Hurricane Otis death toll rises but number of missing in Acapulco remains unclear

Hurricane Otis is thought to be the worst disaster to strike Acapulco, Mexico, since Hurricane Pauline flooded the region in 1997.

MEXICO CITY – As calls for help grow from the worst-hit communities in the Mexican state of Guerrero, the country’s death toll was reported to have risen to at least 39 on Saturday after Category 5 Hurricane Otis made landfall Wednesday.

Residents around Acapulco were seen digging through debris days after the storm, but it remains unclear how many people are still missing.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador released a lengthy video statement Saturday but did not address how many victims could still be in need of assistance following the storm.

A government report stated that 80% of hotels and resorts were damaged, which tend to be the more substantial structures in communities.

Video taken at the Hotsson Hotel in Acapulco during the storm showed people huddling in an interior room as windows were blown out, and witnesses said it felt like the building was depressurized.


"I am writing to you from the Hotsson Hotel in Acapulco," Erik Fellini wrote while riding out the hurricane in the resort. "We have been in terror for an hour. The hurricane is destroying everything, the water entered the room on the 8th floor. The noise in the air is impressive, glass in the rooms is breaking, the hotel moves as if it were an earthquake."

Unlike previous tropical cyclones, Otis impacted a heavily populated region along the coast that more than a million residents call home.

Mexican officials have also not addressed how many tourists they believe remain stranded in the southwestern region of the country.

Acapulco International Airport suffered significant damage during the hurricane but has resumed some operations.


Celebrity chef José Andrés, who leads a group of volunteers that provide meals to communities suffering from disasters said that in the early days after the historic storm, it was impossible to land supplies in the area due to the damage.

The Mexican government said it has resources in place to feed more than 7,000 people, but it is unclear if the mobile kitchens were positioned where residents in the worst-hit areas could reach them.

Video from Reuters showed looting of stores and buildings as people began to search for food, water and other supplies during the long recovery process.