After Hurricane Otis, Mexican Officials Race to Assess the Damage

Security and medical officials on Thursday were confronting the destruction brought by one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to hit the southwest region of Mexico, one that struck a tourist haven with little warning.

Mexican officials have been working since Wednesday to restore communication and power to the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca after Otis, which made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane, cut off power for more than half a million residents, battered hotels and ripped the roofs from buildings.

Authorities were particularly concerned about Acapulco, a Pacific Coast port city of more than 852,000 people that was in the direct path of Otis. The city, in Guerrero State, was hosting an international mining industry convention when the storm hit; additionally, many hotels were packed with tourists. People stuck there posted videos on social media showing ravaged hotel rooms, doors ripped from hinges and collapsed ceilings.

With the region effectively cut off from the outside world, the extent of possible injuries and deaths was still unclear.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said on Wednesday that he had sent federal security officials, as well as four of his administration’s ministers, to survey the area and would soon go to Acapulco himself. Also on Wednesday, Zoé Robledo, the director general of the Mexican Social Security Institute, said he had sent an emergency team of nurses who had recently worked in Haiti.

“We are also preparing personnel teams for conservation issues: medicine supply, personnel strengthening, focusing on the patients,” Mr. Robledo said.

Otis rapidly intensified in the early hours of Wednesday; the storm made landfall with sustained winds of 165 miles per hour, before dissipating as it headed inland over southern Mexico. Just a day earlier, its sustained winds had been only 65 miles per hour.

Forecasters and the Mexican authorities were shocked by the magnitude of the storm. Their models largely failed to predict that it would intensify so abruptly, creating what Eric Blake, a forecaster with the National Hurricane Center, called a “nightmare scenario” in a forecast he wrote on Tuesday night, as the storm was approaching southern Mexico and its potential danger was becoming clear.

Guerrero State has also been plagued by violence in recent years. Just this week, an armed group ambushed and killed more than a dozen law enforcement officers, including a local security secretary and a police chief, in Coyuca de Benítez.

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