People carry groceries from a looted store in Acapulco
People carry groceries from a looted store in Mexico's hurricane-hit resort city of Acapulco AFP

Residents of Mexico's hurricane-stricken resort city of Acapulco emptied shelves of looted supermarkets on Thursday and appealed for government help as they searched desperately for food and water.

Amparo Ponce, 57, guarded the precious groceries she had found in a store that was ransacked after Hurricane Otis left a trail of destruction and at least 27 dead.

"We're all going out to look for food," she said, pleading for assistance from the authorities.

Others ran through the supermarket looking for something to take home, though the shelves were mostly already stripped bare of food.

Outside, a woman said that the staff had opened the doors for people to take what they needed.

But for some residents it was already too late.

"We can't find food. All the stores are already looted," said Guillermina Morales.

Similar scenes were repeated across Acapulco.

While many residents were out looking for food and water, some helped themselves to alcohol and even televisions and other electrical goods.

People navigated the debris-strewn streets carrying toilet paper, eggs and bread.

"It's a survival instinct," said one man carrying flour to make traditional tortillas.

More than 24 hours after Otis came ashore as a scale-topping Category 5 storm, most of Acapulco was still without power and cellphone signals were patchy.

"We need support from the government or from someone because the truth is that it's very bad," said Arturo Aviles, 48, who owns a small fruit and vegetable store.

"They have not come to support us yet. We're in a difficult, complicated situation. Many people are hungry," he added.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador pledged to provide the necessary resources to help Acapulco, where aid was trickling in.

The government said that it had activated an emergency plan to bring essential supplies such as food and water.

The military was distributing 100,000 food packages and 800,000 liters of water, with more supplies on the way, a statement said.

Relief efforts were hampered by road blockages and a lack of communications.

Workers used excavators to clear roads of mud and trees on Thursday.

The storm partially destroyed many buildings, leaving gaping holes in the walls of high-rise towers.

Usually Acapulco's main avenue bustles with life with restaurants full of diners and nightclubs pumping out loud music.

But after the storm ripped through the city, the tourist strip fell silent.

"It's total chaos. It's indescribable. I've never seen something like this in my life, so destroyed, without water, electricity. The beach is a garbage dump," said Jose David Mendoza.

The 63-year-old businessman came to inspect his flooded beachside restaurant.

Chairs, tables and beer advertisements littered the floor, leaving Mendoza worried about prospects for the crucial year-end holiday season.

"It will take time to recover. All Acapulcans are dismayed by what happened," he said.

"We need immediate help," Mendoza added.

Many supermarket shelves were bare
Many supermarket shelves were bare as residents looked for food and water AFP
Hurricane Otis caused major damage as it came ashore
Hurricane Otis caused major damage as it came ashore as a scale-topping Category 5 storm AFP