ACAPULCO, Mexico – Hurricane Otis roared into the Mexican beach resort of Acapulco as a Category 5 storm early on Wednesday, battering hotels and sending tourists running for cover as it pummeled the southern Pacific coast with torrential rain and fierce winds.
Videos posted on social media showed rooms wrecked by the passing of the hurricane, ceilings and walls rent open, windows smashed and cars partly submerged in floodwaters as the southern state of Guerrero awoke to the disarray left in Otis’ wake.
Debris was strewn all around lobbies, patios, streets and hotel balconies as the hurricane wreaked havoc across the shoreline. Phone communications were seriously hit by the storm, making it hard to relay a detailed picture of the damage.
Photographs on social media indicated the sides of some buildings in Acapulco had been partially peeled off by Otis.
Luisa Pena, a shaken hotel guest in Acapulco, related how she hid in a closet after being caught in the eye of the storm.
“I literally started to pray,” she said in a video on TikTok. “Panic took hold of me to such an extent that all I asked for was just one more chance,” she added, saying her room had been “destroyed” as Otis ripped through the building.
Footage from one hospital on social media showed nurses evacuating patients from their rooms to keep them safe from Otis, which strengthened unexpectedly fast at sea and barreled into the coast with winds of 165 miles per hour (266 kph).
One of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit the region, Otis reached the shore at a Category 5 strength before quickly weakening to a Category 4 storm. Its power slackened further as it moved inland, reducing Otis to a tropical storm.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said there were no immediate reports of fatalities from the storm, but cautioned that authorities were struggling to obtain updates.
“The hurricane is still affecting the area and communications are completely down,” he told reporters at a regular government press conference.
Otis remains over the state of Guerrero and will continue to generate heavy rains in much of the region, Mexico’s national water agency, CONAGUA, said in a statement.
Mexico’s civil protection authorities reported power outages throughout Guerrero, affecting hundreds of thousands, while flights to and from Acapulco were suspended and classes canceled due to Otis.
Mexican authorities expressed shock at the sudden force of Otis, which plowed in to the Pacific coast almost exactly eight years after Hurricane Patricia, a storm that whipped up winds of 200 miles per hour (322 kph).
At around 12 p.m. local time (1800 GMT), Otis was 130 miles (209 km) north-northwest of Acapulco, blowing winds of 60 miles per hour (97 kph), the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
Otis could bring up to 20 inches (51 cm) of rain to parts of Guerrero and Oaxaca states, mudslides, a “potentially catastrophic” storm surge, and life-threatening surf and rip current conditions, authorities said.
CONAGUA warned of 6- to 8-meter (20- to 26-foot) surf off Guerrero and parts of Oaxaca.
In Guerrero, authorities opened storm shelters, and the National Guard was ready for rescues and evacuations.
The Defense Ministry enacted a disaster plan ahead of the storm’s arrival, Lopez Obrador said late on Tuesday, as soldiers patrolled Acapulco’s emptying beaches. — Reuters
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