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Just two days ago, the beaches were thronged with picnickers, sunbathers, surfers and holidaymakers. There were hardly any vacant rooms in hotels that line the coast of Mexico's most famous resort, Acapulco. However, the city had a most unwelcome intruder, a monster in the form of hurricane Pauline, the previous day. It struck the city with devastating fury, unleashing deadly torrents that swept people, cars and boulders towards the sea. The other cities or ports along the Pacific coast of Mexico were not spared. The latest unconfirmed reports reveal that more than 100 people had lost their lives. Twice the number were reported injured. Many more went missing.

"We used to experience hurricanes before, but I don't recall a hurricane ever having caused such damage," recounted a local resident. "The hurricane sent torrents of rainwater which raged through streets yesterday. There were massive traffic jams. Before long, there was a breakdown in communication. Worse still, electricity supply was cut off. Many people were stranded. Emergency calls could not be made. There was great pandemonium. My brother-in-law and his family have been missing since the incident. I hope nothing untoward has happened to them. For the time being, my family and I had to take refuge in a relief center as our house was damaged beyond recognition. This is indeed a very sad day for the people of Mexico."

I felt sad for them too. I had come to the holiday resort for a well-earned rest, after covering the Commonwealth Games as a journalist for an international magazine. From the hotel room, I could see the havoc and chaos created by the hurricane Pauline. Floods and mudslides were rampant and damage was extensive. I was later told that mudslides from nearby hills, as deep as two meters in some places, covered nearly the whole city and the inside of most homes. cars were stacked on top of each other. Mangled stoplights hung only a meter or so above ground. even the once-glittering beaches were covered in tons of mud and debris. Rescuers used shovels to dig out bodies from the mudslides. Meanwhile, the homeless were put up in temporary shelters. They had to endure the hardship of the lack of drinking water and shortage of food. Many were given only sandwiches all day. There were not enough blankets and medicine.

Acapulco had been declared a disaster area. The beach resort had run out of gasoline, drinking water, food, clothing and many other essentials. The authorities were appealing for help from all quarters. Meanwhile, army troops were ordered into the stricken areas to restore law and order, besides helping in the rescue operations. So far, more than 4000 troops were drafted in to help. The Red Cross sent truck convoys with tons of supplies from Mexico City to Acapulco. The death toll was expected to double. Up to date, there were, however, no reports of casualties among the tourists. Many of them huddled in hotels while a few stranded ones sought refuge in emergency shelters.

Fuelled by the warm El Nino ocean currents, Pauline had powered towering waves that pounded the pristine beaches of Acapulco to a maelstrom of trash and twisted lounge chairs. All ports were closed. Even air traffic was suspended. Power was cut off along much of the coast and telephone services were irregular. By the evening, the center of Pauline was located about 180 kilometers inland. The storm was breaking up and was 'weakening' rapidly. Winds had dropped to below the hurricane level of 120 kph. However, rain continued to pound the city for two days, making rescue operations more difficult. by then, as many as 50,000 people had lost their homes. Many parts in the outskirts were inaccessible to rescue brigades.

"Our immediate concern is the lack of drinking water," said a spokesman from the municipal council. "We fear the breakout of epidemics of cholera or hepatitis as the tropical conditions encourage bacteria to multiply in the dirty water. it would take weeks for us to restore communications and electricity and water supply. Many of the victims have lost their homes permanently."

From paragraph 1 :
  1.

(a) What evidence is there to show that Acapulco was a popular holiday resort ?

(b) (i) Who was the 'unwelcome intruder' ?

      (ii) What was the impact of this 'intruder' in Acapulco ?

   

From paragraph 2 :

  2.

In the sentence 'This is indeed a very sad day ...', what does the word 'This' refer to ?

    From paragraph 3 :
  3.

(a) What havoc and chaos did the writer see from his hotel room ?

(b) Give an example of the hardship the evacuees had to face at the temporary shelters.

    From paragraph 4 :
  4.

(a) Which word means 'crowded in a limited space' ?

(b) We were told that ' ... a few stranded ones sought refuge in emergency shelters.' Who were the 'few stranded ones' ?

    From paragraph 5 :
  5.

(a) What was the main worry of the spokesman from the municipal council ?

(b) What fear did he have ?

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Answers
 

1.

(a) Its beaches were thronged with picnickers and holidaymakers two days ago.

(b) i. It was the hurricane named 'Pauline'.

     ii. It caused widespread floods and mudslides, resulting in loss o lives and properties.

 

2.

It refers to the destruction caused by the hurricane, leaving many dead, injured or missing.

 

3.

(a) He could see flood and mudslides and the damage caused.

(b) They did not have drinking water and sufficient food.

 

4.

(a) The word is 'huddled'.

(b) They were the holidaymakers who could not return to their hotels.

 

5.

(a) His main worry was the lack of drinking water.

(b) He feared the outbreak of epidemics of cholera or hepatits.

 
 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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