Valdosta Daily Times

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September 16, 2013

Death toll rises as tropical storm, hurricane batter Mexico

ACAPULCO, Mexico — Tropical Storm Manuel drenched Mexico’s southwestern Pacific shoulder Sunday and Hurricane Ingrid closed in on the country’s Gulf coast, as heavy rains and landslides caused at least 21 deaths and led authorities to evacuate thousands.

Stormy conditions prompted some communities in affected states to cancel Independence Day celebrations planned for Sunday and Monday.

Manuel began to weaken as soon as it made landfall near the port of Manzanillo in the afternoon and it was downgraded to a tropical depression late Sunday, but the U.S. National Hurricane Center warned that its heavy rains still could cause flash floods and mudslides. The storm was expected to dissipate Monday.

Early Friday evening, officials in four states reported a total of 24 people killed by the storms, but federal Civil Protection Coordinator Luis Felipe Puente later said 21 deaths had been confirmed.

In the southern coastal state of Guerrero, state authorities listed 18 deaths from landslides, drowning, a truck crash and a fallen wall, while authorities reported three deaths in Puebla, two in Oaxaca and one in Hidalgo. Puente said the federal government had 14 confirmed deaths in Guerrero, three in Hidalgo, three in Puebla and one in Oaxaca.

The rains caused some rivers to overflow in Guerrero, damaging hundreds of homes and disrupting communications for several hours.

Manuel had maximum sustained winds of about 35 mph (55 kph) late Sunday and was moving to the northwest at 8 mph (13 kph) late Sunday. It was about 70 miles (110 kilometers) northwest of Manzanillo.

Manuel was expected to dump 10 to 15 inches of rain over parts of Guerrero and Michoacan state, with maximums of 25 inches possible in some isolated areas. Rains of 5 to 10 inches were possible in the states of Colima, Jalisco and Nayarit. Authorities said the rains would present a dangerous threat in mountains, where flash floods and mudslides were possible.

Ingrid also was expected to bring very heavy rains. It had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph) late Sunday and was centered about 110 miles (175 kilometers) northeast of the port city of Tampico as it moved west-northwest at 6 mph (9 kph).  A hurricane warning was in effect from Cabo Rojo to La Pesca.

The hurricane center said Ingrid, the second hurricane of the Atlantic storm season, could reach the mainland by Monday morning, most likely along Tamaulipas state’s lightly populated coast north of Tampico.

In Tamaulipas, the state government said in a statement that Independence Day festivities were cancelled in Tampico, Madero and Altamira. The Sept. 15 and 16 celebrations commemorate Mexico’s battle of independence from Spain.

Officials in the Gulf state of Veracruz began evacuating coastal residents Friday night, and civil protection authorities said more than 6,600 people had been moved to shelters or the homes of family and friends.

More than 1,000 homes in Veracruz state had been affected by the storm to varying degrees, and 20 highways and 12 bridges had damage, the state’s civil protection authority said. A bridge collapsed near the northern Veracruz city of Misantla on Friday, cutting off the area from the state capital, Xalapa.

A week ago, 13 people died in the state when a landslide buried their homes in heavy rains spawned by Tropical Depression Fernand.

Officials in Tamaulipas said 700 people had been evacuated from coastal communities.

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