ACAPULCO, Mexico – Flooding and landslides unleashed by Hurricane Ingrid and Tropical Storm Manuel have claimed at least a dozen lives in Mexico and sparked the evacuations of thousands of people even before the weather systems had made landfall on the country’s east and west coasts.
In the southern Pacific Coast state of Guerrero, rains unleashed by Manuel resulted in the deaths of six people when their SUV lost control on a highway headed for the tourist resort of Acapulco. Another five people died in landslides in Guerrero and Puebla states, while the collapse of a fence killed another person in Acapulco.
The eye of Manuel was churning very near Mexico’s southwest Pacific shoreline Sunday while on the other side of the country, thousands on the country’s Gulf Coast sought shelter from Ingrid amid the threat of heavy rains, dangerous flash floods and mudslides.
Manuel and Ingrid appeared set to mar several planned observances of the country’s Sept. 15 and 16 Independence Day celebrations.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Ingrid, the second hurricane of the Atlantic storm season, could reach the Mexican mainland early Monday after gathering strength over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It was packing top sustained winds of 85 mph (140 kph) as it slowly crawled toward land with little change in strength in hours.
Manuel, sustaining maximum winds of 70 mph (120 kph), was about 75 miles (120 kilometres) from the Pacific coast near the Mexican port city of Lazaro Cardenas early Sunday. Forecasters said that storm was moving toward imminent landfall over the coming hours.
The Mexican government late Saturday issued a hurricane warning for the country’s Pacific Coast from Lazaro Cardenas to Manzanillo. The storm was expected to rapidly weaken once it began heading into the Mexican interior through the afternoon.
Manuel was expected to dump 10 to 15 inches of rain over parts of the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Guerrero with maximums of 25 inches possible in some isolated areas. Authorities said those rains would present an especially dangerous threat in mountains, where flash floods and mudslides were possible.
Hurricane Ingrid also was expected to dump very heavy rains. It was centred Sunday about 150 miles (240 km) east of Tampico, Mexico, and moving northwest at 7 mph (11 km). A hurricane warning from Ingrid was in effect from Cabo Rojo to La Pesca.
In Tamaulipas state to the north, where Ingrid is expected to make landfall, the government said in a statement that Independence Day festivities were cancelled in the cities of 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 that more than 5,300 people had been moved to safer ground. Of those, about 3,500 people were being housed in official shelters with the rest staying with family and friends. There were no immediate reports of injuries blamed on the storm.
More than 1,000 homes in Veracruz state have been affected by the storm to varying degrees, and 20 highways and 12 bridges have suffered damages, according to the state’s civil protection authority.
A bridge collapsed near the northern Veracruz city of Misantla on Friday, cutting off the area from the state capital. Thirteen people died when a landslide buried their homes in heavy rains spawned by Tropical Depression Fernand on Monday.
State officials imposed an orange alert, the highest possible, in parts of southern Veracruz.
Associated Press writer Rodrigo Soberanes Santin contributed to this report from Xalapa, Mexico.