ACAPULCO, MEXICO - The death toll rose to 47 Tuesday from the unusualone-two punch of a tropical storm and a hurricanehitting Mexico at nearly the same time. Authorities scrambled to get help into, and stranded tourists out of, the cutoff resort city of Acapulco.
With roads blocked by landslides, rockslides, floods and collapsed bridges, Acapulco was cut off from road transport after Tropical Storm Manuel made landfall on Sunday. The terminal at the city's international airport was flooded, but not the landing strips.
Emergency flights began arriving in Acapulco to evacuate at least 40,000 mainly Mexican tourists stranded in the resort city where some streets were transformed into raging brown rivers.
Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong told the Radio Formula that 27 people had died because of the storm in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero, where Acapulco is located. Osorio Chong said 20 more people died nationwide, many as a result of former hurricane Ingrid, which struck the Gulf coast on Monday. Mexican meteorologists said it was the first time since 1958 that two tropical storms or hurricanes had hit both the country's coasts within 24 hours.
While most Acapulco hotels seemed to be operating normally on Tuesday, many outlying neighborhoods were without water or electricity, and floodwaters were knee-deep at the city airport's check-in counters.
Federal officials said it could take at least another two days to open the main highway to Acapulco, which was hit by more than 13 landslides from surrounding hills, and to bring food and relief supplies into the city of more than 800,000 people.
Two of Mexico's largest airlines, Aeromexico and Interjet, began running flights to and from the still-swamped international airport. Those with tickets got first priority, then families with small children or elderly members, officials said.
Interjet's director Luis Jose Garza told Milenio TV that his airline's first flight was taking 150 passengers back to Mexico City and it hoped to run four to six such flights Tuesday.
Guerrero state's government said 40,000 tourists were stuck in the city, but the head of the local chamber of business owners said reports from hotels indicated the number could be as high as 60,000.
Thousands of stranded tourists lined up outside an air force base north of Acapulco to try to get a seat on one of a handful of planes flying to Mexico City. Many said they've been waiting at the base for hours after they were unable to return to Mexico City by road.
Gavin McLoughlin, 27, a teacher at Mexico City's Greengates School, said he went to Acapulco on a late night bus Thursday with about 30 other teachers at the school, many of whom are in their 20s.
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