Homes destroyed, dozens injured as hurricane Odile hits Mexico



Hurricane Odile has destroyed wooden homes, flooded hotels and shut down airports in Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, sparking looting, marooning thousands of tourists and injuring some 135 people.

The injured were treated for everything from panic attacks to cuts. But authorities said the powerful storm had not caused any major casualties despite causing heavy material damage in Los Cabos resort towns.

Hundreds of looters ransacked supermarkets and electronic stores, snatching rice, water, toilet paper, alcohol, televisions, and fans.

More than 1000 troops were deployed to the disaster area, which was without electricity and running water. Scores of wood-plank and tin-roof homes were levelled in one neighbourhood.

“I’m taking water for the children and food for the baby. You never know what can happen tomorrow,” Osvaldo Lopez, 41, said as he left a convenience store.

Some 24,000 foreigners and 6000 Mexican beachgoers, meanwhile, were looking at a second night in hotels that served as temporary shelters.

Authorities scrambled to reopen the international airports in Los Cabos and La Paz to send in military planes to rescue the tourists.

But National Civil Protection co-ordinator Luis Felipe Puente said the first planes would only leave Tuesday because of the damage caused by strong winds at the terminals.

“We don’t have optimal conditions to begin flights in the next few hours,” he told a news conference, adding that sick tourists and the elderly would be the first to be airlifted.

The hurricane smashed hotel windows, flooded rooms and sent palm trees flying into swimming pools.

“I’m disappointed about my vacation, but above all my heart aches for the people from here who lost everything,” said Tifani Brown, a 34-year-old American tourist who had arrived Sunday from California.

“It’s one thing to see hurricanes on TV. It’s another to live them,” she said.

Some tourists said they spent the night at the Los Cabos airport’s luggage room after flights were cancelled on Sunday. They were now looking at a night in a hotel near the airport.

“When the hurricane hit, the light went out in the airport, windows shattered, the ceiling fell and some computers exploded,” said Mariana Perez, a 26-year-old Mexican engineer showing a video of the incident on her phone.

Odile crashed ashore Sunday, packing winds of 205km/h, tearing down trees and power lines and ripping roofs off homes.

It was listed as category three hurricane in the five-scale Saffir-Simpson scale, but weakened to a category one Monday as winds slowed to 130km/h.

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