As Hurricane Otis made landfall on the coast of Acapulco, Mexico, on Wednesday, it left at least 27 people dead—a record-breaking Category 5 hurricane.
Rosa Icela Rodriguez, the Mexican Security Minister, announced during a press conference on Thursday morning that four more people remain missing.
Officials in Mexico are still investigating the entire scope of Otis’s destruction, which resulted in extensive communications disruptions for locals and emergency personnel.
The power disruptions have severely hindered the ability of officials to survey or communicate the extent of Otis’ damage. However, pictures and video capture the devastation that the wind and rain caused, leaving behind sections of buildings with broken windows and damaged infrastructure, as well as roads covered in several feet of water.
Guerrero State, Mexico had more than 500,000 households and businesses lose electricity on Wednesday, according to power company CFE. Forty percent of those affected were still without service, it said.
On Wednesday, representatives of the Mexican government started flying to Acapulco to personally inspect the damage after personnel on the ground were unable to provide an estimate.
“We are going there because we do not have any communication with our colleagues who have already been there for a week doing preventive work for a tropical storm and which in 12 hours became a hurricane,” National Coordinator of Civil Protection Laura Velázquez said in an interview with local news channel Milenio TV.
Because early projections greatly understated the threat, officials and civilians had little time to prepare for the ferocity of the storm. In just 12 hours, Otis quickly strengthened from a tropical storm to a very deadly Category 5 hurricane, the biggest storm on record for the area.
Once Otis got inland, it quickly became weaker. It had faded above the southern Mexican mountains by Wednesday afternoon. The National Hurricane Center stated that the region will likely be affected by the storm’s strong rainfall through Thursday, which could result in flash flooding and mudslides.
Even though the direct threat has passed, the area is only now starting to recover.
Pictures taken in the affected area depict buildings that have been completely demolished and stacked with uprooted vegetation and trees, and windows of multiple high-rise buildings that have been blasted out. Some people now have to wade through several feet of murky water after many streets were inundated.
Video captured during the storm in one Acapulco home shows a family scrambling to find cover behind a mattress while strong winds and rain rip through their broken windows.
According to a news release from the agency, Mexican National Guard members have been working to remove downed trees, abandoned cars, and other debris that was left behind after the storm.
According to a statement from the office of Mexico’s Secretary of Infrastructure, Communications, and Transportation, Acapulco International Airport has ceased operations as it recovers from the hurricane. The organization released pictures of enormous debris mounds strewn all around the airport.
According to scientists, Otis’ quick escalation is a sign of the climate problem brought on by humans, which is a situation that is happening more frequently.
Rapid intensification is characterized by scientists as a wind speed increase of at least 35 mph in less than 24 hours, usually requiring a considerable amount of ocean heat.
Based on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the seas have absorbed almost 90% of the global warming that has occurred during the last 50 years. Furthermore, this year’s El Niño is strengthening in the Pacific, raising water temperatures even further.