From: Frank Jack Daniel, Reuters
Published September 6, 2007 04:14 PM

Hurricane Henriette Pounds Mexico, 2 Reported Dead

LOS CABOS, Mexico, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Hurricane Henriette pounded an already flooded northern Mexico with driving rain and shrieking winds on Wednesday, as local media reported two fishermen were killed.


Henriette was downgraded to a tropical storm as it raged over farming states, having pummeled the Pacific beach resort of Los Cabos on Tuesday then crossed the Sea of Cortez to the mainland, snapping palm trees on the coast.


The storm killed two fishermen from a village in Sonora state, the daily Reforma said in its online edition, citing the local attorney general's office. The deaths could not immediately be confirmed.


Henriette, a relatively weak Category 1 storm at its peak, had already killed seven people including a foreign tourist as it traveled up the Pacific coast. By Wednesday evening its maximum sustained winds had dropped to around 65 mph (100 km).


The storm ripped down street signs and tore off roofs on the Baja California peninsula and damaged thousands of homes.


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Even before it hit the mainland, rain from the storm's outer edges caused caused widespread flooding.


In Sonora state hundreds of families were evacuated to shelters and in the beach resorts of Mazatlan and Los Mochis vacationers also huddled in refuges.


Crashing waves destroyed a pier west of the Sonoran state capital Hermosillo and closed fishing ports along the coast, local media said.


The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Henriette was expected to produce up to 6 inches (15 cm) of rainfall on the mainland, and isolated downpours of up to 12 inches (30 cm) in mountainous areas.


"These rains could produce life-threatening flash floods and mud slides," it said.


FLOODING WIDESPREAD


The eye of Henriette veered north of Sinaloa state where a storm last year tore through fields of tomatoes and pushed up prices later blamed for a brief inflation spike.


Mexican airport operator GAP (GAPB.MX: Quote, Profile, Research)(PAC.N: Quote, Profile, Research) shut its international airport at Los Mochis ahead of the storm but reopened Los Cabos airport after Henriette left it unscathed.


Henriette dumped rain around the resort of Acapulco on the weekend, and in Los Cabos a middle-aged foreign woman was killed walking on the beach on Monday as the storm's approach sent 13-foot (4-metre) waves crashing onto the shore.


Much of the region around Acapulco remained heavily flooded on Wednesday, with hundreds of families unable to return home amid concern about contamination of water supplies.


Waterlogged southeastern Mexico was also braced for further flooding as Hurricane Felix, now a tropical depression, headed inland after raging over Central America's Caribbean coast and killing at least 38 people in Nicaragua.


Television pictures showed floodwaters already as high as roof level in parts of Veracruz state.


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