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At least three dead from groundswell

Waves as high as 10 meters damage beachfront homes and businesses

Huge waves have caused at least three deaths and major damage to hundreds of homes and businesses, and it all started with a storm off New Zealand. The massive groundswell on the Pacific coast resulted in alerts being issued from Jalisco to Chiapas.

Worst hit was the state of Guerrero, where waves as high as 10 meters were reported, damaging 535 homes and over 200 commercial structures in the Costa Grande and Costa Chica regions, according to information from Civil Protection officials.

The Mexican Army activated its plan DN3 in Coyuca de Benítez and proceeded to evacuate over 150 residents who were taken to three shelters, said Civil Protection spokesman Raúl Miliani Sabido. Three people were reported injured.

Miliani Sabido said that in Acapulco two people disobeyed warning calls and went for a swim: one died and the second was injured. In a separate incident, a tourist was dragged away by strong currents and is still missing.

Restaurateurs at Pie de la Cuesta had to protect themselves from the waves with sandbags after 20 establishments were affected.

Costera Miguel Alemán remained closed on Sunday due to flooding. Army personnel mounted guard at the entrances to the beach.

The groundswell affected Acapulco on a busy long weekend with hotel occupancy running at 95%. Civil Protection has coordinated state and municipal efforts to guarantee tourists’ safety.

Eight-meter-high waves struck the coast of Colima, flooding roads, destroying at least 100 commercial stands and prompting the evacuation of close to 150 people in the cities of Tecomán, Armería and Manzanillo.

Due to the danger presented by the swell, access to Tecomán beaches at Boca de Pascuales was cancelled until further notice.

In Michoacán, a search is under way for a woman who was dragged under by a wave while walking on a beach in Caleta de Campos. A companion was rescued after being swept on to some rocks, but the woman disappeared.

Civil Protection issued statewide warnings due to waves up to four meters high and as a precaution, seafront shops and businesses were closed.

A search is under way off Violin Beach in Huatulco, on the coast of Oaxaca, for a young man who went fishing in spite of warnings by authorities in the area that people stay out of the water. A general alert was issued for at least 70 Oaxaca municipalities where groundswell waves have reached heights of up to 10 meters.

Beach restaurants from Salina Cruz to Pinotepa Nacional have been hit hard by the swell.

Surfers in Puerto Escondido said the waves were the biggest they’d seen in 20 years.

In Chiapas, waves reached up to four meters in Puerto Chiapas, affecting restaurants and homes close to the beach. Residents fled their homes, carrying what they could as the waves travelled up to 100 meters inland, according to local officials.

Current forecasts predict continuing groundswell conditions in the next 36 hours, with waves of three to four meters expected to affect much of the Pacific coast.

Sources: La Jornada (sp), El Universal (sp), Milenio (sp)

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