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Looting hits Mexico's Acapulco as floods squeeze supplies

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Looting broke out in the flooded Mexican beach resort of Acapulco as the government on Wednesday struggled to reach tens of thousands of people cut off by some of the worst storm damage in decades.

People carry looted goods as they walk through a flooded street in Acapulco September 18, 2013. REUTERS-Jacobo Garcia

Stores were ransacked by looters who carried off everything from televisions to Christmas decorations, after floodwaters wreaked havoc in the Pacific port that has borne the brunt of torrential rains that have killed at least 57 people across Mexico.

Tens of thousands of people have been trapped in the aftermath of two tropical storms that hammered vast swathes of Mexico. More than 1 million people have been affected, and Acapulco's airport terminal was under water.

Shops were plundered in the upscale neighborhood of Diamante, home to luxury hotels and plush apartments, where dozens of cars were ruined by muddy brown floodwaters. Marines were posted outside stores to prevent further theft.

People carry looted goods as they walk through a flooded street in Acapulco September 18, 2013. REUTERS-Jacobo Garcia

"Unfortunately, it wasn't looting from need of food, it was stealing for stealing's sake," said Mariberta Medina, head of a local hoteliers' association. "They even stole Halloween and Christmas decorations and an outboard motor."

The rains were spawned by two tropical storms, Ingrid and Manuel, that converged on Mexico from the Pacific and the Gulf, triggering flash floods that washed away homes and caused landslides in eastern Mexico.

Manuel strengthened to a tropical storm again on the Pacific coast on Wednesday, moving northwest toward the Baja California peninsula, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Meanwhile, another area of low pressure over Mexico's Yucatan peninsula had a 70 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours and it was likely to dump more heavy rains across an area already hit by floods and mudslides.

State oil monopoly Pemex evacuated three oil platforms and halted drilling at some wells. A Pemex official said its refining operations had not been affected and that the company had seven days worth of inventory.

The transport ministry said all export terminals were open.

Since the weekend, the rains have pummeled the states of Veracruz, Guerrero, Puebla, Hidalgo, Michoacan and Oaxaca, according to regional emergency services.

Landslides have buried homes and a bus in the eastern state of Veracruz. Thousands were evacuated from flooded areas, some by helicopter, and taken to shelters.

Acapulco struggled to dig out of a three-day downpour which has submerged vast areas of city of 750,000 people, choked its palm-lined streets with mud, and stranded some 40,000 visitors.

Food and bottled water were scarce, as was cash because power outages knocked out bank machines.

"We waited for more than hour to get into a shop and only managed to get instant soup, some tins of tuna and two cartons of milk," said Clemencia Santana Garcia, 45, who hawks goods on Acapulco's beaches. "This is going to get ugly."

President Enrique Pena Nieto ordered a house-by-house check on people's safety in Guerrero and the government said it had 6.3 billion pesos ($490 million) in emergency funds available.

People sit outside their houses to prevent looters from entering their homes in Acapulco September 17, 2013. REUTERS-Jacobo Garcia
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