Mexico – Hurricane Agatha Leaves 11 Dead, Many Missing in Oaxaca

The governor of the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico announced at least 11 people have died as a result of Hurricane Agatha.

Damage after Hurricane Agatha, Oaxaca, Mexico, May 2022. Photo: Bomberos Oaxaca

Hurricane Agatha weakened after it made landfall as a category 2 hurricane in La Redonda, municipality of San Pedro Pochutla in Oaxaca on 30 May 2022. Winds of 165 km/h and waves of up to 6 metres were reported on the coast of Oaxaca. Agatha is thought to be the strongest ever hurricane to make landfall in May in the eastern Pacific.

Mexico’s Comisión Nacional del Agua (CONAGUA) issued warnings for heavy rain in the states of Oaxaca, Chiapas, Campeche, Guerrero, Veracruz and Tabasco. Santa María Huatulco in Oaxaca recorded 240 mm of rain in 24 hours to 31 May, according to figures from CONAGUA. During the same period, Rosendo Salazar in Chiapas saw 90.4 mm, La Cangrejera in Veracruz 96 mm and Monclova in Campeche 90.4 mm.

The governor of Oaxaca, Alejandro Murat, announced on 31 May that 11 people are thought to have lost their lives in the storm, with a further 32 people still missing or unaccounted for. These are preliminary figures and are expected to change as the situation becomes clearer. The governor said many of the fatalities were a result of flooding or landslides.

The worst affected areas include San Juan Ozolotepec, Santiago Xanica, Santa María Huatulco, Pochutla, Asunción Tlacolulita and San Mateo Piñas. Areas of Santa Maria Tonameca municipality were flooded after the Tonameca river overflowed. Civil Protection in Oaxaca said levels of the Copalita River jumped rapidly in parts of San Miguel del Puerto municipality.

Floods, wind damage and landslides blocked several roads including the federal highway 175 which connects the Oaxaca coast with Veracruz. At least 2 bridges have been severely damaged. Damage to power infrastructure left over 200,000 people without electricity.

The remnants of Agatha moved northeast towards Veracruz state before dissipating. The US National Hurricane Center warned that remnants of Agatha are expected to produce heavy rainfall across southeastern Mexico during the next day or two. Life-threatening flash floods and mudslides are possible.

Damage after Hurricane Agatha, Oaxaca, Mexico, May 2022. Photo: Bomberos Oaxaca