MEXICO: At least 17 patients have been killed after heavy rainfall brought by remnants of Hurricane Ida caused flooding at a hospital in Tula, a city in the central Mexican state of Hidalgo, officials said on Tuesday. Loss of oxygen as the power went out — the national Social Security Institute said could be the possible cause of deaths.
Rains starting on Monday afternoon in Hidalgo caused the area’s Tula River to burst its banks, flooding the General Hospital of Zone No. 5 of the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) and cutting the hospital’s power supply and disrupting vital services.
“We have, unfortunately, 17 deaths,” Governor of Hidalgo Omar Fayad told the press.
According to reports, 15 of the deceased were COVID-19 patients who relied on oxygen therapy and died because “the hospital was flooded and was left without power.”
To make it worse, power generators at the flooded hospital also failed as the power supply collapsed citywide.
When the facility was flooded, there were 104 hospital staff members and 56 patients in the building, about half of whom were infected with COVID-19.
Rescuers evacuated about 40 patients. Meanwhile, a boat transporting the state governor sank in the river.
Fayad later tweeted that he was “safe and sound”, adding that the state authorities would continue coordinating emergency operations in the affected areas.
Video recorded inside the hospital showed knee-deep water as staff frantically tried to move patients.
The army was deployed to provide assistance to rescue teams and victims dealing with the disaster.
“Such a tragic situation due to rainfall in Tula had not occurred in 40 years. We are doing everything necessary to support citizens. The most important thing is to save lives,” Fayad said on Twitter.
Fayad called on the population living near the Tula River to evacuate and go to temporary shelters, because if the rains continue, “it can get worse.”
The town’s central market was also completely flooded. In one location besides the river, a jumble of semi-trailers, buses, tanker trucks and cars lodged against each other were found being sucked by the rushing water.