Family buries sailor lost in Acapulco storm after painful wait

By Jose Luis Gonzalez

ACAPULCO, Mexico (Reuters) - After days of uncertainty, Mexican authorities turned over the body of Jose Ramiro Castro, a sailor who died aboard a tourist boat during Hurricane Otis, a Category 5 storm which hammered the Pacific resort city of Acapulco last week.

Loved ones were at last able to bury Castro on Friday afternoon in Acapulco, ten days after the record-breaking storm hit the city with severe flooding and winds of 165 miles per hour (266 kph), severing communications, devastating homes and businesses and shattering livelihoods.

Nearly 50 people are known to have died due to Otis, which struck just after midnight in the early hours of Oct. 25. Another 59 are missing, Mexican authorities say.

According to relatives, Castro and other crew members stayed on the Acarey, a well-known tourist boat that had become a fixture in the area, on the night Otis hit Acapulco. Castro stayed there to take care of the ship, relatives said.

Other crew members also died, the family said.

The late sailor's sister, Maria Jesus Castro, told Reuters that Castro had sent a video to her just after midnight, saying the sea was "getting very ugly."

"I told him to get off," she said. Looking down at his coffin, she added, "Look at where the ship is, there are no signs of the ship, and look, my love, look where he is."

The boat's owner could not immediately be reached for comment. It sank in Acapulco Bay, along with other boats.

Maria showed Reuters a video of the ship, filmed by Castro on the night it sank, which has made rounds on social media, along with photos of the vessel before the storm. In the clip, the Acarey can be seen anchored, thrashing around in turbulent waves.

She related how authorities told her that Castro's body had been admitted to a morgue in Acapulco on Oct. 27, seven days before the family was contacted. Reuters could not immediately confirm this independently.

"It's not fair that they made us wait so long," she said. "It's not fair."

(Reporting by Jose Luis Gonzalez in Acapulco; Writing by Sarah Kinosian; Editing by Matthew Lewis)