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. Mexico prepares shelters ahead of Hurricane Norbert

Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Mexico City (AFP) Oct 9, 2008
The Mexican State of Baja California prepared evacuation shelters as Hurricane Norbert churned through the Pacific Ocean toward the narrow strip of western Mexico Thursday.

The storm, category three on the five-point Saffir-Simpson scale, is "still a major hurricane," the US National Hurricane Center said in its latest report, after it dropped down from category four.

"All precautions are in place ... we have prepared temporary shelters," Jose Gajon, director of Baja California state rescue services, told national radio.

"We'll decide today (Thursday) if we'll evacuate families to secure sites."

Norbert was moving northwestwards with sustained winds of 205 kilometers (127 miles) per hour, according to the latest report from the Mexican meteorological center.

The storm was expected to hit the southern tip of Baja California, a major tourist area, on Saturday before crossing the Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez, and hitting land again in northwest Mexico Sunday.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Odile churned up Mexio's Pacific coast further south with sustained winds of 67 kilometers per hour.

Meteorological services warned of strong winds and heavy rains in days ahead.

Dangerous category-four hurricane Norbert aims for Mexico
Norbert has grown into a dangerous category-four hurricane with winds near 215 kilometers (135 miles miles) per hour, as it churns towards Mexico's tourist destination of Baja, California, the National Hurricane Center said late Wednesday.

"Hurricane Norbert is already a category-four storm (just short of maximum category five) in the Saffir-Simpson scale, so we're under a green or precaution alert in southern Baja California," said local State Civil Protection Unit spokesman Jose Gajon.

The NHC's five-day forecast showed Norbert, currently located in the Pacific Ocean about 715 kilometers (445 miles) south of Baja's southern tip, striking the peninsula at hurricane strength late Friday or early Saturday.

"Some fluctuations in intensity are possible during the next day or so ... followed by gradual weakening on Friday," the Miami-based NHC said.

"Interests in the southern Baja California peninsula should monitor the progress of Norbert," the center said.

Southern Baja California includes the state capital of La Paz and the resort centers of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.

The 1,100-kilometer-long peninsula in northwestern Mexico abuts the US state of California and is mostly separated from mainland Mexico by the Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez.

Norbert is forecast to cross the peninsula, then head across mainland Mexico as it weakens and strike the US states of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona as a tropical depression.

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Disasters kill more in 2008 than in tsunami: UN
Geneva (AFP) Oct 8, 2008
More people died from natural disasters in the first six months of 2008 than in the Asian tsunami of 2004 due mainly to the earthquake in China and cyclone in Myanmar, the United Nations said Wednesday.

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