(Reuters) – Mexico’s famous beach resort of Acapulco was in chaos on Tuesday as hotels rationed food for thousands of stranded tourists and floodwaters swallowed homes and cars after some of the most damaging storms in decades killed at least 55 people across the country.
Television footage showed Acapulco’s international airport terminal waist deep in water and workers wading out to escape floods that have prevented some 40,000 visitors from leaving and blocked one of the main access routes to the city with mud.
A torrential, three-day downpour cut off several roads into the Pacific resort of 750,000 people, which was a magnet for Hollywood stars in its heyday, but had the highest murder rate in Mexico last year amid a surge in drug gang violence.
The flooding has disrupted deliveries of supplies, piling fresh misery on a city heavily dependent on tourist spending. The entrance to a main hillside tunnel into Acapulco was completely blocked with mud.
Tropical Depression Manuel had faded but was strengthening again on the Pacific coast on Tuesday, moving northwest toward the Baja California peninsula. It was expected to become a Tropical Storm again late on Tuesday or early Wednesday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
Much of Acapulco’s upscale Diamante district was flooded, and tourists were unable to take cash out of bank machines due to lack of power. Fast food outlets were also without power, and insisted on payment in cash.
“We came with just enough money for three days and now we have been here for five,” she said. “I don’t know what we’ll do if they don’t open the motorway soon.”
Some large hotels offered stranded guests a free night of accommodation. But conditions were tough.
“They’ve started to ration food here,” said Pedro de la Torre, a 53-year-old graphic designer from Mexico City who was stranded in a hotel in Acapulco. “People are starting to get annoyed. I lost two cars, total write-offs.”
Outside the hotel, guests waded to their waterlogged vehicles in the hope of recovering whatever they could.
Guerrero, which is home to Acapulco, was the hardest hit with at least 34 people killed in the state, emergency services said. Some streets in the state capital if Chilpancingo became rivers of mud and its mayor, Mario Moreno, said the city had “collapsed.”
“The hotel is no longer functioning as a business. The staff is starting to leave. They have closed the front desk, switched off the computers,” he said. “All they have done is caused panic by saying they are going to start rationing, turn off power and cut water.”
Hundreds of people lined up outside supermarkets in Acapulco waiting to buy food. Store shelves were empty in some other areas ofGuerrero state as residents stocked up and town mayors called on the government to send emergency supplies.
Officials had considered using the airfield in nearby Pie de la Cuesta to restart flights but airline officials said services started to resume from the city’s airport after rains abated.
The chaos began late last week when tropical storms Ingrid and Manuel converged from the Atlantic and the Pacific, drenching Mexico in massive rainfall that has hit around two thirds of the country, according to the interior ministry.
Though both of the storms have dissipated, rain is still falling in much of country and more than 1 million people have so far been affected by flooding.
State oil monopoly Pemex evacuated three oil platforms and halted drilling at some wells. A spokesman for the company said output and exports had not been affected.