Agence France-Presse

Mexico sandwiched by deadly storms Ingrid, Manuel

Wading down a flooded street in Acapulco, Mexico.
Credit: Pedro Pardo

MEXICO CITY, Mexico — Deadly tropical rainstorms pounded Mexico with both left and right hooks Monday, killing dozens and flooding much of the country.

Ingrid powered ashore as a hurricane before quickly weakening on the Gulf coast, killing as many as 20 people, 12 of them buried by a mudslide in Veracruz state.

The remnants of Manuel deluged the Pacific resort city of Acapulco and the mountains along the coast above and below it, killing at least 16 people over the weekend.

Floodwaters cut off many towns and villages. Multiple landslides closed the Autopista del Sol, a toll highway that slices through high mountains to connecting Acapulco with Mexico City. Sustained, often heavy rains continued falling nationwide.

Governors requested federal aid and Independence Day parades and other celebrations were canceled.

Mexican officials estimate thousand of homes damaged and more than 1 million people affected by the storms. President Enrique Peña Nieto dispatched cabinet ministers to Acapulco on Monday and made plans to visit there himself.

“Up to now the storms have affected two-thirds of the whole national territory," Interior Minister Miguel Osorio-Chong told a news conference, calling the simultaneous bicoastal punches “historic.”

Meanwhile, Humberto strengthened to a tropical storm in the central Atlantic and may become a hurricane by the end of the week, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The one-two pounding may be unusual but this week's storms are hardly the most damaging or deadliest weather Mexico has suffered in recent decades. Of late, the heavy rains from lower wattage hurricanes, tropical storms and depressions have caused far more damage than Category 5 torments.

Except for in Acapulco, where part of Sierra Madre range swings close to the coast, storms have been deadliest inland, where deforestation and narrow mountain valleys generate flash flooding.

In October 1998, Hurricane Mitch struck far southern Mexico and Central America, killing as many as 11,000 people. Most of the victims died in flash flooding and landslides from heavy rains that fell after Mitch had been downgraded to a tropical depression.

Pauline, at best a Category 1 hurricane, killed as many as 500 people in October 1997, when it dropped 16 inches of rain in 24 hours on Acapulco, scraping entire poor neighborhoods from the mountainsides just behind the pricey beach hotels.

Hurricane Gilbert struck Cancun exactly 25 years ago as a Category 5 storm, claiming few lives, but then hit land again in northern Mexico, killing some 400 people in the arid city of Monterrey.

Wilma, the most powerful Atlantic Basin storm ever recorded, hit Cancun and the adjacent coast dead-on in 2005. The storm claimed just eight lives in Mexico but caused millions of dollars in damage to Cancun's luxury hotels and wiped away much of its artificial tourist-magnet beaches. After entering the Gulf of Mexico, Wilma did a U-turn and clobbered South Florida, claiming dozens more lives and destroying billions in property.

Although hurricane season officially begins June 1, the most brutal storms hit Mexico in the late summer and early fall.

Ingrid is only the second Atlantic hurricane so far this season and the first to make land. It quickly weakened to a tropical storm as it rained itself out over the mountains of northeastern Mexico.

At nine so far, this year's tropical storms are three more than the historical average but have been far less powerful than usual.

Tropical Storm Fernand hit the Veracruz coast three weeks ago, it's heavy rains causing mudslides that killed more than a dozen people.

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