At least 11 people have been killed and 22 others missing after Hurricane Agatha pounded the Pacific coast of Mexico, where a state of emergency has been declared following heavy rains.
Oaxaca (southern) authorities reported Wednesday (1) that damaged homes, blocked roads, at least two broken bridges and several isolated communities are part of the destructive balance.
“The river took away (…). When they told us to go we wanted to take something, but we could not. I did not bring a plate or a glass change of clothes or anything else.” Otilia Rios told AFP.
His dilapidated home, with its leafy roof and wooden supports, is one of dozens that have been washed away by wind and rain in the Co-municipality of Pune, a small community in the coastal municipality of Huatulco.
While traveling through the area, the AFP observed rivers overflowing, branching paths and fallen trees.
Agatha, the first Pacific hurricane of the season, made landfall off the Mexican coast near Puerto Angel on Monday afternoon, leaving only physical damage at the start but causing heavy rain.
The first deaths were announced Tuesday afternoon, and on Wednesday Oaxaca Governor Alejandro Murat said 11 people were dead and 22 were missing.
Initially, 33 people were reported missing by state officials, but 11 were later pronounced dead. He also said he was waiting for more details from the most affected municipalities.
“I embrace the families of those who lost their lives, and I want to find the missing when we can reach all communities. We will be on this search,” President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told a news conference this morning.
According to the Mexican Meteorological Service, there is an 80% chance that Agatha’s debris will make landfall in the Atlantic within five days, mainly affecting the Yucatan Peninsula.
In San Pedro, the epicenter of the phenomenon, two people were reported dead and both were minors, Mayor Syme Pineda told the television channel Milenio.
Affected families “did not want to leave their homes for fear of losing everything, practically everything was lost (…) There was six hours of water and strong winds, which was disappointing,” he reported.
Officials explained that there was a “total loss” at the well-known nudity beach Cipolite and that they were unable to communicate with the coffee and mountain areas of the municipality.
They had to walk 15 hours to get from the mountain area to the municipal area, Pineda added.
Most of the deaths occurred in mountainous cities, which were difficult to access and roads were closed.
Murat explained that a helicopter was ready at the resort of Huatulco to reach the Incommunicado municipalities as far as weather conditions permitted.
Oaxaca, one of the poorest states, is characterized by a large population of more than two million people living in communities of less than 2,500 people, many of whom live in the mountains. The governor explained that part of this was the difficulty of establishing an accurate balance.
In the troubled area, troops and national guards were deployed to clear the roads. A census has been launched to determine the number of houses affected and work is underway to fully restore telecommunications and electricity.
Mexico’s Meteorological Agency has warned that Agatha’s debris could rain over a wide area south and east of the country.
Authorities in Oaxaca and neighboring states are on high alert as it continues to rain.
Every year, Mexico experiences tropical cyclones along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, usually from May to November.
In October 1997, Hurricane Paulina pounded the Mexican Pacific coast with four hurricanes, killing more than 200 people and affecting the states of Oaxaca and Guerrero the most.
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