Hurricane Grace devastates Mexico

Hurricane Grace killed at least eight people, including five children from the same family, as it tore through eastern Mexico

Hurricane Grace makes landfall in Mexico for second time

Hurricane Grace killed at least eight people, including five children from the same family, as it tore through eastern Mexico Saturday, causing flooding, mudslides and damage to homes and businesses.

The storm made landfall in Mexico for a second time near Tecolutla in Veracruz state as a major Category Three storm with winds of 125 miles (200 kilometers) per hour.

It later fizzled out as it moved inland over the central highlands, but not before causing widespread damage.

In the Veracruz state capital, Xalapa, streets were turned into muddy brown rivers.

(Photograph:AFP)

Mexico City drenched

Seven people died there and one more in the city of Poza Rica, Veracruz Governor told a news conference. Many homes in the region were left without electricity.

Grace dissipated as it churned inland, drenching Mexico City, but could develop into a new cyclone next week in the Pacific, according to the US National Hurricane Center.

The victims included a mother and five of her children, who were buried when a hillside collapsed on their small home.

The streets of Tecolutla, home to about 24,000 people, were littered with fallen trees, signs and roof panels.

Esteban Dominguez's beachside restaurant was reduced to rubble.

Many homes in the region were left without electricity.

Grace dissipated as it churned inland, drenching Mexico City, but could develop into a new cyclone next week in the Pacific, according to the US National Hurricane Center.

(Photograph:AFP)

Authorities on alert

The Mexican authorities remained on alert due to the threat of rivers overflowing and landslides, mainly in Veracruz.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador offered his condolences to the families of the victims. 

Nearly 8,000 civil defense members, soldiers and electricity board workers had been put on standby ready to tackle the aftermath of the storm, he said on Friday night.

Authorities in Veracruz state said they had prepared 200 storm shelters and urged residents to hunker down in safe places.

They closed most highways in Veracruz, which is crossed by numerous rivers.

(Photograph:AFP)

Flights cancelled, electricity outages

In preparation for the storm, workers along the coast boarded up windows to protect stores, fishermen brought their boats ashore and residents secured their homes after stocking up on canned food and water.

In Casitas, a small tourist town on the coast, fisherman Domingo Hernandez said the roof had been ripped off his home.

The hurricane had already lashed Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula earlier in the week, forcing thousands of tourists to hunker down in shelters but blowing through with no loss of life.

Mexico City's international airport said some flights were cancelled due to the hurricane. The Commission Federal de Electricidad (CFE) national power utility reported 565,000 electricity users were affected by outages.

(Photograph:AFP)

President urges people to go to higher ground

Before Grace hit land, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador urged people in the states of Veracruz, Puebla, San Luis Potosi, Tamaulipas and Hidalgo to get to higher ground or shelters.

Grace weakened quickly as it moved into the mountainous interior and  it was dissipating in central Mexico, with top winds of 25 mph (35 kph).

The center was about 65 miles (105 km) west-northwest of Mexico City, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

The NHC had forecast Grace would dump 6 to 12 inches of rain over eastern and central Mexico through Sunday and up to 18 inches (45 cm) in some areas.

(Photograph:AFP)

Mexico's Caribbean coast hit

Veracruz and its waters are home to several oil installations, including Pemex's port in Coatzacoalcos and its Lazaro Cardenas refinery in Minatitlan in the south. Grace hit land well to the north of these cities.

Earlier in the week, Grace pounded Mexico's Caribbean coast, downing trees and resulting in power outages for nearly 700,000 people, but without causing loss of life, authorities said.

It also doused Jamaica and Haiti with torrential rain even as the countries are still reeling from a 7.2 magnitude earthquake.

(Photograph:AFP)

Mexico prepares with military and rescue workers

Mexican officials had said preparations had been made for the hurricane's arrival, with dozens of military and rescue workers as well as staff from the national power utility, gearing up to help.

Hurricane Grace unleashed downpours and flooding over Haiti and Jamaica earlier this week.

By Thursday evening it was about 65 miles north-northwest of Campeche, with maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour (97 km per hour), moving west at 15 mph (24 kph).

(Photograph:AFP)

'Dangerous storm surge'

The hurricane had pounded Jamaica with heavy rain  after causing flooding in parts of Haiti which is scrambling to deal with a major earthquake that killed more than 1,400 people.

In Mexico, authorities closed most highways in Veracruz, which is crossed by numerous rivers.

The NHC warned that heavy rainfall in Mexico through the weekend "will result in significant flash and urban flooding as well as mudslides."

A "dangerous storm surge" would be accompanied by "large and destructive waves" near the coast, it said. 

The hurricane had reportedly passed the Riviera Maya coastline without any loss of life, according to Quintana Roo Governor Carlos Joaquin. He said electricity had been almost completely restored across the state. 

It then churned across the Gulf of Mexico, gathering strength as it headed for the mainland.

(Photograph:AFP)

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