Mexico death toll nears 100 as new hurricane hits

Mexico death toll nears 100 as new hurricane hits
A damage truck is pictured in a flooded street in Acapulco in the state of Guerrero, Mexico.

Atoyac De Alvarez, Mexico, Sept 19, 2013 - Deaths from floods and landslides battering Mexico neared 100 on Thursday as a fresh hurricane hit the northwest and rescuers faced a risky mission in a village buried in mud.

Hurricane Manuel, the same weather system that pummeled the Pacific coast earlier this week, made landfall on the state of Sinaloa, prompting the evacuation of a small fishing town before weakening back to tropical storm force.

Luis Felipe Puente, the national civil protection coordinator, said the death toll rose to 97 from 81, with 65 of them registered in the southwestern state of Guerrero.

Guerrero was the hardest-hit state from the dual onslaught of Manuel and sister storm Ingrid on the east coast this week, which drenched most of the country, damaging bridges, roads and tens of thousands of homes.

The disaster left the Pacific coast resort of Acapulco cut off from the world, marooning tourists and residents, while a massive mudslide swamped a mountain hamlet of 400 people west of the city.

Ediberto Tabarez, the mayor of Atoyac de Alvarez, a municipality that oversees La Pintada, told AFP that at least 15 bodies have been found after more than 20 homes were crushed.

The threat of a new landslide in the coffee-growing village of La Pintada delayed a mission to seek 58 missing people. But the federal government said it had yet to confirm any deaths and that so far survivors testified that they had removed five bodies from the site. Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said rescue teams were unable to start the search because water was gushing from the hill, threatening to send more rock and mud over the village.

Police helicopters had rescued 334 women, children and senior citizens on Wednesday and were supposed to return on Thursday to pick up 45 men and a few officers who were left behind overnight.

"These 45 people are in a dangerous situation," Osorio Chong told MVS radio, adding that homes are barely visible. "The rest of the hill could fall." The mobile phones of AFP journalists heading to the village had no reception. An aerial video showed a river of mud that had slid down a hill, covering a huge chunk of the village.

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