Over 40,000 tourists have now been left stranded in Acapulco after a series of landslides cut off access roads to the Mexican holiday resort and left the airport flooded.
Last night, thousands of wet and exhausted holiday-makers queued up outside a military base hoping to catch an emergency flight out of the resort. Dream holidays quickly changed into a desperate struggle to get back home.
Two of Mexico’s largest airlines were running about two flights an hour from Acapulco’s still-flooded international airport yesterday, with priority for those with tickets, the elderly and families with young children.
Everyone else who couldn’t wait for the government’s promise to reopen the roads within two days flocked to Air Base 7 about 20 minutes north of Acapulco, where a military air bridge made up of barely more than a dozen aircraft ferried tourists to Mexico City.
The normally quiet beach-front installation was transformed into a scene from a conflict zone.
Families in shorts and sandals waited for as long as eight hours outside the gates of the base, held at bay by rifle-toting soldiers until they were allowed to drag suitcases, pet carriers and red-eyed children across the tarmac, where they jostled furiously for a chance at one of the 150 seats on the next departing Air Force Boeing 727.
Military officials said only two of the passenger planes were in service, although a few hundred people got seats on one of the five helicopters or seven cargo planes also pressed into air bridge duty.
Many told of horror stories of spending the weekend trapped by torrential rains inside their hotels, emerging to discover there was no way back home.
‘It’s probably one of the worst holidays I’ve ever been on,’ said David Jefferson Gled, a 28-year-old from Bristol, England who teaches English at a private school in Mexico City. ‘It wasn’t really a holiday, more of an incarceration.’
- Tourists airlifted from flooded Mexico resort of Acapulco after two storms hit within 24 hours (looksouthtours.wordpress.com)
- Acapulco tourists stranded; Mexico death toll 47 (nzherald.co.nz)
- Mexico’s one-two punch of storms leaves 47 dead (cbsnews.com)