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  31 May 2022, 10:35

Hurricane Agatha drenches Mexican beach resorts

 

HUATULCO , Mexico, May 31, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - Hurricane Agatha, the first of
the season, lashed a string of beach resorts on Mexico's Pacific Coast as it
barreled ashore Monday, bringing strong winds, heavy rain and flood warnings.

Agatha was the strongest storm to make landfall along Mexico's Pacific coast
in May since record keeping began in 1949, the US National Hurricane Center
(NHC) said.

It touched land near Puerto Angel in the southern state of Oaxaca as a
Category 2 hurricane -- the second lowest on a scale of five.

Agatha later weakened to a Category 1 storm, but still packed maximum
sustained winds of 130 kilometers (80 miles) per hour, the NHC said.

"Rapid weakening is expected as the hurricane moves farther inland. Agatha is
forecast to weaken to a tropical storm tonight, and dissipate over
southeastern Mexico by late Tuesday," it said.

Small landslides were reported in parts of Oaxaca, civil protection
coordinator Oscar Valencia told the Milenio television channel.

Residents along the coast had stocked up on food and water and boarded up
windows of homes and businesses as Agatha approached.

Seaports in the area closed and airlines canceled flights to the region.

Authorities opened around 200 storm shelters with room for up to 26,800
people, while hotels provided refuge to the estimated 5,200 national and
foreign tourists in the danger zone.

"We are already on red alert. This is coming and it is coming strong,"
Roberto Castillo, a civil protection official in Huatulco, told AFP as the
storm neared.

A hurricane warning was issued for a stretch of coastline including Puerto
Escondido and other surf towns popular with Mexican and foreign tourists,
leaving normally busy beaches deserted.

"Storm surge is expected to produce extremely dangerous coastal flooding" and
will be accompanied by "large and destructive waves," the NHC said.

"Agatha will produce heavy rains over portions of southern Mexico through
Tuesday night," as well as "life-threatening surf and rip current
conditions," it predicted.

In Oaxaca and neighboring Chiapas state, "life-threatening flash flooding and
mudslides may occur," the NHC added.

The region is home to several major rivers and Mexico's meteorological
service warned of possible overflows and landslides.

Mexico is regularly lashed by tropical storms on both its Pacific and
Atlantic coasts, generally between the months of May and November.

The deadliest storm to hit Mexico last year was a Category 3 hurricane called
Grace that killed 11 people in the eastern states of Veracruz and Puebla in
August.

 

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