26 May 2015

Mexico and Texas hit by deadly storms

8:01 pm on 26 May 2015

At least 13 people have been killed by a tornado that hit the northern Mexico border city of Ciudad Acuna.

People survey a destroyed car in Ciudad Acuna, Mexico after a tornado ripped through the town.

People survey a destroyed car in Ciudad Acuna, Mexico after a tornado ripped through the town. Photo: AFP

Hundreds of homes have been damaged or destroyed in the city, in Coahuila state, just across the border from Del Rio, Texas.

The US state has had big floods, with at least three dead and 12 missing.

Images from Mexico showed cars and buildings badly damaged. Many people have been injured and there are fears the death toll could rise.

Coahuila Governor Ruben Moreira, on a visit to the stricken area, said 10 adults and three children had died and a baby was missing. Another 150 people had been taken to hospital, he said.

The authorities say that more than 1,000 homes have been damaged by the storm.

At one point the tornado reached a speed of 270-300km/h. Most of those who died were walking on the street when it struck, officials said.

The missing baby's child carrier was ripped from its mother's hands by a sudden gust of wind, Coahuila state Interior Secretary Victor Zamora told the AP news agency.

Ciudad Acuna Mayor Evaristo Lenin Perez said that it was the first tornado to hit Acuna since the city's foundation, more than 100 years ago.

Rescuers were searching the 750 damaged properties for more casualties.

"There are cars on top of houses, there are dead people lying in the street, it is total chaos," said local resident Maria del Rosario Ramirez, quoted by Mexican newspaper La Jornada.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto expressed his "solidarity" with the relatives of the victims, and later travelled to some of the areas affected by the storm.

He said the government would "take stock of the damage and provide all appropriate support".

Victor Zamora, Coahuila's interior secretary, said an area of about seven blocks had been "devastated" by the tornado, which struck at about 06:10 (11:10 GMT).

Civil protection officials said that eight temporary shelters had been set up for those made homeless by the disaster.

'Tsunami-like power'

In the southern US, warnings and alerts stretched from Colorado through to Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and eastern Kansas.

Twelve people were missing after flash floods struck the Blanco river in central Texas on Sunday.

Texas governor Greg Abbott said it was the worst flooding the state had seen, and that the wave of water had a "tsunami-like" power.

He has declared a state of disaster in 24 counties of the state.

In the city of San Marcos, residents were forced to evacuate as the flood waters rose after torrential rain that turned streets into fast-flowing rivers, with cars and trucks under water and people using inflatable lounge chairs to make their way down the street.

The floods damaged hundreds of homes, some of them swept off their foundations.

At least three deaths have been linked to the flooding in Texas since Saturday, the latest being a 14-year-old boy who was found with his dog in a storm drain in Dallas.

Three people are reported to have died in Oklahoma.

A tornado also damaged a block of flats in Houston over the weekend.