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Hurricane Hits Baja Sur Coast

Ignacio, with winds topping 105 mph, forces 6,000 to evacuate as ports and airports are closed.

August 25, 2003|From Associated Press

LA PAZ, Mexico — Hurricane Ignacio sideswiped the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula Sunday, threatening to batter the region with winds topping 105 mph as authorities closed all ports and airports and evacuated low-lying areas.

The hurricane gathered force Sunday as it pushed north into the narrow Gulf of California, hugging the eastern edge of this desert peninsula sprinkled with golf courses and five-star hotels.

The governor of Baja California Sur state announced the evacuation of about 6,000 people in parts of La Paz, which is north of Cabo San Lucas, and smaller communities in between.

"Under no pretext should we allow any residents to remain in high-risk zones," Gov. Leonel Cota said. "We have to evacuate them for their own good."

But some residents of Agua Escondida north of La Paz ignored warnings to leave homes cobbled together from packing crates, wood and cardboard.

Police Officer Husberto Camacho Dominguez used his patrol car's public address system to urge residents to take their families to safety.

"Take them to a more secure location, because family is the most important thing," the policeman said.

One block away, Jose Luis Gonzalez continued to mix gravel for his half-built brick house.

"I'm not moving from here," he said. "I just built my house, and I don't want to leave it alone."

By Sunday afternoon, all ports on the lower peninsula were closed after tying down boats or sending them out into the sea.

The hurricane appeared to bypass the popular resort city of Cabo San Lucas, known for its deep-sea fishing, golf courses and famous, arch-shaped rock formation located off its main bay.

Ignacio's center remained over the gulf Sunday evening, as the hurricane drifted slowly north along the edge of Baja California at speeds of 5 mph or slower.

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