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110 Die in Wake of Twin Mexican Storms; China Hit by Typhoon's 100+ mph Gusts (UPDATE: 21 Dead)


"...there is little hope now that we will find anyone alive"

A resident crying for his home collapsed by heavy rains is comforted by a Mexican soldier and Red Cross personnel in San Jeronimo, Guerrero state, Mexico on September 20, 2013. Mexico is reeling from the one-two punch of tropical storms Ingrid and Manuel, which have left a trail of destruction that damaged tens of thousands of homes, flooded towns and killed around 100 people. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

(TheBlaze/AP) — Twin storms, Manuel and Ingrid, simultaneously pounded both of Mexico's coasts a week ago and spawned huge floods and landslides across a third of the country. The official death toll grew to 110 on Sunday, Interior Secretary Miguel Osorio Chong said.

"As of today, there is little hope now that we will find anyone alive," President Enrique Pena Nieto said after touring the devastation at La Pintada, adding that the landslide covered at least 40 homes.

Half a world away the year's most powerful typhoon slammed into southern China Sunday, leaving 21 dead, local authorities said. The storm also forced hundreds of flight cancellations, shut down shipping and train lines and blew cars off the road.

The deaths occurred in Guangdong province, where Typhoon Usagi struck after veering away from the neighboring and densely populated financial hub of Hong Kong. It had earlier passed by Taiwan and the Philippines, where two deaths were reported.

The official Xinhua News Agency had earlier reported three deaths — two killed when strong winds brought down a tree ahead of the typhoon's arrival, and a third person killed by falling window glass.

Usagi — Japanese for rabbit — was classified as a severe typhoon and had sustained winds of 109 miles per hour, with gusts of up to 132 mph, when it hit land.

A Ghost Town

Survivors staying at a shelter in Acapulco recounted how a tidal wave of dirt, rocks and trees exploded through the center of town, burying families in their homes and sweeping wooden houses into the bed of the swollen river that winds past the village on its way to the Pacific.

A resident crying for his home collapsed by heavy rains is comforted by a Mexican soldier and Red Cross personnel in San Jeronimo, Guerrero state, Mexico on September 20, 2013. (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

The scene by Sunday was desolate, a ghost town where 50 people still awaited evacuation. One man remained to care for abandoned goats, pigs and chickens that seemed disoriented as they roamed about.

When the rains get too hard, the crew has to stop for fear of being buried themselves by another slide, Mendoza said.

"The fundamental problem continues to be the rain," said Ricardo de La Cruz, national director of Civil Protection. "It complicates the rescue work not only by putting residents at risk, but the military and support crews as well."

Mexican Government Corruption Claimed

All week in Mexico City, editorials and public commentary said the government had made natural disasters worse because of poor planning, lack of a prevention strategy and corruption.

"Governments aren't responsible for the occurrence of severe weather, but they are for the prevention of the effects," wrote Mexico's nonprofit Center of Investigation for Development in an online editorial criticizing a federal program to improve infrastructure and relocate communities out of dangerous flood zones. "The National Water Program had good intentions but its execution was at best poor."

Guerrero Gov. Angel Aguirre publicly confirmed that corruption and political dealings allowed housing to be built in dangerous areas where permits should have been rejected.

The storms affected 24 of Mexico's 31 states and 371 municipalities, which are the equivalent of counties. More than 58,000 people were evacuated, with 43,000 taken to shelters. Nearly 1,000 donation centers have been set up around the country, with nearly 700 tons of aid delivered so far. Nearly 800,000 people lost power across the country, though the Federal Electricity Commission said 94 percent of service had been restored as of Saturday morning.

A Super Typhoon

The storm had been a super typhoon on Saturday when it passed through the Luzon Strait separating the Philippines and Taiwan, a path likely sparing both places from the most destructive winds near its eye.

Strong waves hit the coast of Shenzhen in southern China's Guangdong province on September 22, 2013, brought on by the approaching Typhoon Usagi. Severe Typhoon Usagi barrelled towards Hong Kong on September 22, shutting down one of the world's busiest sea ports and throwing flight schedules into disarray, after killing two people in the Philippines and unleashing landslides in Taiwan. (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

In the Philippines, Usagi left at least two people dead and two others missing, while in Taiwan nine people were hurt by falling trees.

The typhoon landed near the city of Shanwei in the Chinese province of Guangdong, about 140 kilometers (87 miles) northeast of Hong Kong, and was moving west-northwest at 22 kph (14 mph), the Hong Kong Observatory said late Sunday.

Ferry services between Hong Kong and nearby Macau and outlying islands were suspended as the observatory reported winds as strong as 68 kph (42 mph) and warned that a storm surge and heavy rains could cause flooding in low-lying areas.

Police in Shanwei ordered more than 8,000 fishing boats to return to port and more than 1,200 residents were taken to temporary shelters, China's official Xinhua news agency reported.

Nuclear Power Plant a Concern

Authorities in Guangdong initiated an emergency response plan for the Daya Bay nuclear power station northeast of Hong Kong as Usagi approached, ordering four of six reactors to operate at a reduced load, Xinhua said.

In Taiwan, more than 3,300 people were evacuated from flood-prone areas and mountainous regions. Rail service was restored Sunday on a rail line that had been buried by a landslide.

Another landslide late Saturday in the southeastern hot springs resort village of Chihpen sent mud and rocks crashing through the ground floor of a resort spa, forcing the evacuation of frightened guests. The Chihpen River breached its levies upriver, turning the village's main street into a rock-strewn stream, flooding homes and damaging vehicles.

In the Philippines, two people drowned and two went missing when a passenger boat capsized in rough waters off northeastern Aurora province, the Office of Civil Defense said Saturday. Nine passengers and crew were rescued.

The typhoon set off landslides and flooded parts of six Philippine provinces, but additional casualties were not reported.

Here's an AP clip on the devastation in Mexico:

And a clip of the typhoon hitting China, via CCTV:

This story has been updated.



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