Mexican drug war's hidden human toll includes 61,000 disappeared

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The Mexican government on Monday revised upward by as much as 50% the number of citizens classified as missing to more than 61,000, the vast majority of them victims of the country’s grinding war with powerful drug gangs that have grown more violent.

The new figure from the one-year-old administration of leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador compares to about 40,000 missing cited by the government as recently as June.

“The official data of missing persons is 61,637,” Karla Quintana, head of the National Registry of Missing or Missing Persons (RNPED), told a news conference. She said 25.7% of them were women.

More than 97.4% of the total have gone missing since 2006, when then-President Felipe Calderon sent the army to the streets to fight drug traffickers, fragmenting the cartels, which made combating them more difficult.

Reporting by Abraham Gonzalez and Lizbeth Diaz; Writing by David Alire Garcia and Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall