Guzman
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Leer en español: Frustración y desesperación en Acapulco cinco días después del paso del huracán Otis
In Acapulco, frustration and desperation are growing among residents five days after the devastating impact of Hurricane Otis, as they face a shortage of food and essential services. Meanwhile, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has called for "order and rectitude" among the population to help "get Acapulco back on its feet."
President Calls for Unity in the Face of Adversity
The aftermath of the emergency triggered by Category 5 Hurricane Otis, which struck the resort city of Acapulco last Wednesday, has so far resulted in 48 fatalities and 36 people reported missing, according to Mexican government reports.
President López Obrador appealed to the people of Acapulco on Sunday, emphasizing the town's history of solidarity and resilience. He called for unity in these challenging times and stated that it is crucial to organize and meet the basic needs of the affected population. The president also assured that economic, tourism, and commercial activities would soon be reactivated, with two deputy ministers from the Ministry of Finance and the head of the Tax Administration Service scheduled to visit the tourist destination on Monday. He added that bank representatives and business sector members have been invited to work together to rebuild Acapulco, starting with the most vulnerable.
Military Efforts to Restore Order and Essential Services
Since Friday afternoon, approximately 10,000 soldiers from the Army, Navy, and the National Guard have been working to maintain order among a population that is desperate and frustrated due to a lack of water, food, electricity, telecommunications, and fuel. In addition to preventing possible looting and criminal activities, the troops are involved in clearing debris, vehicles, trees, and other obstacles to open up affected areas.
After five days since the hurricane's landfall, the death toll has risen to 48, with 43 fatalities in Acapulco de Juárez and five in Coyuca de Benítez, according to a government report. Three hours earlier, the governor of Guerrero state, Evelyn Salgado, had informed President López Obrador of 43 casualties as a preliminary figure. She also mentioned ongoing efforts to locate more individuals in coordination with the National and State Commissions of Human Rights and the National Commission for the Search of Disappeared Persons.
The slow reporting of victims is because four days after the hurricane's impact, authorities had not yet reached all affected areas, particularly in the Costa Sur region of Guerrero, which remained cut off from communication for nearly 24 hours after Otis hit.
Swift Action to Restore Power and Infrastructure
In a video message on social media, President López Obrador mentioned that all heads of state ministries are at the site, coordinating with state and municipal authorities to restore Acapulco as quickly as possible. He also shared that the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) has already restored 3,211 power poles out of the more than 10,000 toppled by the cyclone and that "by Monday night, the whole of Acapulco will have power again."
Tourists Evacuated, Telecom Networks on the Mend
Additionally, the Ministry of Infrastructure, Communications, and Transportation (SICT) reported that damage to the road network in Guerrero caused by Hurricane Otis would be resolved on Sunday, with the main toll and toll-free highways expected to be reopened. The Ministry of Tourism noted the completion of the evacuation of approximately 12,500 stranded tourists in the three areas of Acapulco: Diamante, Dorada, and Tradicional, with 98% being Mexican tourists. Telecommunications companies Telmex and Telcel announced that the Telmex backbone network, providing connectivity to Acapulco, is now fully restored, and progress has been made in restoring the Telcel network in Acapulco, with a 33% advance in radio base restoration.
Hurricane Otis rapidly intensified from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane in less than 12 hours, making it one of the most powerful cyclones in the history of the Pacific Ocean.