MEXICO CITY – Thousands of vehicles were stranded for more than 12 hours overnight on a highway west of Mexico City when a hailstorm hit the mountain area that divides the capital from the Valley of Toluca, federal officials said Thursday.
One of the lanes of the Mexico City-Toluca highway reopened on Thursday morning, Deputy Communications and Transportation Secretary Raul Murrieta said.
Traffic is moving slowly due to the heavy Holy Week traffic, but workers are trying to clean up the road, the transportation official, who is in charge of infrastructure, said.
“While it is true that the road is open, it’s also true that chunks of snow, the hail, is there and we have to remove it,” Murrieta said.
The state road and the federal highway that link Mexico City to Toluca are more than 60 kilometers (37 miles) long, with the majority of the road winding through a mountain area.
Thousands of people spent the night on the highway in their vehicles, arriving at their destinations hours later.
Blankets, food, coffee and bottled water were distributed to some of the people stranded on the highway, officials said.
The worst stretch of the road was between the toll booths and Marquesa Park, where the accumulated hail reached up to 40 centimeters (16 inches).
“It was awful, we were more than 12 hours late in reaching Toluca on a trip that normally takes no more than an hour,” Marco Millan, who was stranded on the road, told Efe.
Stranded motorists and passengers were getting desperate, feeling frustrated and having health problems, Millan said, adding that more than 50 vehicles experienced mechanical breakdowns.
Few highway workers were on hand to move the hail off the road, the motorist said.
Toluca is the capital of Mexico state, which surrounds the Federal District and forms part of the Mexico City metropolitan area.
Many Mexico City workers live in Toluca and commute to their jobs in the capital.
Television networks broadcast images on Wednesday night of vehicles stranded on the Mexico City-Toluca highway and covered in snow and ice.
The hailstorm caused damage and flooding in different sections of Mexico City, affecting some of the markets.