Hurricane Manuel continued to wreak havoc across Mexico
on Thursday, causing mudslides and making it increasingly difficult for authorities to ferry out Acapulco area tourists who have been stranded for days following the convergence of two additional powerful storms earlier in the week.
Manuel rapidly strengthened from a tropical depression to a hurricane on Wednesday over the warm waters of the Gulf of California, according to AccuWeather.com
, and made landfall Thursday morning west of Culiacan, located in northern Sinaloa.
The hurricane was expected to weaken as its center tracked northeastward over mainland Mexico through Friday.
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Dozens of people were reported missing due to a mudslide triggered by Hurricane Manuel, Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto said on Wednesday, describing the damage as "catastrophic."
The hardest hit was the municipality of Atoyac de Alvarez, approximately 50 miles west of Acapulco, where some 58 individuals are reported missing, CNNMexico reported
As of Friday morning, first responders have recovered 15 bodies in the city, while an additional 70 or so people remain trapped underneath a river of mud that has buried 20 homes, the mayor of Atoyac told CNNMexico.
Hurricane Manuel's devastation comes just days after Mexico suffered from two powerful storms, one from the Pacific and the other the Gulf, which pummeled the country on Monday and gave way to some of the worst flooding the country had seen in decades, the Associated Press reported
On Wednesday, looting broke out in the Mexican beach resort of Acapulco
due to food and water shortages caused by the flooding, as the government struggled to reach the tens of thousands of people, of which approximately 40,000 were tourists
, cut off by the ever increasing rivers of mud and water.
As of Thursday morning, the flooding had reportedly claimed at least 80 lives.
As for the aid, which for days had reportedly been prevented from reaching some of the hardest hit areas, Mexico's president recently told reporters, "The aid is flowing. . . A large deployment (of resources) is being made specifically to the most affected areas."
It is unclear whether or not flights are still flying out of Acapulco's still-flooded international airport, however prior to Hurricane Manuel, the government was using two passenger planes, five helicopters and seven cargo planes to fly out stranded tourists, the AP noted.
As of Tuesday, the flights had reportedly removed some 2,750 previously stranded people from Acapulco.
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"It's horrible. We haven't eaten anything since nine in the morning," said Lizbeth Sasia, a 25-year-old teacher from Cuernavaca, Mexico, told the AP on Wednesday. "They keep telling us we'll be on the next flight, but the next flight never comes."
According to Mexico's Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, more than 1 million residents across Mexico have been affected in some way by the storms.
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