Max threatens earthquake-hit area of Mexico with 'torrential' rains

Photo: AFP

Hours after barreling into Mexico's Pacific coast as a Category One hurricane, Max was downgraded to a tropical storm Thursday, threatening parts of Mexico's southwest with inundating rains.

The storm, still packing maximum sustained winds of 110 kilometers (70 miles) per hour, was moving inland over southern Mexico at approximately 13 kilometers per hour, according to the US National Hurricane Center.

Situated about 130 kilometers east of Acapulco, the storm was expected to weaken to a tropical depression into the evening but posed the threat of "torrential rains" over coastal areas of the southwestern Guerrero state and neighboring Oaxaca, which is still suffering the effects of a massive earthquake last week.

Max has triggered warnings of life-threatening conditions in areas hit by the devastating 8.2 quake, which killed 96 people.

Guerrero state and western parts of Oaxaca state were forecast to receive 12.5 to 25 centimeters (five to 10 inches) of rain, with some areas receiving more than 50 centimeters.

The NHC warned rainfall could cause "life-threatening flash floods and mudslides" in the region, where some 12,000 homes had been damaged by the quake.

"Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion," the agency had warned earlier Thursday.

Local authorities have opened shelters to the population and shut down schools across the state.

Communities along a 300-mile stretch of coastline from Zihuatanejo to Punta Maldonado braced as Max strengthened from a tropical storm to hurricane force in the early hours of Thursday as it surged towards the Mexico.

Directly in its path was the tourist city of Acapulco, where persistent rain and strong winds kept vacationers away from beaches in advance of the hurricane, according to local television reports.

Fishermen and leisure boaters in Acapulco had heeded the weather warnings and taken their boats up as the storm closed in on the coast.
'Destructive waves'

Mexico's National Electricity Company said it had deployed teams near the areas in the path of the hurricane in order to be able to restore power quickly in case of cuts.

Oaxaca is still struggling to recover after it bore the brunt of the damage from the 8.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Mexico only last Thursday.

Oaxaca governor Alejandro Murat said on Monday that aid distribution following last week's quake was complicated because of the mountainous terrain.  

Max was expected to bring dangerous storm surge that will likely cause "significant" coastal flooding, accompanied by "large and destructive waves."

Meanwhile, Mexico's National Water Commission said late Wednesday that heavy rain is expected in Michoacan and Colima states on the Pacific coast.

The NHC said another tropical storm, Norma, had formed in the Pacific and was currently around 580 kilometers south of Cabo San Lucas in northwest Mexico.

Last week Hurricane Katia battered the Atlantic coast of Mexico and later blew itself out in the center of the country without causing major damage.

At the beginning of September, Tropical Storm Lidia left six people dead on its stormy passage through the state of Baja California Sur, in Mexico's northwest.

Mexico is one of the countries most vulnerable to hurricanes because of its thousands of miles of coastline on both the Atlantic and Pacific and its proximity to the hurricane belt.

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