Mexico scours for dozens missing amid floods as storms abate
LA PINTADA, Mexico, Sept 20
LA PINTADA, Mexico, Sept 20 (Reuters) - Rescuers cleared mud from shattered houses on Friday, searching for dozens of people missing after a mudslide flattened their village in southwest Mexico as some of the most destructive storms to hit the country in decades abated.
They also scoured for a rescue helicopter that vanished on Thursday in the storm-battered state of Guerrero with at least 10 people aboard.
Dozens of homes in La Pintada, a village about 60 miles (100 km) from the beach resort of Acapulco, were swallowed up by a mudslide touched off by heavy rain and flooding at the weekend that has killed at least 100 people across Mexico and forced thousands of people to abandon their homes.
The government said close to 300 people living around La Pintada had been rescued but 68 were still missing late on Thursday. Around 20 bodies have been recovered from the shattered village.
A Black Hawk helicopter, with two pilots and at least eight people rescued from villages outside Acapulco on board, lost contact with authorities on Thursday, Manuel Mondragon, the government's national security commissioner, told local media.
Acapulco has suffered some of the worst of the flooding that began when two tropical storms, Ingrid and Manuel, bore down on Mexico from the Pacific and the Atlantic, cutting a trail of destruction that has affected more than a million people.
Even as Manuel disintegrated after moving north on Thursday, heavy rain continued in Guerrero and Michoacan states overnight, causing river levels to rise and flooding more towns and villages. Ingrid dissipated earlier this week.
Around 40,000 tourists were stranded in Acapulco, though a significant portion of them have now been flown out.
President Enrique Pena Nieto said the storms had inflicted the worst widespread flooding damage in Mexico in recorded history, and he canceled a planned trip to the United Nations in New York next week to oversee relief efforts.
Streets turned into cascades of mud, homes were ruined and cars silted up with floodwaters as the government struggled to reach remote villages left helpless by the storms.
The damage the storms wrought could hamper the Mexican economy's recovery from a soft patch in the second quarter, economists said.
Acapulco was hit by looting this week as communication breakdowns put a squeeze on supplies while crocodiles escaped lagoons in the port of Tampico. More than 50,000 people have had to be evacuated from their homes.
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