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Storm Batter Mexico, Death Toll Rises to 41

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September 17, 2013

Members of the Mexican Navy secure a flooded area in Acapulco to prevent theft and robbery. (AFP)

Acapulco, Mexico - At least 41 people have been killed and tens of thousands evacuated after Mexico was lashed by two major storms.

Hurricane Ingrid battered the northern Gulf coast, while the remnants of Tropical Storm Manuel lashed the Pacific coast, the United States National Hurricane Center said.

The storms unleashed torrential rains and led to deaths in the states of Veracruz, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Puebla and Hidalgo, national emergency services coordinator Luis Felipe Puente said.

Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from their homes as the two storms set off landslides and floods that damaged bridges, roads and homes.

In the popular Pacific resort of Acapulco at least 21 people were killed as buildings collapsed and roads were transformed into raging rivers, Guerrero state emergency services official Constantino Gonzalez said. "Unfortunately, the majority of the deaths have occurred here in Acapulco due to landslides that completely buried homes," he said.

Officials said thousands of tourists were stranded due to cancelled flights and closed highways. State-run energy firm Pemex, meanwhile, evacuated three oil platforms off the Gulf coast and halted drilling at some wells on land due to the storms.

The last time Mexico was hit by two tropical storms in the space of 24 hours was in 1958, officials said, but never before has it been struck by a hurricane and another storm at the same time.

"More than two-thirds of the national territory has been affected," Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said.

In Veracruz 12 people died when a landslide buried a bus and two nearby homes. Public school classes were cancelled there today.

Six more people died in the central states of Hidalgo and Puebla and one in the southern state of Oaxaca. Guerrero state officials also reported six deaths in a road accident.

Around 50 towns were affected in Guerrero, with almost a quarter of a million people seeing various levels of damage to their homes and shelters opening for some 20,000.

With waters rising up to one metre in some neighbourhoods, soldiers used boats to rescue about 100 people who had taken refuge on upper floors and roofs of their homes.

The flooding brought out crocodiles, complicating the rescue work, officials said, while Manuel's remnants were still producing rain.