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23 Sep 2003 07:50
With winds of up to 140kph and driving rain, Hurricane Marty slammed into Mexico’s Baja California, killing five people, leaving thousands homeless and causing widespread flooding, officials said.
In the state capital of La Paz, on the Pacific Ocean, power and drinking water supplies were knocked out by the hurricane on Monday, while the storm surge put about 50 neighbourhoods under 1,5m of water and overwhelmed the sewer system, Mayor Victor Manual Guluarte told local radio.
State Police Chief Luis Angel Gonzales said two men drowned in La Paz and the Cabo San Lucas resort, while radio Monitor reporters said three people perished inside their car as they tried to drive across a swollen stream.
Baja California Sur state Governor Leonel Cota Montano said two people were missing in Los Cabos, on the western side of the peninsula.
Hundreds of homes and roads were flooded in the capital, authorities said. About 6 000 people were forced to abandon their homes.
The ports of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo were closed, authorities said.
Admiral Joaquin Garcia, the local navy chief, said 35 yachts had sunk and a hundred other craft had been damaged.
Las Cabos, La Paz and other tourist destinations in the state were without electricity.
Children were sent home so schools could serve as shelters for about 10 000 residents who had been driven from their homes.
Authorities closed ports and airports on the peninsula.
At 6am GMT, the centre of Marty had crossed the Gulf of California and was located about 30km south of Sonora, on mainland Mexico.
Marty was the second hurricane to batter this part of Mexico in less than one month.
On August 25, Hurricane Ignacio ravaged La Paz with winds of near 165kph and torrential rain, but caused no fatalities or injuries.—Sapa-AFP
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