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Hurricane Otis death toll climbs to 45 in Mexico

By Karol Suarez, Ashley R. Williams and Duarte Mendonca, CNN

(CNN) — At least 45 people have died after powerful Hurricane Otis tore through southern Mexico’s Guerrero state as a devastating Category 5 storm last week, the region’s governor said Sunday.

At least 47 people remain missing, Guerrero Gov. Evelyn Salgado Pineda said in a Monday morning news conference.

Shortly after midnight Wednesday, the record-breaking storm brought sustained winds of 165 mph ashore near Acapulco, leaving the popular southern Mexico tourist destination in ruins.

Salgado Pineda’s said Sunday that 340 people have been rescued by Mexican authorities.

The hurricane impacted 220,035 homes and 80% of the area’s hotels were damaged, according to the Mexican government’s preliminary damage assessment.

The health sector reported ground-floor flooding at one hospital, and electromechanical equipment and the medicinal gas supply were affected at another hospital, authorities said in a statement Saturday.

Falling trees and landslides triggered by Otis resulted in multiple roads being closed.

Mexico’s Seismic Alert System (SASMEX) has damage to 27 sensors in the Pacific Ocean region. The Acapulco International Airport also suffered damage, but operations have since resumed, officials said.

An underestimation of the threat in early forecasts left residents and officials in southern Mexico with minimal time to prepare for Otis’s severity. Within a mere 12 hours, Otis rapidly intensified from a tropical storm to the area’s strongest storm on record, CNN previously reported.

The devastation from Otis left structures, including some high-rise buildings, in shambles with exposed cinder blocks, scattered pieces of wood and nonexistent rooftops, images and video showed. Storm surge and rain inundated roads with several feet of murky floodwaters.

The storm knocked out power in over half a million homes and businesses across the Guerrero state, according to Mexico’s Federal Electricity Commission, which had restored electricity to 58% of those affected in Acapulco by Sunday, according to the governor.

“They have been intense days of permanent work, without rest and with the sole aim of recovering our Acapulco. We are advancing in efficiently distributing humanitarian aid, providing relevant supports and advancing in restoring services,” Salgado Pineda said.

Around 10,000 military members were deployed to the Acapulco area to assist with efforts, authorities said.

Guerrero’s state government said it coordinated the transfer of 200 tourists farther inland to Mexico City.

President Joe Biden said in a statement Friday he is “deeply saddened by the loss of life and devastation” from Hurricane Otis.

“I have directed my Administration to work closely with our partners in the Government of Mexico to offer our full support,” Biden said in the statement. “We are also working to ensure the safety of American citizens in and around Acapulco.”

CNN’s Elizabeth Wolfe and Mary Gilbert contributed to this report.

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