Deaths as Karl hits Mexico

Two killed before hurricane weakens to tropical storm as it moves inland over Mexico's central and southeast gulf coast.

    Karl knocked down trees and caused flash floods in Veracruz as it made landfall on Friday morning [Reuters]

    Hurricane Karl has crashed onto Mexico's central Gulf coast, killing at least two people in a mudslide, before weakening to a tropical storm.

    US weather forecasters said Karl weakened four hours after coming ashore near the Mexican port city of Veracruz on Friday morning, and began moving inland.

    "Satellite images and surface observations from Mexico indicate that Karl is weakening rapidly over the high terrain," the US National Hurricane Centre said in its latest advisory.

    "Maximum sustained winds have decresased to near ... 115km per hour with higher gusts. Additional weakening is forecast, with Karl expected to weaken to a tropical depression on Saturday and dissipate over the mountains on Mexico on Sunday."

    The storm flooded roads and knocked down dozens of trees when it made landfall on Friday morning about 15km north of Veracruz.

    Part of a rain-soaked mountain collapsed on a house in the inland state of Puebla, killing a woman and a child, authorities in Puebla state said.

    Threat of floods

    Karl is expected to bring rains of up to 25cm, threatening to cause flash floods and mudslides across the central and southern Mexican gulf coast region.

    But it appeared to have spared Mexican oil operations from major damage after sweeping through the Bay of Campeche, where the bulk of Mexican oil exports are produced.

    Pemex, the state-owned oil monopoly, evacuated its platforms and closed down 14 minor wells in the Gulf of Mexico in anticipation of the storm.

    Operations were also suspended at Mexico's only nuclear power plant, which was in Karl's path, officials said.

    Hurricane season

    Karl, the 11th named storm of the season, is one of several that has formed in the Atlantic this hurricane season.

    Hurricane Igor, a category 2 storm, swirled with sustained winds of 165 kph on a course that could take it to Bermuda by Sunday.

    Hurricane Julia was located far east of Igor and posed no immediate threat to land.

    Bermuda residents stocked up on supplies and secured their homes.

    The rocky island, a tiny British overseas territory that is a hub for the global insurance industry, is one of the world's most isolated yet densely populated islands.

    The Bermuda government's emergency agency warned residents to prepare for a similar impact from Igor as the island experienced from the 2003 Hurricane Fabian, which killed four people and caused millions of dollars of damage.

    The last time so many major storms churned in the Atlantic basin at the same time was in September 1998, when there were four hurricanes, including Georges, which killed more than 600 people and caused nearly $6bn in damage.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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