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Hundreds of Canadians in Acapulco when Hurricane Otis hit

By Megan DeLaire, CTVNews.ca Writer

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    Toronto, Ontario (CTV Network) — There are no Canadian victims among the dozens of people killed by Hurricane Otis, Global Affairs Canada has confirmed to CTVNews.ca. Nor were any reported injured or missing.

Officials in Mexico said on Thursday the hurricane killed at least 27 people as it slammed into Acapulco, and that another four were missing.

Otis intensified into a Category 5 hurricane as it swept Mexico’s southern Pacific coast on Wednesday morning, flooding the resort city and cutting essential services like transportation, power, telecommunications, emergency services and medical care throughout the state of Guerrero.

According to Global Affairs Canada (GAC), there are 204 Canadians registered with the Registration of Canadians Abroad Service in Guerrero.

“However, this number provides only an estimate of Canadians as registration is voluntary,” GAC spokesperson Pierre Cuguen told CTVNews.ca in an email Thursday.

Cuguen said the agency has received 35 inquiries related to Hurricane Otis and is providing assistance, but did not share the nature of the inquiries. He did not indicate whether any Canadians are among those killed or injured when Otis made landfall in Acapulco.

Nicholas Temos was in Acapulco for work, attending an event with colleagues on Tuesday when he heard the first murmurings of a hurricane headed for the region. This was a few hours before Hurricane Otis made landfall. At first, the Victoria, B.C., resident assumed the storm would be minor, since he’d only just heard about it.

“Initially, I didn’t take it that seriously,” Temos told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview on Thursday.

But when weather conditions deteriorated over dinner at his hotel’s restaurant that evening, the impending disaster became impossible to ignore.

“The hotel staff basically told us to try to stay inside, and they were getting increasingly nervous,” he said. “And then at about 11 o’clock or midnight, it started getting more aggressive … it started getting pretty windy and pretty serious.”

Temos was able to ride out the storm safely in his hotel room, even as water seeped in from the hallway outside. He said the force of the storm blew the doors off the hotel’s laundry chutes and smashed the windows in some guests’ rooms. From inside his room, Hurricane Otis sounded like a speeding freight train.

When Temos ventured out of the hotel later that night, he was confronted with scenes of destruction in every direction.

“The biggest power lines that you can imagine were everywhere. I don’t know if I saw a power pole that was standing. There was debris everywhere,” he said. “There were concrete buildings that were just gone, only the steel frame was there, and vehicles that had flipped over.”

From the elevated highway, he could see that the hotel restaurant where he’d eaten dinner just hours before had become a pile of rubble.

“It looked like it was in a blender,” he said, the damage reminding him of buildings toppled by earthquakes.

With many of the roads in Acapulco flooded or clogged with debris and traffic, Temos said it took 10 hours to get out of the city by car. He managed to reach Mexico City in time to catch his scheduled flight home to Vancouver, but he knows there are many who won’t be able to escape the destruction in Acapulco.

“There’s people there that are already living in sort of tropical infrastructure with brick and tin roofs and things like that, and those are absolutely gone,” he said. “I’d go by apartment buildings and … six or seven floors of an apartment building were gone.”

The hurricane reached maximum sustained winds of 230 kilometres per hour before weakening to a Category 2 storm mid-morning on Wednesday, with winds decreasing to 17 km/h.

In its wake, Otis left behind significant property damage, flooded hotel rooms, downed trees and blocked roads. The Associated Press reports experts are calling it the strongest hurricane in history to make landfall along the Eastern Pacific Coast.

As of Wednesday night, the main highway into Acapulco was reportedly impassable, and some 500,000 households remained without power. A popular tourist destination, the city is also home to nearly one million people.

A travel advisory for the region warns Canadians to avoid non-essential travel there and instructs those currently in the region to shelter in place, monitor local news and weather reports and follow the lead of local authorities.

While the Consular Agency of Canada in Acapulco is temporarily closed due to the storm, Canadians in need of emergency consular assistance can contact the Embassy of Canada in Mexico City.

With files from CTVNews.ca Writer Melissa Lopez-Martinez and The Associated Press

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