ACAPULCO, Mexico - Mexican military and commercial flights airlifted hundreds of tourists stranded in the flooded resort of Acapulco on Tuesday, where looters ransacked stores after two deadly storms struck.
The official death toll rose to 47 after the tropical storms, Ingrid and Manuel, swamped large swaths of the country during a three-day holiday weekend, sparking landslides and causing rivers to overflow in several states.
Officials said 40,000 Mexican and foreign beachgoers were marooned in Acapulco hotels after landslides blocked the two main highways out of the Pacific city, while knee-high dark water covered the airport's terminal, leaving the the resort city of 680,000 people cut off.
Hundreds of people looted the Costco wholesale store in the exclusive Diamante district and broke glass doors to enter other shops in two malls, snatching food, home appliances and mattresses, an AFP correspondent said. "We can't stop them. We are in a serious emergency situation," a soldier said, declining to give his name.
Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong warned it would take two to three days to reopen the two highways out of Acapulco, which lies in the hard-hit southwestern state of Guerrero.
The airport terminal remained closed, but passengers were driven directly to the runway from a concert hall turned into a shelter and operations centre for the airlines.
The military and Aeromexico and Interjet airlines began to fly people to Mexico City. Transport Minister Gerardo Ruiz Esparza said around 600 people had been flown out so far.
Interjet president Miguel Aleman Magnani said flying into Acapulco was complicated, because the radar was out and there were few dry spots on the runway.