Seventeen people, most with COVID-19, die in flooding of Mexican hospital

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -Severe flooding led to the deaths of 17 people, most of whom had COVID-19, at a hospital in the central Mexican state of Hidalgo after torrential rains caused the River Tula to burst its banks, authorities said on Tuesday.

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.

Hidalgo Governor Omar Fayad told local media that 15 or 16 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.

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.

(Reporting by Sharay Angulo, Lizbeth Diaz and Miguel Angel Gutierrez; Editing by Richard Chang and Grant McCool)

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