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Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said Thursday that soldiers had recovered two bodies in La Pintada and continued to dig through the mud. He said that the work was difficult because water is still running down hills in the area and there is risk of more landslides.

Chong said he had a list of names of 68 missing La Pintada residents, but suggested that some may be alive and may have taken refuge in neighboring ranches or hamlets.

All the main arteries to Acapulco remained closed Thursday, including the Highway of the Sun, a major four-lane expressway that links Acapulco to Mexico City. President Enrique Pena Nieto said he was cancelling a trip to New York for the annual U.N. General Assembly because of the emergency.

Federal officials set up donation centers for storm aid Thursday, but they faced stiff questioning about why, instead of warning people more energetically about the oncoming storms, they focused on Independence celebrations and a military parade that kept dozens of aircraft and emergency vehicles in Mexico City, instead of the states where they were most needed.

Congressman Manuel Huerta of the leftist Labor Party said “the underlying issue is that the federal government bears a large part of the responsibility for this tragedy.”

Federal security spokesman Eduardo Sanchez brushed off the criticism, telling reporters that emergency “protocols were strictly followed.”

Cargo ships were contracted to supply food to Acapulco by sea but many of the city’s main tourist areas were surreally normal, with shortages of lettuce and tomatoes the only evidence of the disaster that struck over the weekend.

The situation was far worse in the city’s poorer neighborhoods and an air base on the outskirts of Acapulco, where hundreds of stranded tourists remained lined up for a third day Thursday to get seats on military aircraft were slowly ferrying people out of the resort.

Mexican officials said that more than 15,237 people had been flown out of the city on more than 100 flights by Thursday evening, out of the 40,000 to 60,000 tourists estimated to be stranded in the city.

The federal transport secretary promised in a press conference with Pena Nieto that the highway out of Acapulco would be reopened by noon Friday.


Associated Press writers Martin Duran in Culiacan, E. Eduardo Castillo, Adriana Gomez Licon and Olga R. Rodriguez in Mexico City contributed to this report.