43 killed by mudslides in Mexico; new storm aims for Baja

The continuing heavy rain led officials to close a section of the main federal highway connecting Mexico City to the region.

(Photo: Patricia Morales /EL UNIVERSAL)
English 08/08/2016 12:04 AP Actualizada 14:21

Tropical Storm Javier pushed closer to the resort city of Cabo San Lucas on the tip of Mexico's Baja California Peninsula Monday, while the death toll from former Hurricane Earl rose to 43 in the country's eastern mountains.

Communities in two states were digging out from weekend mudslides during heavy rains brought by remnants of Earl, which slammed into Mexico's Gulf coast. Three more bodies were found amid the mud and floodwaters in central Puebla state bringing the toll there to 32, and 11 more died in neighboring Veracruz state.

Javier was expected to stay slightly out to sea as it passes by Cabo San Lucas late Monday or early Tuesday, and continue on a more northerly track, raking the Pacific coast of the Baja peninsula.

Javier was located about 55 miles (75 kilometers) southeast of Cabo San Lucas Monday morning, with winds of 50 mph (85 kph), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

The center said "heavy rains (are) beginning to spread over southern Baja California" from the storm.

Javier was moving northwest at about 10 mph (17 kph), on a path that could brush land around Puerto San Carlos, further up the peninsula, on Wednesday, and again around Laguna San Ignacio later in the week.

Authorities in Cabo San Lucas prepared 10 storm shelters, mostly at local schools, for families who live in low-lying areas. The resort was closed to navigation, and some owners of smaller fishing boats could be seen pulling them onto shore and hauling them away on trailers.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for the southern part of Baja California.

Among the casualties of Earl, at least 32 people died in multiple mudslides in the mountainous north of Puebla state, said state Interior Secretary Diodoro Carrasco. He said that an amount of rainfall equivalent to entire month of normal precipitation fell in one night in some areas.

Of the victims, 25 were killed in different parts of the township of Huauchinango and three died in the hamlet of Tlaola.

"It is a tragedy what has happened to our people in Huauchinango," said Gabriel Alvarado, the township's mayor.

In neighboring Veracruz state, 11 people lost their lives when mudslides hit the towns of Coscomatepec, Tequila and Huayacocotla, Gov. Javier Duarte said.