Oct. 26 (UPI) -- At least 27 people have been killed after Hurricane Otis struck Mexico as a Category 5 hurricane, officials said on Thursday.
Mexican Security Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodriguez announced the death toll during a news conference, adding that four more people remained missing.
The storm slammed into the Pacific coast near Acapulco with maximum sustained winds of 165 mph, causing extensive damage to the region, cutting cellphone service, making it difficult to paint a clear picture of the extent of the damage.
Following the storm, the region was pockmarked with hundreds of damaged homes and businesses, miles of flooding and scattered debris, while power and communication outages throughout the region paralyzed the immediate efforts of first responders.
The loss of communication also prompted Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and other officials to travel to Acapulco by land Wednesday to survey the damage after the storm passed quickly.
After arriving, however, Obrador's Jeep got stuck in the mud on a major highway, forcing the president to traverse the decimated landscape on foot.
The continuing blackout left damage assessment teams unable to communicate the full extent of the disaster from the ground, officials said.
The storm broke up quickly as it passed over mountainous terrain in southern Mexico on Wednesday, but its remnants continued to pound the region with heavy rain into Thursday, causing historic downpours in Guerrero, Michoacán, Mexico state, Morelos, and Oaxaca.
Previously, forecasters called for a tropical storm to make landfall, but the system intensified into a dangerous hurricane in just 12 hours, leaving residents with little chance to evacuate, said National Coordinator of Civil Protection Laura Velazquez.
Pictures that have emerged from the region show the horizon strewn with uprooted trees, foliage, shattered windows, tattered infrastructure, roofs blown away, and miles of land and roads under water.
As many as 8,000 soldiers with the Mexican National Guard were deployed to Acapulco to assist the cleanup effort, according to Mexico's Ministry of Defense.
Meanwhile, the Acapulco International Airport temporarily suspended operations due to massive debris piles that came to rest on the grounds of the facility, although the extent of damage to the building remains uncertain.
Utility officials said more than 500,000 homes and businesses lost power during the impact, but that service had already been restored to 40% of those affected.