Governor Murat, center, wades through floodwaters with local officials in Juchitán. Governor Murat, center, wades through floodwaters with local officials in Juchitán.

Beatriz’ death toll reaches six in Oaxaca

Tropical storm damaged highways, flooded homes but also ended a severe drought

Six fatalities, hundreds of landslides, nine overflowing rivers, a collapsed bridge and hundreds of displaced victims represent the tally in Oaxaca of tropical storm Beatriz after it struck the coast Thursday evening.

The storm caused damage in 127 of the state’s 570 municipalities, most of them on the coast, in the southern Sierra, and in the Isthmus and Mixteca regions.

Four women and two minors, residents of mountain communities, died in Mexico’s first tropical storm of the hurricane season.

In the Isthmus municipality of Juchitán the overflowing Los Perros River affected over 100 families. Meter-deep waters forced residents in the lower parts of the city to flee their homes and seek protection with relatives or in one of five temporary shelters opened by the local Civil Protection office.

The Mexican Army set in motion its disaster relief program, Plan DN-III, and conducted air surveillance of several municipalities and towns located along the river’s banks.

The mixed civilian-military airport in Ixtepec City, which began operations just over a month ago, had to shut down.

The people of the coastal community of Santa María del Mar have now been cut off for over a week because their only access is by sea. There is road access but it has long been blocked by a neighboring community in a decades-long agrarian conflict.

Highway infrastructure between the Isthmus region and the state capital has been severely affected in at least two places. A stretch of the Oaxaca-Tehuantepec highway, No. 190, at San José de Garcia disappeared in a landslide while the Tequisistlán bridge (shown on map), on the same highway, was severely damaged by the strong current.

Described yesterday as being on the point of collapse, the bridge became the focus of a confrontation this morning between as many as 150 area residents who wished to cross and 15 soldiers who advised they didn’t.

The soldiers lost their argument, despite presenting a human barrier in an attempt to bar passage by the crowd, angered that they should not be allowed across.

One of the bridge’s central support pillars was severely damaged and there are concerns that debris being carried by the river, including large trees, would further weaken the pillar and cause the bridge to collapse.

Governor Alejandro Murat Hinojosa has requested the federal government declare a state of emergency to better deal with the aftermath of the storm.

The storm brought one piece of welcome news for people of the Isthmus region: their two-year-long drought is finally over.

This morning, the state Civil Protection office reported that the region’s main water source, the Benito Juárez reservoir, was at 70% capacity after months of remaining well below the 20% mark.

The National Water Commission (Conagua) has reported that rains are still expected in the isthmus, coast and southern Sierra regions of the state due to Beatriz’s remnant low-pressure area.

Source: El Universal (sp), Quadratín (sp), NVI Noticias (sp)

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Photos by NVI Noticias

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