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Death Toll from Category 5 Hurricane Otis in Mexico Increases to 39, says Security Authorities

by Joshua Brown
8 comments
Hurricane Otis Death Toll

On Saturday, Mexican security officials updated the number of fatalities from Hurricane Otis, a Category 5 storm that impacted the southern Pacific coast of the country on Wednesday. The revised death toll now stands at 39, up from the initial count of 27 reported on Thursday.

Mexico’s Security Secretary Rosa Icela Rodríguez, in a video message alongside President Andrés Manuel López Obrador that was disseminated on platform X, stated that the deaths occurred due to “asphyxiation by submersion.” She noted that the identification process for the victims is ongoing, and further investigations are being carried out.

The updated figure comes amidst increasing scrutiny and local media reports of additional bodies being recovered. President López Obrador chastised his political adversaries for attempting to politicize the human cost of the natural disaster. Rodríguez also reported that the number of missing persons has escalated to 10, while hundreds of families are still waiting for news about their relatives.

Relief Efforts Gain Traction in Acapulco After Slow Start

In the wake of the disaster, Acapulco saw organized relief activities intensifying four days post the hurricane. Both government personnel and volunteers were actively involved in clearing streets. Despite the urgency, residents encountered long lines at gas stations, and basic food items were being distributed to fortunate families.

The aid was tardy in its arrival, exacerbated by the rapid intensification of Hurricane Otis on Tuesday. The storm isolated the city of nearly one million residents and hampered preparations as nothing substantial had been set up in advance.

The search for deceased and missing individuals proved challenging for authorities. Skepticism loomed regarding the initially reported death toll of 27 and four missing persons, as it remained unchanged for two days. A military official, who chose to remain anonymous due to unauthorized media contact, revealed that officials in his jurisdiction had discovered at least six bodies, with his own unit accounting for one.

The process of finding the deceased was complicated by the fact that bodies were often concealed by fallen trees and debris. Even the security forces were not provided with updated figures, adding to the uncertainty while hundreds of families anxiously awaited news of their loved ones.

Residents Struggle Amidst Scarcity

Orlando Mendoza, a 46-year-old resident, was seen walking along a highway drenched in sweat, carrying food items like tuna, sardines, water, pasta, and soup for his family. A group of volunteers from the central state of Puebla distributed food packages to families such as Mendoza’s.

Long lines for gasoline were overseen by soldiers to prevent uncontrolled looting, a scenario seen in previous days. Abel Montoya, 67, expressed his need for fuel as essential for searching for water and food, raising the possibility that he might even leave Acapulco for the state capital, Chilpancingo.

Electrical outages disabled gas pumps, leading to a gasoline shortage. Water scarcity became another significant concern, as the municipal water system was non-operational due to lack of power. Stores and groceries were devastated, initially by the hurricane and subsequently by looting.

For more climate coverage, visit: AP Climate and Environment

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Hurricane Otis Death Toll

What is the updated death toll from Hurricane Otis in Mexico?

The updated death toll from Hurricane Otis in Mexico is 39, as announced by Mexican security authorities on Saturday. This is an increase from the initial count of 27 reported on Thursday.

What was the cause of death for the victims?

The cause of death for the 39 victims was cited as “asphyxiation by submersion,” according to Rosa Icela Rodríguez, Mexico’s Security Secretary. Investigations and identification processes for the victims are ongoing.

What was the initial death toll and why did it change?

The initial death toll was 27. The figure was updated to 39 after further search and recovery operations. Local media had reported the recovery of more bodies, leading to public scrutiny over the initial numbers.

How has the Mexican government responded to the disaster?

Four days after Hurricane Otis, the government has intensified relief efforts, particularly in Acapulco. Streets are being cleared, and basic food items are being distributed. Despite this, the aid has been slow to arrive, largely due to the storm’s rapid intensification and the resulting logistical challenges.

Are there still missing persons?

Yes, the number of missing persons has risen to 10. Hundreds of families are still waiting for news about their relatives.

What are the current challenges faced by the residents of Acapulco?

Residents are grappling with long lines at gas stations and shortages of essential food items. The electrical outage has disabled gas pumps, leading to a gasoline shortage. Additionally, the municipal water system is out of operation due to a lack of power.

How are volunteers contributing to relief efforts?

Volunteers, including a group from the central state of Puebla, are distributing food packages to families. They are complementing government efforts to provide aid and relief to the affected communities.

What is the political angle to the disaster?

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has criticized political adversaries for attempting to politicize the human cost of Hurricane Otis. This comes amidst increasing scrutiny and local media reports of additional bodies being recovered.

Are there concerns about law and order in the affected areas?

Yes, soldiers are overseeing the distribution of gasoline to prevent uncontrolled looting, which had occurred in the city in the days following the hurricane.

Where can more information on climate and environmental coverage be found?

More in-depth coverage related to climate and the environment can be found at AP Climate and Environment.

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8 comments

William Lee October 29, 2023 - 12:11 am

It’s good that the media’s keeping tabs. The initial numbers didn’t sound right, and now we know it’s sadly much worse.

Reply
Sarah Williams October 29, 2023 - 1:05 am

It’s sad to see the destruction caused by Hurricane Otis. And even worse when it becomes a political issue. People are suffering, and that should be the focus.

Reply
Robert Johnson October 29, 2023 - 1:36 am

Running out of water and electricity, it’s like a nightmare that just keeps getting worse. Hope they can restore the basics soon.

Reply
Nancy Davis October 29, 2023 - 5:05 am

Every time I read updates on this, it breaks my heart. Hoping for a fast recovery for everyone involved, but I know its a long road ahead.

Reply
Lisa Brown October 29, 2023 - 5:09 am

Isn’t it ironic that there’s a gasoline shortage when theres no electricity to pump it? What a mess.

Reply
John Smith October 29, 2023 - 8:11 am

The situation is just devastating, can’t believe the toll has climbed to 39 now. My prayers are with all the affected families.

Reply
Emily Clark October 29, 2023 - 7:20 pm

The volunteers are real heroes, stepping up when the gov seems to be falling short. Bless them!

Reply
Mike O'Donnell October 29, 2023 - 7:36 pm

why is aid so slow to arrive? they should’ve been better prepared. This is a disaster on multiple levels.

Reply

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