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Tropical Storm Approaches Mexico's Coast

Evacuation centers are set up as heavy rains move in. Two oil export ports remain closed.

October 05, 2003|From Reuters

MEXICO CITY — Tropical Storm Larry dumped heavy rain on Mexico's eastern coast Saturday and two oil shipping ports in the Gulf of Mexico remained shut as it threatened to turn into a hurricane.

In the Pacific, Hurricane Nora was grinding about 400 miles south-southwest of the popular tourist resort of Cabo San Lucas in Baja California, while another tropical storm, Olaf, hovered off Acapulco.

Neither Nora nor Olaf was expected to make landfall soon.

On the Gulf Coast, authorities set up evacuation shelters and readied relief supplies in coastal states as Larry churned south, expected to hit land today.

The storm's center was located 55 miles north of the industrial city of Coatzacoalcos in Veracruz state Saturday evening and was moving at 3 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Larry, the 12th storm of an active Atlantic hurricane season, formed Wednesday and has since drifted toward the Mexican coast, bringing battering waves, storm-surge flooding and heavy rainfall.

"These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides," forecasters said. The storm was packing maximum sustained winds of almost 60 mph with stronger gusts, the center said.

The oil export ports of Dos Bocas in Tabasco state and Pajaritos in Coatzacoalcos remained shut, while Cayo Arcas in Campeche reopened Saturday afternoon after closing Thursday.

A spokeswoman at the state oil monopoly, Pemex, said crude exports could be delayed if the ports were still closed today. Another Pemex official said the company was using reserves stored in a large oil tanker offshore to make sure exports were not disrupted.

Mexico is the world's eighth-largest oil exporter and a key source of oil for the United States.

On the Pacific Coast, Hurricane Nora strengthened to a category 2 storm and was moving west-northwest at 7 mph.

Farther south, Olaf brought clouds and moderate to strong rains to the resort city of Acapulco on the Pacific Coast. The storm was hovering about 185 miles west of Acapulco.

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