Chaos and looting in Mexico's Los Cabos as electricity, water still out 3 days after Odile

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Mexico's government airlifted thousands of stranded foreign tourists out of the hurricane-ravaged resort of Los Cabos, as a weakened Odile headed over the Gulf of California Wednesday on a path toward Arizona. (Sept. 17)


Hurricane Odile blazed a trail of destruction through Mexico's Baja California Peninsula that leveled everything from ramshackle homes to big box stores and luxury hotels, leaving roads and entire neighborhoods as disaster zones Monday. (Sept. 15)

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SAN JOSE DEL CABO, Mexico — Desperate locals and tourists were in survival mode in the resort area of Los Cabos on Wednesday, with electrical and water service still out three days after Hurricane Odile made landfall as a monster Category 3 storm.

Looters stripped supermarkets of their food and other products, with some people fighting over goods. At least one supermarket decided to give away its merchandise. People pushed shopping carts full of goods.

Mexico's government continued to fly stranded tourists out of the area as the remnants of Odile drenched the northern state of Sonora and then moved into Arizona overnight.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said parts of Arizona and New Mexico could get 6 to 9 inches (15 to 23 centimeters) of rain and warned of possible flash flooding. The Tucson area was forecast to bear the brunt of the storm, but Phoenix could be lashed with rain and heavy winds, too.

To the south, newly formed Hurricane Polo was moving off Mexico's Pacific coast in the general direction of Los Cabos, although early predictions were for the center to remain offshore.

President Enrique Pena Nieto's office said the federal government was working closely with state authorities on relief efforts in the areas battered by Odile, including restoring water and electricity.

It said more than 239,000 people had their power knocked out by the storm, but predicted 95 percent of electrical service would be restored within four days.

A bridge on the highway between San Jose del Cabo and La Paz collapsed.

In Los Cabos, people helped themselves to food, water, soda and toilet paper at supermarkets and convenience stores. The highway was at times clogged by pickup trucks parked in front of stores as their drivers loaded up appliances, mattresses or patio furniture.

One market decided to give away its wares. Hundreds of people lined up to get inside for five minutes at a time and take what they could as store employees with machetes, baseball bats and air rifles tried to keep things orderly.

Natascha Ramsey, a homemaker from San Diego, sat outside the store. She came on vacation and was concerned about her child, who woke up Wednesday with a rash. She was running out of supplies.

"I just need to worry about getting food for her," Ramsey told The Associated Press. "We'll be fine, but I need formula, diapers, wipes, stuff to keep the child healthy."

When AP reporters returned later, the store had been emptied.

Long lines formed at tortilla shops and at stores selling ice as people tried to feed themselves and keep what food they had from going bad in the sweltering heat.

Lines also snaked from the couple of gas stations still working. Customers were each limited to 150 pesos' ($11) worth of fuel, about 12 liters (3 gallons).

At the Best Western near Los Cabos airport, guests filled buckets with pool water to flush their toilets.

Some tourists drove their rental cars or hired cabs to head north to La Paz, the Baja California Sur state capital that was hit with less intensity. They hoped they might have a better chance of getting out through the city's airport, but they found frustrated crowds, long waits and little information from authorities.

David Bergman of California said he and his family had been at the La Paz airport for two days.

"It's nothing but lies. We've just been lied to," Bergman said angrily. "There's almost been rioting here two times. ... we were caged like animals."

Tourism Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu said via Twitter that 5,000 travelers had been flown out since the airlift began Tuesday. Officials estimated that 30,000 travelers were stranded by the storm.

Polo, which started the day as a tropical storm, was moving up Mexico's Pacific coast for a possible brush with Los Cabos by Sunday, though its center was projected to stay offshore.

Polo was 180 miles (290 kilometers) south of Manzanillo with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph) Wednesday night. It was moving northwest at 10 mph (17 kph).

Hurricane Edouard, a Category 1 storm in the central Atlantic, was moving east farther away from land, but swells could cause dangerous surf along parts of the U.S. East Coast north of Florida.


Associated Press writer Peter Orsi in Mexico City contributed to this report.

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