Twelve dead in Mexico hurricane: officials
Veracruz, Mexico (AFP) Sept 20, 2010
At least 12 people died, about 10 were left missing and 40,000 were forced into emergency shelters when Hurricane Karl slammed into Mexico's Gulf coast, authorities said Monday.
The storm roared ashore Friday, pummeling a country already reeling from one of its wettest seasons on record and leaving communities flooded from the border with the US state of Texas clear down to Mexico's Pacific coast states.
"In total we have the death certificates of 12 people," Civil Defence force director Laura Gurza told a meeting assessing the damage left by the first major hurricane of the 2010 Atlantic season to make landfall.
President Felipe Calderon toured damaged areas in coastal Veracruz state, where at least seven people were killed and about 10 more remained missing, according to authorities.
Karl had forced the evacuation of oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and the shutdown of the country's nuclear power plant, located just four kilometers (three miles) from where the hurricane roared ashore.
Among the dead were two men whose car was swept away by a flash flood in a river, a woman and her two children who drowned in their own home, and two people whose bodies were found washed up on a beach in the port of Veracruz.
Landslides have also killed two women in central Puebla state, while one woman died and eight people were injured when a mudslide swept away a house in the southern state of Oaxaca.
Authorities did not immediately say where the two other deaths occurred.
Calderon inspected the flooding in several villages in Veracruz, whose governor Fidel Herrera said 112 of the 274 municipalities in the state remain under water.
Herrera said at least half a million people in Veracruz were affected in varying degrees by the hurricane. Some 40,000 people were evacuated to shelters.
Looting was reported in small businesses near Veracruz, with authorities detaining 11 people and ordering in extra security personnel to maintain order.
Major flooding earlier this month across Mexico left 25 people dead.
earlier related report
The unusually large category one storm had an eye that was bigger than Bermuda, and it was feared that it would flatten the British overseas territory of some 65,000 inhabitants when it struck Sunday.
But in the end Igor's impact was limited with little structural damage, despite a massive loss of power that affected every corner of the island chain.
Power company Belco said 28,700 of its 35,000 customers were without electricity. It was not immediately known how long Bermudans would have to go without power, but past outages from major storms have lasted days.
The sheer size of the storm -- which had a wind field of nearly 600 miles (965 kilometers) -- meant Bermuda was in for a continued battering even as Igor retreated, with tropical storm strength winds anticipated for much of the day.
Premier Ewart Brown sounded the alarm late last week that Igor could prove prove as devastating as Hurricane Fabian, which claimed four lives and caused millions of dollars of damage in 2003. Those fears proved unfounded however.
The biggest hit, perhaps, was to the tourism industry that drives the economy here.
Officials said they suffered a big loss in bookings for the weekend, after an exodus of tourists on Thursday and Friday, although many visitors chose to ride out the storm in their hotels.
Despite the relatively soft blow from Igor, there were still plenty of visible signs that a major storm had blown through. Palm trees were stripped bare, some homes had roofs with gaping holes or that were dislodged.
Several boats, including a government ferry, broke free of their moorings and crashed onto rocks, while tree branches were strewn across roadways.
Chris Gauntlett, of the Bermuda Regiment, said army patrols had been conducting a thorough damage assessment since shortly after dawn.
"We have between four and five teams out at the moment. So far they are reporting minor obstruction issues from fallen trees, one or two downed power lines and some roofs partially blown off," he said.
Soldiers evacuated a 26-year-old life support patient and transported him to a hospital after the power went out at his home. They also came to the aid of three people when their car got stuck in sand on a beach late Sunday.
The LF Wade International Airport, which canceled all arriving and departing flights, was to remain closed through early Tuesday.
Shops were shut Monday and schools were to remain shuttered through Wednesday. Meanwhile, the causeway bridge, which sustained minor damage, was expected to reopen later in the day.
When it crashed on shore overnight, Igor packed sustained winds of 75 miles (120 kilometers) per hour that whipped up huge waves on Bermuda's southern coast, washing out some beaches and threatening coastal resorts.
At 11:00 am Monday (1500 GMT), the hurricane was 275 miles (445 kilometers) north of the island and picking up speed as it churned northward at 24 miles (39 kilometers) per hour with maximum sustained winds still at about 75 miles (120 kilometers) per hour.
Officials said they expected little or no change in the massive storm in the coming 48 hours, except it would become a "strong extratropical cyclone" as it moves northward toward the Newfoundland province of Canada.
Normally referred to in the singular, Bermuda is actually a group of 138 islands, many of them small and uninhabited. The chain spans only 22 square miles (57 square kilometers).
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Schools and offices were closed in typhoon-hit parts of Taiwan on Monday as residents started clearing up after their homes were flooded by the storm which moved on to pummel southern China. Typhoon Fanapi, the strongest to hit the region this year with gusts of up to 220 kilometres (138 miles) per hour, made landfall on the east coast Sunday and dumped up to 1,000 millimetres (39 inches) of ... read more
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