At least 16 patients died as floodwaters inundated and cut power to a hospital in Tula de Allende, Mexico, on September 7, according to the Mexican government and the Institute of Social Security (IMSS), the public agency that operates the hospital.
Earlier, President of Mexico Andrés Manuel López Obrador said 17 people had died, but the government later revised that number downward, saying 16 people had died and an 84-year-old patient with COVID-19 was rescued alive.
The flooding in Hidalgo province was brought on by heavy rains that caused the Tula river to overflow, the government said. The more than 40 other patients were being evacuated from the hospital, it added.
In this video, the head of the National Civil Protection Coordination (CNPC), Laura Velazquez Alzua, and Director General of the IMSS, Zoe Robledo, provide an update about the emergency response from a hospital rooftop, where crews were hooking up generators to help power the hospital. Streets around the hospital remained submerged by floodwaters, and boats were being used to transport people and equipment to and from the building.
Robledo, seen in the footage wearing a blue face mask, said rescues were ongoing and that IMSS staff would be evacuated once all the surviving patients had been rescued.
The government said 10 communities in the area were affected and around 2,000 homes were damaged.
Governor of Hidalgo state Omar Fayad also traveled to Tula and said 1,000 members of Mexico’s National Guard were being deployed to support rescue and recovery operations. Several shelters were established in Tula and Tepeji del Río, an area about 10 miles south of Tula that also experienced damaging floods, Fayad said.
Earlier, staff at the hospital appealed for help on social media, posting videos that showed floodwaters inside the hospital and staff on a roof as water surrounded the building. Credit: Gobierno de Mexico via Storyful