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Acapulco: Slow Acapulco recovery after hurricane fans fears over livelihoods

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ACAPULCO: One month since Hurricane Otis devastated Acapulco, fears for the local economy stalk the Mexican beach resort with businesses saying efforts to repair the damage have been too slow to save a vital part of the tourist season: December.
Otis, the strongest hurricane to ever hit Mexico’s Pacific coast, hammered Acapulco in the early hours of Oct.25, killing at least 50 people, causing billions of dollars in damage, and sparking widespread looting.
Residents still searching for loved ones say the official death toll is likely significantly higher. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has rejected unconfirmed media reports suggesting fatalities may have gone well past 300.
Lopez Obrador has launched a $3.4 billion recovery plan and pledged to get Acapulco back on its feet quickly, but local businesses say time is fast running out for this year.
“Acapulco lives off just three seasons: December, which is the biggest for us, Easter, and a bit of summer. December is the most hotly anticipated and we’re not going to be up and running,” said Jesus Zamora, head of infrastructure for a local tourism body.
“By the December season we won’t even have 50% of hotels running, so even if we wanted to have more tourists, we couldn’t host them,” he added.
Business groups have estimated the damage at around $16 billion in Acapulco, which is the biggest city in Guerrero, one of Mexico’s poorest states.
The hurricane battered Acapulco’s airport, and international flights are not due to resume until next year. Some business leaders fear the city will not recover until 2025.
“People who work on social events, beach weddings and conventions have been unemployed since that day,” said Roberto Buenfil, who works for a company organizing events. “Everything there was for these last months of the year is no longer happening.”
Security forces are still struggling to clean up the rubbish engulfing some areas. Some 221,000 tons of trash have been collected so far.
Trash has been collected faster from central areas with hotels than in outlying neighborhoods like Renacimiento and Emiliano Zapata where the smell of rotting garbage has grown as it piles up, local residents say.



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