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Published on : Friday, September 20, 2013
All the stranded tourists were trying to flee out of the Mexican resort city of Acapulco after the tropical storm washed out bridges, buried roads beneath mudslides and left the popular oceanfront destination isolated.
With Acapulco’s airport closed, Mexican airlines Aeromexico and Interjet were enlisted along with military aircraft to airlift tourists from Acapulco to Mexico City, where they could get flights home, according to Vanessa Calva, a spokeswoman for the Mexican Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Mexican officials said roughly 10,000 travelers had been airlifted out of Acapulco on 100 flights, a fraction of the estimated 40,000 to 60,000 visitors who had been left stranded.
Mexico’s Tourism Ministry set up a special phone number for tourists to call. Calva said that Mexico’s secretary of tourism, Claudia Ruiz Massieu, met with representatives of the hotel industry, who were offering stranded travelers discounts or free stays. And the U.S. Embassy in Mexico said that its consular agent in Acapulco was helping tourists from the U.S. make new travel arrangements.
But nerves were growing frayed, with some travelers spending the night on the road near a military base waiting for their turn to board aircraft that would ferry them out of the storm-battered city, the Associated Press reported. Some angrily prevented trucks from driving into the base, thinking the vehicles were carrying people who were trying to bypass the line and go straight to the departing planes.
The Fairmont hotel chain said in a statement earlier this week that it had limited services at two of its properties in Acapulco, The Fairmont Acapulco Princess and The Fairmont Pierre Marques. The hotel chain also was allowing guests to change their travel dates or cancel their bookings without a penalty.
Tropical Storm Manuel, which struck Sunday, and Tropical Storm Ingrid, which battered Mexico’s Gulf coast, left at least 80 people dead and forced the evacuation of hundreds fleeing flooded towns and villages. (Ingrid was a hurricane offshore but made landfall as a tropical storm.) In Acapulco, where bridges were underwater and roads blocked, cargo ships were being contracted to ferry food into the town.
Mexicans have responded to the disaster by donating everything from cash to food and setting up collection centers across the country. Some experts said the situation reflects Mexico’s ability to respond to crises and a lack of preparation.
Tags: airlift, associated press, board aircraft, calva, consular agent, embassy in mexico, embassy in washington, fairmont acapulco princess, Hotel Industry, interjet, mexican airlines, mexican embassy, new travel