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3 People Killed as Hurricane Hits Baja

Marty weakens to a tropical storm as it moves across the gulf to mainland Mexico. Hundreds are evacuated in the Los Cabos area.

September 23, 2003|From Associated Press

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico — Hurricane Marty flooded streets and flattened trees Monday in southern Baja California, leaving at least three people dead before heading into the Gulf of California and weakening to tropical-storm status.

Tropical Storm Marty still packed 70-mph winds and could hit the Mexican mainland today.

Epigmeo Lopez, 52, was killed when the hurricane hit his cardboard and wood shack in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur state Police Officer Francisco Solis said.

Lopez, who had moved to the area in search of work, was sleeping in a hammock when the storm blew off his shack's roof, carrying him and the hammock with it.

Further north in La Paz, a car carrying two passengers was swept away by a flash flood, leaving one person dead and one missing, state authorities said.

Across the gulf in Los Mochis, a 55-year-old man was killed when he pulled his truck off the road during heavy rain and a tree fell on the vehicle, said Los Mochis Civil Patrol spokesman Jesus Rodriguez.

A number of minor injuries were reported, and hundreds of people were evacuated to shelters in Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, both in the resort region of Los Cabos.

Some sections of both cities were without water and electricity, forcing hotels to rely on candles and generators. Most hotels and businesses, however, escaped major damage.

"This one wasn't that big of a deal," Dennis Wolf, manager of the Hacienda Beach Resort in Cabo San Lucas, said by telephone. "When the eye came over, it only lasted about an hour and a half."

Airports remained closed in the region.

The storm's greatest threat appeared to be from storm surges and heavy rainfall. Flooding of 4 to 8 feet above normal tide levels was predicted along parts of the coast. The flooding could be accompanied "by large and dangerous battering waves," the hurricane center said.

Mexican Interior Minister Santiago Creel declared a state of emergency in Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo and two other major cities on the peninsula.

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