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Last Updated: Saturday, 2 September 2006, 16:27 GMT 17:27 UK
Hurricane batters Mexican coast
Sandbags outside a hotel in the resort of Cabo San Lucas
Many tourists left Baja's resorts before the hurricane arrived

Hurricane John has struck Mexico's Baja California peninsula with gusting winds and heavy rains, forcing locals and tourists to hunker down in shelters.

Major resorts on the peninsula's southern tip escaped a direct hit from John's 105 mph (165 km/h) winds.

The storm weakened to a category one hurricane as it knocked out electricity and downed trees in the state capital, La Paz, home to about 200,000 people.

Forecasters were warning of flash floods, landslides and sea surges.

The hurricane made landfall north of the glitzy resorts of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.

Its winds had weakened to near 80 m/ph (130 km/h) on Saturday morning.

The Mexican authorities were on full alert, amid earlier warnings the storm could be the worst to hit the peninsula in a decade.

Scramble to leave

People with homes in low-lying areas crowded into temporary shelters.

"Nobody is leaving until the red alert is lifted," David Manriquez from the civil protection agency in Los Cabos told Reuters. "That might happen Saturday morning."

Earlier, as the storm moved in on the resort towns of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, residents queued to buy petrol and essential supplies.

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Shop owners and businesses in the area boarded up windows to protect them against the hurricane.

Hundreds of tourists scrambled to leave the resorts, most of them heading back to homes in the US.

A Mexican tourism official, Alberto Trevino, said visitors who had chosen to remain were relocated within hotels.

"Some hotels have appropriate facilities, ballrooms or rooms that are safer and they are moving their tourists there," he told the Associated Press news agency.

The hurricane is expected to move up the peninsula and then out west over the Pacific Ocean and dissipate, posing no threat to the US.


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SEE ALSO
In pictures: Hurricane season
01 Sep 06 |  In Pictures
US and Mexico storms: Are you affected?
01 Sep 06 |  Have Your Say
Thousands to flee Hurricane John
31 Aug 06 |  Americas
Storm warning as Ernesto returns
31 Aug 06 |  Americas
Caribbean 'faces stormier future'
28 Aug 06 |  Science/Nature
Country profile: Mexico
03 Jul 06 |  Country profiles

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