ACAPULCO (Reuters) - Two powerful storms pummelled Mexico as they converged from the Pacific and the Gulf on Monday, killing at least 41 people and forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands amid some of the worst flooding in decades.
Tropical Depression Ingrid battered Mexico’s northern Gulf coast, while the remnants of Tropical Storm Manuel lashed the Pacific coast, inundating the popular beach resort of Acapulco, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
Even as they weakened, the storms continued to unleash massive rains that have killed more than three dozen people in the states of Veracruz, Guerrero, Puebla, Hidalgo, Michoacan and Oaxaca, national emergency services said.
In the popular Pacific resort of Acapulco alone, at least 21 people were killed as buildings collapsed and roads were transformed into raging rivers, said Constantino Gonzalez, an official with Guerrero state emergency services.
“Unfortunately, the majority of the deaths have occurred here in Acapulco due to landslides that completely buried homes,” said Gonzalez.
Officials said thousands of tourists were stranded due to cancelled flights and closed highways.
State oil monopoly Pemex said it had evacuated three oil platforms and halted drilling at some wells on land due to the storms.
President Enrique Pena Nieto, who led Mexican independence day celebrations in Mexico City on Monday, was set to inspect storm damage in Guerrero state.
“The storms have affected two-thirds of the entire national territory,” the interior minister, Miguel Osorio Chong, said at a news conference in Mexico City.
Chong called the flooding “historic” and said the city of Acapulco had sustained major damage. The resort’s international airport remained closed due to power failure, as were two major highways, in the wake of Manuel.
In Veracruz state, along Mexico’s Gulf coast, 12 people died on Monday after their bus and two nearby homes were buried by a mountain landslide near the town of Xaltepec, Governor Javier Duarte told reporters.
Across the state, 23,000 people were evacuated from their homes and 9,000 remained in emergency shelters, according to a post on Duarte’s Twitter account.
Public school classes in Veracruz were cancelled for Tuesday.
Ingrid, which weakened from a hurricane earlier on Monday, prompted Pemex to evacuate three platforms at its offshore Arenque field, operated by British oil services firm Petrofac, and close 24 wells in its onshore Ebano-Panuco field, a company official said.
On Pemex’s Twitter page, the company said it had activated “emergency procedures” at its Francisco Madero refinery on the Gulf coast of northern Tamaulipas state, but did not provide details. The refinery has a processing capacity of 180,000 barrels per day, including crude from both the Arenque and Panuco fields.
Ingrid maintained maximum winds of 35 miles per hour (55 kph) and was expected to further weaken as it moved overland.
The tropical depression continued to dump heavy rains as it churned 6 miles per hour (9 kph) toward the west.
The NHC said isolated areas could see as much as 25 inches of rain, particularly in mountainous terrain, resulting in additional life-threatening flash floods and mud slides.
The Mexican government had discontinued all coastal warnings and watches by Monday afternoon.
Manuel’s maximum sustained winds stood at 30 mph (45 kph) as it dissipated over west-central Mexico, although heavy rainfall is expected to continue along the country’s southwestern coast.
Additional reporting by David Alire Garcia and Anahi Rama; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Philip Barbara