At least 21 people have died in Mexico’s south and southeast due to heavy rain that triggered landslides and continued to cause flooding as of Saturday morning.
More than 100,000 people in Tabasco, Chiapas and Veracruz have been affected by the rains brought by two cold fronts and Tropical Storm Eta.
Nineteen of the reported deaths occurred in Chiapas, where at least 20 municipalities have received heavy rain. Among the deceased are 10 Tzotzil Mayan people who were killed in a landslide in the municipality of Chamula.
More than 2,000 homes have been damaged by landslides and heavy rain in the highlands region of the state.
Homes in more than 20 neighborhoods of San Cristóbal de las Casas have been damaged by flooding, according to municipal Civil Protection chief Pablo Reyes, and landslides have been reported in the municipalities of Yajalón, Tila and Chilón.
The two other reported deaths occurred in Tabasco, where some 80,000 people have been adversely affected by the heavy rains. Both victims drowned in floodwaters.
At least 10 rivers have burst their banks in the Gulf coast state, causing widespread flooding. President López Obrador, a Tabasco native, called on people in the state to take shelter.
“Tabasco compatriots: the rivers are growing and it’s still raining. Keep yourself informed and … if you live in low areas, seek refuge in shelters or with family members who have homes in high areas,” he wrote in a Facebook post published Friday afternoon.
“Although furniture, homes and other assets might be affected, the main thing is life. Material things can be replaced and we will always help you.”
In a video message posted to social media on Saturday morning, López Obrador warned that water released from the overflowing Peñitas dam in Chiapas will make the flooding worse in Tabasco. He said he would travel today to Villahermosa, where flooding is severe, and convene an emergency meeting of the federal security cabinet in response to the situation.
The president noted that many of the most affected people in Tabasco are Chontal Mayans who live in low-lying coastal areas. He said Friday that corrupt past governments had allowed homes to be built in areas susceptible to flooding without constructing drainage infrastructure.
Tabasco Governor Adán Augusto López said Friday that the emergency in the state was at its “most critical point” but with the release of water from the Peñitas dam flooding could continue to worsen through Saturday.
The army, navy and Civil Protection services are helping vulnerable people evacuate their homes.
In neighboring Veracruz, at least 3,000 homes have been damaged by flooding and more than 10,000 people have been affected.
Communities in at least 12 municipalities in the state’s south and central regions have been cut off by landslides, the newspaper Milenio reported. Flooding is also widespread. Among the affected municipalities are Agua Dulce, Cosoleacaque, Las Choapas, Minatitlán and Uxpanapa.
The National Meteorological Service forecasts torrential rain in Tabasco, Chiapas and Quintana Roo due to Tropical Storm Eta, which was about 70 kilometers west-northwest of Grand Cayman at 9:00 a.m. CST.
Intense rain is also forecast for Campeche, Oaxaca, Yucatán and the south of Veracruz.