ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) – With a low, rumbling roar, an arc of dirt, rock and mud swept down the hillside in the remote mountain village of La Pintada, sweeping houses in its path, burying half the hamlet and leaving 58 people missing in its mad race to the river bed below.

It was the biggest known tragedy caused by twin weekend storms that struck Mexico, creating floods and landslides across the nation and killing at least 97 people as of Thursday — not counting those buried in La Pintada.

Every one of the nearly 400 surviving members of the village remember where they were at the moment the deadly wave struck on Monday afternoon, Mexico's Independence Day.

Nancy Gomez, 21, said Thursday that she heard a strange sound and went to look out the doorway of her family's house, her 1-year-old baby clutched in her arms. She saw the ground move, then felt a jolt from behind as her father tried to push her to safety.

She never saw him again. He's among 58 missing in the slide or a second one that fell and buried victims and would-be rescuers alike.

When the rain-soaked hillside, drenched by days of rain during Tropical Storm Manuel, gave way, it swept Gomez in a wave of dirt that covered her entirely, leaving only a small air pocket between her and her baby.

"I screamed a lot, for them to come rescue me, but I never heard anything from my mother or father or my cousin," she said as she lay on a foam mattress in a temporary shelter in Acapulco, her legs covered with deep welts. Eventually, relatives came from a nearby house and dug her out.

The missing from La Pintada were not yet included in the official national death toll of 97, according to Mexico's federal Civil Protection coordinator, Luis Felipe Puente. Some 35,000 homes across the country were damaged or destroyed.

People wade through waist-high water in a store's parking lot in Punta Diamante, south of Acapulco, Mexico, Wednesday, 18 September 2013. Photo: Eduardo Verdugo / AP

Government photos show major mudslides and collapsed bridges on key highways, including the Highway of the Sun, a major four-lane expressway that links Acapulco to Mexico City. All the main arteries to the Pacific Coast resort town remained closed Thursday.

Manuel, the same storm that devastated Acapulco, gained hurricane force and rolled into the northern state of Sinaloa on Thursday before starting to weaken.

Sinaloa civil protection authorities said some areas were already flooding and more than 2,000 people were evacuated, many from small fishing villages on the coast.

And a tropical disturbance was moving toward Mexico's soggy Gulf coast even as the countries struggles to restore services and evacuate those stranded by flooding from Manuel and Ingrid, which hit the Gulf coast.

Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong told local media that conditions were still so unstable in La Pintada on Thursday, three days after the slide, that rescuers hadn't been able to recover any bodies yet. He said villagers told him they had buried at least five of their neighbors themselves before help finally started arriving.

So isolated is Acapulco that cargo ships have been contracted to supply food to the city by sea. Only about 10,000 of the estimated 40,000 stranded tourists have been flown out since the improvised air lift began two days ago. […]

But their pain was nothing compared to that of Amelia Saldana, 43, a single mother who lost her four boys — twins aged 5, another aged 7 and the eldest, 17 — in the landslide in La Pintada.

Saldana had gone down to town's main square for an Independence Day celebration, a rare time off for villagers who spent most of their days working in their coffee plantations. Because it was raining, Saldana told her sons to stay home while she went down to the square to get some of the free hominy stew being given away.

Then she heard the landslide, a low rumbling that villagers described as sounding like an earthquake. When she ran back to where her house once stood, it no longer existed.

"I tried to get back to my kids, but I couldn't" Saldana said between sobs. "I feel bad, because I lost everything."

Death toll nears 100 in storm-ravaged Mexico


21 September 2013 (AFP) – Mexico struggled Saturday to recover from the effects of heavy rain that drenched two-thirds of the country over the last week, killing more than 100 people in landslides and flooding.

Since September 14 the country has been hammered by tropical storms Ingrid and Manuel, which left a trail of destruction that damaged tens of thousands of homes, flooded cities and washed out roads.

Mexico has not been hit simultaneously by two powerful storms like this since 1958, the National Weather Service said.

After regenerating into a hurricane and hitting the northwestern state of Sinaloa late Thursday, Manuel finally dissipated over the mountains.

As of late Friday the death toll stood at 101, with 68 people missing following a massive mudslide that swallowed half of the village of La Pintada in Guerrero state, Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said.

Osorio Chong delivered the grim news Friday from the resort town of Acapulco, in one of the worst-affected regions, with President Enrique Pena Nieto by his side.

The state of Guerrero was the hardest hit, with at least 65 deaths and its Pacific resort of Acapulco left isolated after the two roads to Mexico City were covered by landslides on September 15.

Osorio Chong also said that authorities are searching for a police helicopter that had been evacuating people from La Pintada when it disappeared Thursday. Only crew members were apparently missing.

"We are really worried," the minister earlier told Radio Formula. "They risked their lives all the time, because it was important to evacuate people."

The cost of repairing damage caused by the two storms is still "incalculable," Osorio Chong said. […]

Aerial view of a fallen bridge over the Papagayo River in Acapulco, Mexico, 17 September 2013. Photo: Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP / Getty Images

Thousands of tourists trapped in flood-stricken Acapulco packed into cars and buses on Friday after authorities reopened the road link to Mexico City following the storms.

Traffic piled up as police allowed cars to leave in groups of 50 to avoid huge backups on the "Sun Highway."

The highway department warned travelers that the trip north, which usually takes around four hours, would last nine to 10 hours, with only a single lane open in some stretches and a diversion to another road. […]

Half the city was flooded, while rising waters brought out crocodiles. Looters ransacked stores. […]

Meanwhile hundreds of troops and rescuers dug with shovels and pickaxes in La Pintada, the coffee-growing village west of Acapulco swamped by a massive mudslide.

Officially, two people were killed -- their bodies were pulled out of the debris -- and 68 are missing. Villagers fear that scores have perished.

"I think there's a lot of dead. A lot of my relatives died, they're buried and we can't do anything," said farmer Diego Zeron.

The mud collapsed on the village of 400 people during independence day celebrations last Monday, swallowing homes, a school and church before crashing into the river. [more]

More than 100 killed in Mexico landslides, flooding

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