17 patients die in flood-hit Mexican hospital

Medical staff move a patient of the IMSS Hospital in Tula de Allende, Hidalgo state, Mexico, on Sept 7, 2021.
Medical staff move a patient of the IMSS Hospital in Tula de Allende, Hidalgo state, Mexico, on Sept 7, 2021.PHOTO: AFP

MEXICO CITY (AFP, REUTERS) - At least 17 patients died after flooding hit a hospital in central Mexico and disrupted the power supply, authorities said on Tuesday (Sept 7).

The facility in the state of Hidalgo was inundated after a river overflowed following heavy rain, the government said on Twitter.

More than 40 other patients in the public hospital in the town of Tula were evacuated by emergency service workers, and an initial assessment showed about 2,000 houses had flood damage, the Mexican government said in a statement.

The hospital was flooded in a matter of minutes and a power cut disrupted oxygen treatment, said Zoe Robledo, general director of the Mexican Institute of Social Security, which operates the facility.

Forty of the 56 patients survived, he said.

Hidalgo Governor Omar Fayad told local media that at least 15 out of the 17 fatalities were Covid-19 patients. The media said the deaths occurred when flooding caused by days of rain knocked out electricity at the hospital. 

In pictures shared by Fayad on social media, desperate nurses were pushing beds out of the hospital to try to bring patients to safety. Some nurses were up to their knees in water.

Video footage also showed how patients, some of them intubated, were moved out into speedboats.

The government deployed the military as well as water and electricity board workers to deal with the fallout in Tula, which bore the brunt of heavy rains that have drenched swathes of Mexico.

Two more people died in Ecatepec, a suburb of Mexico City where flooding turned streets into rivers, officials said.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Twitter urged residents at risk to seek out shelters, areas of higher ground or to go to friends or relatives.

“A lot of rain has fallen in the Valley of Mexico and it will keep raining,” he said.