'It's a madhouse!': Tourists pile into Cancun airport after hurricane hits
By Anthony Esposito
CANCUN, Mexico (Reuters) - Tourists from around the world crowded Cancun International Airport, shunning social distancing norms on Thursday, the day after the Hurricane Delta hit the Mexican beach resort, enforcing mass evacuations, hotel closings and flight cancellations.
The terminal building was filled with thousands of crowded tourists, crying babies, and even dogs barking. The screen, flanked by a long line of travelers struggling to get to a check-in counter, showed at least a dozen canceled flights.
Even after queuing for hours, many tourists were stranded.
For 28-year-old Anthony Ricci from New Jersey, an idyllic Caribbean vacation had become a nightmare.
Ricci tried to fly to the US on the Tuesday before Delta's arrival but couldn't get a flight.
His departure was changed to Thursday and he spent two days in a shelter for evacuated tourists who were unable to contact family and friends because his phone was stolen.
"I finally came here today hoping to leave, waiting in line for hours just for them to tell me their computers were down and I can't get on the plane," said Ricci. "It's a madhouse!"
Other tourists feared that the crowd could fuel the spread of coronavirus in Mexico, which has recorded nearly 83,000 deaths from COVID-19, the fourth highest in the world.
"There are too many people. Even though we wear masks, it's still not social distancing," said Houston reggaeton and hip-hop artist BBK Phat, 29.
"I don't think I'll make my flight on time because there are so many people," said Phat, who was traveling with his wife, children and sister.
Though the Yucatan Peninsula, home of Cancun, largely dodged a bullet when Delta was weakened before it went ashore, the streets were littered with fallen trees and power lines, shop windows were blown, and the city was left in the dark.
Almost as soon as the hurricane blown, soldiers, police officers and city workers began to clean up.
After shopkeeper Dolores Jasso, 52, was busy selling souvenirs to tourists returning to the beach. "We have to get started, because that's what we live on," she said.
(Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Aurora Ellis)
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