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Death toll of storms rises to 57 in Mexico

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MEXICO CITY, Sept.18 - The death toll from two storms ravaging Mexico in recent days had risen to 57 in seven states by Wednesday, government officials said.

The two tropical storms, Ingrid and Manuel, affected 254 towns nationwide, forcing 39,000 people to evacuate and causing 100 rivers to overflow, Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said.

It was the first time since 1958 that two tropical storms had hit both the country's coasts within 24 hours, local meteorologists said, adding that heavy rains would be seen in some regions across the country.

Around 40,000 tourists were stranded in the resort city of Acapulco, which lies in the hardest-hit southwestern state of Guerrero, after flooding and landslides blocked the airport and highways out of the city, the minister said.

Sources from the Chinese embassy in Mexico said that several Chinese citizens from Chinese-funded enterprises were stuck in a hotel of Acapulco and waited for evacuation, but with no risk to lives.

The minister said it would still take two or three days to reopen the two highways between Mexico City and Acapulco after the dirt on the roads is cleaned up.

Rescue efforts are carried out in full swing.

Military aircraft was dispatched to evacuate stranded tourists and the first military flight with aid supplies landed in Acapulco late Monday, military officials said.

Only two of the passenger planes were in service, and a few passengers got seats on one of the five helicopters or seven cargo planes, which are used in emergency duty, military official added.

Two of Mexico's largest airlines, Aeromexico and Interjet, are running flights to Mexico City from the still-swamped airport in Acapulco. About 600 people have been flown out so far, Transport Minister Gerardo Ruiz Esparza said.

Aeromexico said it planned to fly 2,000 people out by Wednesday.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto visited Acapulco Monday after leading his first Independence Day parade.

The government allocated 230 million pesos (about 18.5 million U.S. dollars) as rescue fund to cope with the storm disaster.
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