More Rain On The Way For Stranded Acapulco Tourists

On 'Morning Edition': Host Renee Montagne talks with the AP's Michael Weissenstein

Renee Montagne talks to Michael Weissenstein, of The Associated Press, about the deadly flooding and landslides caused by two tropical storms that hit Mexico this week. Some of the worst damage is around the resort town of Acapulco, where tens of thousands of tourists are stranded.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

An unusual double whammy hit Mexico this week, with hurricanes slamming into both coasts, Ingrid in the east and Manuel in the west. More than 80 people have died amid mudslides and flooding. Some of the worst damage has been along the Pacific coast around the famous resort town of Acapulco, where tens of thousands of tourists have been stranded. And it looks like more rain is on the way.

Associated Press reporter Michael Weissenstein is on the line from Acapulco. Thank you for joining us.

MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN: Sure. Hi. Good morning.

MONTAGNE: What has the scene been there over the last day or so?

WEISSENSTEIN: It's been, in some places, real chaos, particularly outside the two airports where tourists are trying to get home, because the highway back to Mexico City and the rest of Mexico has been cut. The only way back is to jump on either a commercial or a military flight out of Acapulco. And there's maybe 30,000 people still trying to get out, and only two or three fights an hour. So it's a desperate and angry scene outside those two airports.

MONTAGNE: We're hearing about remote areas along the coast and in the mountains of, you know, people living there. What are you hearing?

WEISSENSTEIN: There's been sort of unexpected, very serious news from deep in the mountains - a remote area that, even in normal conditions, would be many hours from here - has been completely cut off by flooding and landslides. There could be as many as 58 people missing and presumed dead in the little village of La Pintada, which is hours north of Acapulco.

MONTAGNE: And there's more bad weather coming, right, on the west coast?

WEISSENSTEIN: That's right. Manuel is a hurricane again, and has already set off some heavy rain and some evacuations in Sinaloa, which is to the north, along the Pacific coast.

MONTAGNE: And there's another thing for Acapulco: Its reputation as a tourist destination, as a glamorous place, has suffered in recent years because of drug crime. What do these storms mean for the economy? Is it one more blow?

WEISSENSTEIN: It's definitely a short and midterm blow to the city. I mean, there are thousands of infuriated tourists who are saying that they want to get out and they never want to come back. But also, tourism here has proved fairly resilient. You know, Mexican tourism, local tourism has kept Acapulco fairly busy, even with the drop off in visitors from overseas.

But the damage to the highways that were bringing a lot of those people here - that connect Acapulco to Mexico City - is pretty unbelievable. It's actually been completely smashed. So even the logistics, when this is over, it will still be very hard to come relatively quickly to Acapulco from Mexico City for a weekend, like people used to.

MONTAGNE: Speaking to us from Acapulco, Mexico, that's Associated Press reporter Michael Weissenstein. He's been covering the tropical storms from Mexico's Pacific coast. Thank you very much for joining us.

WEISSENSTEIN: Thank you.

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