Acapulco residents are looting businesses en masse – robbing stores of items like electronics and homeware items just a day after Hurricane Otis devastated the resort town in Mexico.
Survivors of the Category 5 storm were seen carrying bottled water, toilet paper and food out of multiple department stores, including Sam’s Club and Walmart, as the National Guard simply looked on.
But shocking footage shows some making the most of the devastation by stealing electronic goods and homeware appliances – despite being left without power.
Residents in the coastal city, once known for its beachside glamour, have become increasingly worried that the government is focusing the city’s infrastructure – the economic engine – instead of providing help to the neediest.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador indicated during his daily press briefing Friday there are no plans to put a curfew into place.
‘We have to get Acapulco back on its feet as soon as possible, until the situation is normalized,’ López Obrador said.
Residents loot a supermarket in Acapulco, Mexico, on Thursday, just a day after Hurricane Otis made landfall in the resort city, where 1 million people were left without electricity and water. The storm killed 27 people across the state of Guerrero
Locals used torches as a guide through the carnage at a supermarket in Acapulco, Mexico
People collect groceries in a looted supermarket as they desperately take supplies
A Mexican National Guard soldier tries to stop people who are carrying away items like toilet paper and beans that they took from a store inside a shopping mall on Thursday, a day after Hurricane Otis ripped through Acapulco, Mexico
Brown floodwaters extended for miles in some areas. Many residents were taking basic items from stores to survive
Hurricane Otis made landfall in the state of Guerrero on Wednesday with winds that topped 165 miles per hour, making it the strongest on record for a landfalling Eastern Pacific tropical cyclone.
The storm killed 27 people across the state and at least four people, including three Navy personnel, are still missing.
Flora Contreras Santos, a housewife from a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of the city, sought help in looking for a 3-year-old girl who was swept away from her mother in a mudslide. She went from soldier to soldier trying to interest any one of them in the tragedy that occurred on her street at the height of the storm.
‘The mountain came down on them. The mud took her from the mother´s arms,’ Contreras said. ‘We need help, the mother is in bad shape and we can´t find the girl
The Guerrero government said that 95 percent of business in the state were damaged by the hurricane, leaving police and national guardsmen outnumbered as residents raided the stores.
Ricardo Díaz, a self-employed laborer, stood Thursday with two fistfuls of live chickens he clutched by their legs. A chicken company had given him the chickens, Díaz said.
Residents survey the destruction around Acapulco’s Diamond Zone on Friday after it was slammed by Hurricane Otis, which carried winds that topped 165 miles per hour
Satellite images shows before (top) and after (bottom) pictures of Arena GNP Seguros Stadium in Acapulco after Hurricane Otis made landfall Wednesday as a Category 5 storm
Satellite overview of the Krystal Hotel and beachfront before (top) and after (bottom) Hurricane Otis made landfall in the resort city of Acapulco
A woman nearby pushed an office chair loaded with artificial Christmas wreaths and toilet paper through the streets. Díaz looked on in dismay as people carried armfuls of goods out of a damaged store.
‘They´re going to close these stores and that hurts Acapulco,’ Díaz said.
Acapulco´s police chief Luis Enrique Vázquez Rodríguez said Thursday they could do little to stop people from emptying local stores or speed up traffic caused by mud and fallen trees, which has left much of the city paralyzed.
‘We don´t have the capacity to stop looting because there´s so many people,’ he said. ‘This is a completely extraordinary situation.’
The Category 5 storm brought floods and sustained winds of 165 miles per hour, with damage seen to balconies and roofs in the video
Due to the intense winds that Otis brought with it, it is now on record as the strongest landfalling Eastern Pacific tropical cyclone
Aerial footage of Hurricane Otis’ destruction showed the beach resort waterfront completely ruined, with debris littering resorts and apartment buildings alike.
Entire walls of beachside high rises were ripped clean off. Hundreds of thousands of homes remained without electricity. People lacking even the most basic resources were emptying stores out of everything from food to toilet paper.
Miguel Angel Fong, president of the Mexican Hotel Association told the Associated Press that 80 percent of the city’s hotels were damaged.
Guerrero Governor Evelyn Salgado said that free transportation would be provided for tourists looking to leave Acapulco.
Acapulco International Airport reopened Friday morning and Aeroméxico, Viva Aerobus and Volaris were providing service to fly tourists to Mexico City.
However, dozens of desperate tourists, tired of waiting for buses out of the city, walked along the narrow sidewalks through the long car tunnel under the mountain dividing the port from the rest of the city. They pulled suitcases and some carried children.
Debris litters a beach on Thursday, a day after Hurricane Otis ripped through Acapulco, Mexico, as a Category 5 storm. At least 80 percent of the city’s hotels were damaged
The disastrous weather front was centered about 55 miles south-southeast of Acapulco, and its ruinous effects were also moving north-northwest at 9 miles per hour
Many of the once-sleek beachfront hotels in Acapulco looked like toothless, shattered hulks a day after the Category 5 storm made landfall Wednesday
The disastrous weather front was centered about 55 miles south-southeast of Acapulco, and its ruinous effects were also moving north-northwest at 9 mph.
Otis turned from mild to monster in record time, and scientists were struggling to figure out how and why they didn´t see it coming.
Brown floodwaters extended for miles in some areas. Trees were toppled and power lines were left lying in brown floodwaters that extended for miles.
Resulting destruction delayed a comprehensive response by the government, which was still assessing the damage along Mexico’s Pacific coast, and made residents desperate.
Many of the once-sleek beachfront hotels in Acapulco looked like toothless, shattered hulks a day after the Category 5 storm blew out hundreds – and possibly thousands – of windows.
While some 10,000 military troops were deployed to the area, they lacked the tools to clean tons of mud and fallen trees from the streets.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador toured an area of the city on Thursday and said that Otis toppled every power-line pole in the region.
This has left most of the city’s one million residents without electricity, and the municipal water system was also shut down.
The President said: ‘The people sheltered, protected themselves and that’s why fortunately there weren’t more tragedies, loss of human life.’
A woman is helped across a highway blocked by a landslide triggered by Hurricane Otis, near Acapulco
Tourism infrastructure on the beach lays in shambles after Hurricane Otis made landfall
Many residents were taking basic items from stores to survive. Others left with pricier goods, in widespread rampages through the area’s stores
The early images and accounts were of extensive devastation, toppled trees and power lines lying in brown floodwaters that extended for miles
A damaged car lays on a street divider in Acapulco, Mexico, on Thursday
People carry away a mattress, a television monitor and a bicycle from a store at a shopping mall in the Mexican coastal city of Acapulco
One victim is a solider who died after a wall inside his home collapsed on him, the president said.
Juan Pablo López, 26, had been talking to his wife when their call was cut off early Wednesday as Otis made landfall.
She had returned to Acapulco to be with her family and give birth to their son a month ago. Lopez was at home in Cancun.
With no information coming in, he created an online chat with friends and family from and invited friends who has emigrated to the U.S. to add fellow locals.
He said: ‘I’m very worried for my newborn son. We started to cross-reference information, to share what we found, almost like a WhatApp newspaper.’
A damaged car sits under a fallen tree and utility pole on a road next to Acapulco International Airport
Forecasters and meteorologists are baffled at how they did not see Otis’ catastrophic path coming
A woman walks carries a mirror looted from a furniture store on Wednesday after the storm made landfall
It took nearly all day Wednesday for authorities to partially reopen the main highway connecting Acapulco to the state capital Chilpancingo and Mexico City
Hundreds of trucks from the government electricity company arrived in Acapulco early Wednesday, but seemed at a loss as to how to restore power.
Forecasters and meteorologists are baffled at how they did not see Otis’ catastrophic path coming.
The city was warned it would just be a tropical storm, but the usually-reliable computer models failed to predict its explosive intensification.
University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy said: ‘It’s one thing to have a Category 5 hurricane make landfall somewhere when you’re expecting it.
‘But to have it happen when you’re not expecting anything to happen is truly a nightmare.’
MIT atmospheric sciences professor and hurricane expert Kerry Emanuel said that ‘the models completely blew it.’
McNoldy said there may be a mystery ingredient that scientists just don’t know right now, but water is key.
The surface waters off the Mexican coast were warm but ‘not crazy warm,’ said University at Albany atmospheric scientist Kristen Corbosiero. Bennan and McNoldy said those waters were maybe 1 or 2 degrees above normal.
Below that, the water was much hotter than usual ‘and there’s just a ton of fuel out there right now,’ McNoldy said.
Still, the storm didn’t linger and feed on that, which would be expected in rapid intensification, Brennan added.
Jakob Sauczuk was staying with a group of friends at a beachfront hotel when Otis hit. ‘We laid down on the floor, and some between beds.’
A looter carries goods stolen from a supermarket as residents deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Otis
Bottled drinking water was whipped off the shelves which appeared to have been raided
People were seen filling up bags and taking whatever was left, walking through puddles of water to access supplies
Destroyed goods were strewn across the floor of a store following the destructive weather event
A man collects groceries in a looted supermarket which appears to be in total disarray
People leave with goods after looting a local supermarket in the aftermath of Hurricane Otis
A woman leaves with bags of diapers from an Acapulco supermarket, just one of many that have been ransacked by desperate residents awaiting for the government to respond
Pablo Navarro, an auto parts worker who was lodged in temporary accommodations at a beachfront hotel, thought he might die in his 13th story hotel room.
‘I took shelter in the bathroom, and thankfully the door held,’ said Navarro. ‘But there were some room where the wind blew out the windows and the doors.’
It took nearly all day Wednesday for authorities to partially reopen the main highway connecting Acapulco to the state capital Chilpancingo and Mexico City.
The vital ground link allowed dozens of emergency vehicles, personnel and trucks carrying supplies to reach the battered port.
Acapulco is at the foot of steep mountains – where luxury homes and slums alike cover the hillsides with views of the Pacific Ocean.
Once drawing Hollywood stars for its nightlife, sport fishing and cliff diving shows, the port has in recent years fallen victim to competing organized crime groups that have sunk the city into violence.
This has in turn driven many international tourists to the Caribbean waters of Cancun and the Riviera Maya or beaches farther down the Pacific coast in the state of Oaxaca.
López Obrador noted that Otis was a stronger hurricane than Pauline, which hit Acapulco in 1997, destroying swaths of the city and killing more than 300 people.