The Washington Post

At least 30 dead as tropical storms rake Mexico

Army soldiers and a civilian look out into a flooded street caused by Tropical Storm Manuel in the city of Chilpancingo, Mexico, Sunday Sept. 15, 2013. (Alejandrino Gonzalez/AP)

Twin tropical storms slammed Mexico’s east and west coasts with drenching rain, killing at least 30 and darkening the country’s Sept. 16 Independence Day festivities.

On the Pacific coast, Tropical Storm Manuel came ashore Sunday afternoon near the port of Manzanillo, dumping heavy rain on remote mountain communities in the nearby state of Guerrero. Swollen rivers swept away homes and bridges, and authorities had to shut down the airport at the beach resort of Acapulco.

The flooding cut off the state’s main road link to the rest of Mexico, as mudslides left the Sun Highway impassable and indefinitely closed along the 200-mile stretch from Acapulco to Cuernavaca.

A separate storm system, Ingrid, made landfall early Monday on Mexico’s gulf coast, having weakened from hurricane strength to a tropical storm.

Its rain was blamed for deaths in Puebla, Hidalgo and other states, including Veracruz, where a mudslide in the rural town of Xaltepec buried a bus, killing at least 12.

Luis Felipe Puente, Mexico’s civil defense coordinator, said it was the first time the country had been hit by deadly storms simultaneously. At a news conference, he told reporters that damage in Guerrero from the torrential rain was so severe that federal officials had declared an “extraordinary” state of emergency and that the Red Cross was collecting donations.

Television images from Guerrero showed wild, churning rivers and battered beach umbrellas scattered by the pounding surf.

“This is a very difficult situation,” Guerrero Gov. Ángel Aguirre told Milenio TV. “We’ve had extensive damage.”

Mexican troops were dispatched to conduct rescue and recovery operations in the disaster areas, while thousands of other soldiers marched under gray skies through the capital’s central Zocalo plaza for the annual Independence Day military parade.

Nick Miroff is a Latin America correspondent for The Post, roaming from the U.S.-Mexico borderlands to South America’s southern cone. He has been a staff writer since 2006.
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