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At Least 27 Dead After Hurricane Otis Devastates Acapulco, Mexico

At Least 27 Dead After Hurricane Otis Devastates Acapulco, Mexico
Fernando Astasio Avila / Shutterstock

Officials had little time to prepare after Hurricane Otis escalated from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane in just 12 hours, leaving dozens dead.

Record-breaking category 5 storm Hurricane Otis hit Acapulco, Mexico on Wednesday, leaving buildings in ruins and killing at least 27 people.

Mexican Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodriguez announced Thursday morning during a news conference that four people are also missing. According to CNN, officials and around 10,000 members of the military arrived in Acapulco late Wednesday after being delayed by the same damage that they have come to assist with.

Images that show structures and high-rises torn apart by the storm surge that also left roads flooded, causing people to need to wade through several feet of murky water.

There was little time for officials and residents to prepare for the storm as early forecasts underestimated the threat of the storm. Otis quickly developed from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane in just 12 hours.

El Niño impacts hurricanes and winter

Acapulco is a popular tourist destination, and according to Guerrero Gov. Evelyn Salgado, about 80 percent of the hotels were impacted. Salgado assured that her office is supporting tourists, and that there are 30 to 40 trucks that will evacuate visitors free of charge.

“In all of Acapulco there is not a standing [electric] pole,” Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador stated during a news conference Thursday.

The president noted that there are more than 1,000 workers to rebuild the grid so water service can be restored to the area.

Across Guerrero state, there have been more than 500,000 homes and businesses that have lost power, according to power utility CFE. Currently power has only been restored to 40 percent of those affected.

The hurricane did weaken once it moved inland, and had dissipated early Wednesday afternoon while over the mountains of southern Mexico. However the heavy rains are forecast to continue through Thursday, which could lead to flooding and mudslides.

Mexico National Guard personnel have been working to clear stranded vehicles, downed trees and other debris from the storm, the agency stated in a new release. Mexico’s Secretary of Infrastructure, Communication, and Transportation stated that the Acapulco International Airport has suspended operations in order to recover from the storm.

Otis’ rapid intensification is a symptom of the human-caused climate crisis in that it required significant ocean heat -- a scenario researchers note is becoming more frequent. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, more than 90 percent of warming around the globe over the past 50 years has taken place in the oceans. El Niño is also growing in the Pacific this year driving ocean temperature even higher.

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Kylie Werner