Thousands of tourists and locals in Mexico have taken refuge in luxury hotels, converted into shelters, after Hurricane Odile crashed into the northwest, taking down trees with powerful winds.

The "dangerous" hurricane, a category three storm on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale, packed 205km per hour winds when it made landfall near Cabo San Lucas on Sunday, according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Hurricane-force winds spread northward as the eye of the storm moved over the southern portion of the Baja California peninsula, the NHC said.

At 0600 GMT on Monday, Odile was packing winds of 195km per hour as it moved north-northwest at 28km per hour.

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Forecasters warned that heavy rains - up to 46cm in some areas - could produce life-threatening floods and mudslides.

"There was no light here, and we were completely in the dark," Wenseslao Petit, director of civil protection of Los Cabo located on the tip of the Baja California Sur peninsula, told the AFP news agency.

About 26,000 foreign tourists and another 4,000 Mexicans were staying in 18 hotels converted into temporary shelters, officials said.

"It took us by surprise. The sea is rough. I think this is going to get very ugly," Steve Clement, a surfer from Hawaii, told AFP.

About 7,000 residents were evacuated from low-lying areas and took refuge in shelters or with relatives, National Civil Protection coordinator Luis Felipe Puente told local news station Foro television.

Operations at Los Cabos International Airport have been suspended. Authorities cut power in Cabo San Lucas to prevent electrocutions, while officials said schools would close on Monday and independence day festivities would be called off.

Hundreds of troops were deployed to help the population.

Source: Agencies