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Tropical storms bring misery to Mexico

Over a week ago, hurricane Karl hit the central Gulf Coast of Mexico. The storm swept through the Bay of Campeche, where Mexico produces more than two thirds of its oil. Thankfully the country’s oil operations were not affected. Residents across Mexico were not so lucky. The Category 3 hurricane caused floods and landslides and in the eastern state of Veracruz, around 40,000 people were evacuated to emergency shelters. 15 people are already known to have been killed, including 7 who were travelling in a bus which was engulfed by a landslide near the town of Villa Guerrero, 60 km south west of Mexico City.

And there are fears the number of dead may rise further, as emergency workers continue to search the hundreds of towns and villages which have been submerged by water and mud. Some remote villages have yet to be reached, with emergency efforts being hampered by the flood waters. The governor of Veracruz has reported that “nearly half the state” is under water. And with the southern states of Oaxaca and Tabasco also having been hit by floods, this brings the total number of Mexicans so far affected by the storms to around 1 million.

As hurricane Karl left Mexico, heavy storms continued to rage as authorities reported the region was enduring its worst rainy season on record. The situation in the mountainous area south west of Mexico city has not been helped by the fact that the state electricity company was forced to open up several hydroelectric dams to relieve pressure from the mounting waters. This action inundated several communities and triggered some of the deadly landslides.

And Mexico is now enduring another tropical storm, Georgette, which made landfall near the coastal resort town of Cabo San Lucas. Though Georgette’s power has reduced, strong winds and heavy rains are moving across the Gulf of California. In Baja California, the director of civil defence said that around 1,000 families had been evacuated from vulnerable areas.

One US climate agency predicted that this year would be a busy one for hurricanes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned that the Atlantic basin might see between 14 and 23 storms, with between 8 and 14 developing into hurricanes and between 3 to 7 becoming major hurricanes, with winds of at least 178 km/hour. The agency was urging countries in the region to be prepared. With the hurricane season due to run till the end of November, it seems that despite all the misery so far endured, Mexicans might not yet be over the worst.

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