Hurricane Otis, the strongest storm on record to hit Mexico’s Pacific coast, has left at least 43 people dead and 36 missing in the state of Guerrero, according to the latest official figures. The Category 5 hurricane, which made landfall near Acapulco early Wednesday morning with winds of 165 mph, caused widespread damage and knocked out all communication systems in the area.
The governor of Guerrero, Evelyn Salgado, said on X that the death toll could rise as rescue workers continue to search for survivors under the rubble and debris. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador denied allegations that his opponents are trying to inflate the toll to damage him politically and said his government is doing everything possible to help the affected people.
In Acapulco, a popular tourist destination that is home to about 800,000 people, many families are still waiting for news from their loved ones who were on boats when the storm hit. Some of them were fishermen who were trying to protect their livelihoods, while others were yacht captains who were ordered by their owners to stay on board.
The hurricane also destroyed homes, businesses, roads and bridges in Acapulco and other parts of Guerrero. The national electric company reported that power has been restored to 58% of homes and businesses in Acapulco, and water tankers are distributing water to outlying neighborhoods. The military and volunteers are working to clear the streets of muck and trash. Salgado announced that the main tourist strip has been cleared of debris, but some neighborhoods remain in ruins.
Hurricane Otis was one of the most rapidly intensifying storms ever recorded in the Atlantic basin. It strengthened from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane in just 12 hours before landfall, giving little time for preparation. Scientists say that such explosive intensification is a symptom of the climate crisis, as warmer ocean waters fuel stronger storms.