Thursday, May 23, 2024

Officials update Hurricane Otis death toll to 52, with 32 people missing

The official death toll from Hurricane Otis has risen to 52, while authorities assure that the search continues for 32 people still missing, two months after the devastating Category 5 hurricane hit Acapulco on Oct. 25.

The governor of Guerrero, Evelyn Salgado, gave the update during President López Obrador’s Wednesday morning press conference, citing figures from the state Attorney General’s Office. She said that the remains of 46 of the dead have been given to their families, while six more bodies have yet to be recovered.

Two months after Hurricane Otis hit Acapulco, the families of missing sailors are desperate to recover the bodies of their loved ones. (Carlos Alberto Carbajal/Cuartoscuro)

“Search actions on land continue, together with the main effort [at sea] by the Navy, but the national and state search commissions are also participating,” Salgado said. “The government’s principal and most sensitive task is to attend to the victims’ families.”

Salgado added that 31 people were missing at sea, and one person on land. Navy Minister Admiral Rafael Ojeda Durán said that the Navy has already carried out 100 searches at sea, 30 on land and 7 by air, to locate sunken boats and the bodies of missing sailors. So far, these searches have recovered 87 vessels and 17 bodies.

The update comes a month after families of missing sailors protested outside Acapulco’s Icacos Naval Base, alleging that authorities appeared to have stopped looking for their loved ones – many of whom were crew members on luxury yachts moored in Acapulco Bay. The group of protesters demanded that Governor Salgado and President López Obrador give more support to the Navy to continue and extend the search.

Nevertheless, the official count of the dead and missing from Hurricane Otis remains well below unofficial local estimates. The latest figure added only two dead and two missing to the last count given in November, while some local media have asserted that the true death toll could be up to seven times higher.

Meanwhile, efforts continue to reconstruct Acapulco’s devastated economy. The Fitch credit rating agency has estimated the losses from Hurricane Otis at US $16 billion. Although there is still extensive reconstruction to be done, there are also signs that the Pacific resort town is starting to get back on its feet, with 127 hotels partially reopening for the holiday season.

“We are going to be reporting periodically so that soon, very soon, the recovery, the rebirth of Acapulco is achieved,” the president said.

With reports from Milenio and Excelsior

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