At least 27 people have died in Mexico after a Category 5 hurricane hit Acapulco
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
The Mexican government says 27 people were killed when Hurricane Otis slammed into Acapulco early Wednesday. The scope of the city's destruction is shocking. The real toll is slowly coming to light. NPR's Eyder Peralta joins us from Acapulco. Eyder, thanks for being with us.
EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: Thank you, Scott.
SIMON: What does the government of Mexico say about the situation where you are?
PERALTA: Look, the death toll here hasn't been updated for more than a day. They are still saying that 27 people have died. And President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador seems to think that Acapulco is doing OK. Yesterday he said - and I'm going to quote him - "we were lucky. Nature and our creator protected us. Even with the fury of the hurricane, we don't have many dead."
SIMON: Eyder, is that true, based on what you've seen and heard?
PERALTA: No. I mean, this is total devastation, Scott. I mean, yesterday we were watching people siphon gas from a gas station, but people here are desperate. And I noticed Renald Rucci sitting with a big empty water jug just staring out at the bay. He spends half his time in Acapulco and half his time in Canada, and he would dock his boat at this bay. And he says that a lot of his friends stayed on the boats to look after them, and now they're gone. Let's listen.
RENALD RUCCI: My friends are gone. Quite a few of them are gone now. Yeah, and you have to be here to see it. You have to go through it. It was - I was holding on to those metal posts in my windows just to - 'cause we live above. And my dogs just were flying, and the sofa and the furniture and the fridge and - I don't know. I don't know. It was quite the experience.
PERALTA: And his two dogs, Scott, were killed in the hurricane. And as we were talking, I saw rescue crews pulling out a body out of the water. And as they came onshore, around six families rushed to the beach. They were all looking for their family members who were fishermen. The rescuers put the bodies, you know, onto the beach, and the family members were crying. They were holding handkerchiefs over their mouths because of the smell. And one man I spoke to said that he had been here every day since the hurricane, that he had seen around 20 bodies being brought out, that his nephew was still missing. There were two state detectives there, and one of them told me that yesterday alone they had found at least 50 bodies across the city. This is going to be a long process, he told me. It's going to be weeks of recovering bodies.
SIMON: And, Eyder, are people getting the help they need to recover?
PERALTA: Quite simply, they are not. The aid coming in here is very little. I'll give you one example. We went to one of the big hospitals here. And they wouldn't let us in, but we spoke to the patients and workers as they were leaving, and they describe total collapse, total chaos. They say that the roof of the eighth floor of the hospital, where the critical cases are handled - that collapsed, that there is no running water or even medicine. We spoke to family members who haven't heard from their loved ones since the hurricane. Now they're walking through the hospital, trying to find them. One hospital administrator told me that the hospital was so damaged that it's a total loss. They're worried that the diesel for the generators will run out soon and that they won't be able to stay open. So the situation here is dire, and there seems to be very few answers coming from the government.
SIMON: NPR's Eyder Peralta in Acapulco, thanks so much for being with us.
PERALTA: Thank you, Scott.
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