Hurricane Lane slaims into Mexican coast, 2 dead
CULIACAN, Mexico, Sep 17 (Reuters) Powerful Hurricane Lane thrashed western Mexico, threatening tens of thousands of people with flash floods and causing a second death on the Pacific coast.
Two thousand people in the state of Sinaloa rushed to evacuation shelters as the storm slammed into a low-lying coastal area between the city of Culiacan and the tourist resort of Mazatlan yesterday.
Lane arrived as a dangerous Category 3 hurricane but weakened as it moved inland, and the U.S. National Hurricane Center downgraded it to a Category 1 storm with top sustained winds near 145 kph.
Local authorities were concerned about flooding and landslides from heavy rain.
''We are very worried because it is not only coming with high winds but with an impressive amount of rain,'' Culiacan Mayor Aaron Irizar Lopez told Mexican radio.
He said between 40,000 and 50,000 people in Sinaloa who lived near rivers and streams might be at risk. Many of the state's reservoirs were in danger of overflowing, he said.
One man died in the village of Pueblos Unidos when he was knocked over by fierce winds, police said. Lane earlier killed a 7-year-old boy by triggering a rockfall in Acapulco.
Fifty people, many of them children, took shelter in a local government building in a park in Culiacan because their poorly built homes might not stand up to the weather.
''My shack is just made of planks,'' said Trinidad Garcia, 65. ''They came to take us out of the neighborhood today because water was coming in,'' she said.
BAJA RELIEVED The storm had been expected to move up through the Sea of Cortez and make landfall farther north today but it swung suddenly to the east and crashed into the coastline.
Tourists and residents in the exclusive beach resort of Los Cabos at the tip of the Baja California peninsula breathed a sigh of relief as it escaped damage from a hurricane for the second time in two weeks.
Jet skis and deep-sea fishing boats ventured back out into the ocean at Los Cabos, a popular destination with U.S.
vacationers for fishing and golf.
''I feel very, very lucky. It's the second hurricane that has missed us in a month,'' said Guillermo Alvarez, a real estate salesman.
Some tourists were upset at missing the chance to see Mother Nature in all her power.
''We were hoping it would come this way because we wanted to stay on and watch,'' said vacationer Steve Farley from Phoenix.
Also yesterday, Tropical Storm Miriam formed southwest of the peninsula, although it was not expected to make landfall.
Extending south from the U.S. state of California, the peninsula is still reeling from Hurricane John, which killed at least three people when it struck there earlier this month.
Los Cabos, made up of the two towns of Cabo San Jose and Cabo San Lucas, sent thousands of tourists packing two weeks ago as Hurricane John approached, but it had a narrow escape.
Reuters PDS VP0725