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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 September 2006, 10:10 GMT 11:10 UK
Hurricane Lane hits Mexico coast
Effects of Hurricane Lane at Mazatlan
Mazatlan was caught off-guard by the effects of the hurricane
Hurricane Lane has weakened to a tropical storm and is losing power after lashing Mexico's Pacific coast with heavy winds and torrential rain.

Lane was downgraded from a category three to a tropical storm as it pummelled the coast, narrowly missing the resort town of Mazatlan.

It hit a sparsely populated area north of the town and was moving to the state capital, Culiacan, home to 750,000.

But Lane is expected to break up in the next 24 hours as it moves inland.

A storm warning remained in effect for areas north of Mazatlan, but the US National Hurricane Center said it expected that warning to be discontinued during Sunday.

On Saturday evening Lane was moving north towards Culiacan at 15km/h with maximum sustained winds of 145km/h.

Culiacan mayor, Aaron Irizar Lopez, said between 40,000 and 50,000 people living near rivers could be at risk from flooding.

But by 0900 GMT on Sunday the weakened storm had maximum sustained winds of just 85 km/h (50 mph).

'Really ugly'

The town of Mazatlan was caught off-guard when the storm swung unexpectedly towards it after initially heading for the Baja California peninsula.

Map showing landfall impact and predicted path of Hurricane Lane
Parts of the town suffered power cuts and flights were cancelled, along with the resort's independence day parade.

"It's really ugly out there," said Alma Baldez, as she handed out candles to guests at a hotel in the town, the Associated Press news agency reported.

But there was relief on the Baja California peninsula, where at least three people died during Hurricane John two weeks ago.

"It looks like we dodged the bullet," said Ricardo Rodriguez, a fishing tours salesman in Los Cabos resort.

Further south on Friday, a seven-year-old boy died in a rockslide as the Hurricane Lane dumped heavy rains on the resort of Acapulco.

And flooding forced at least 500 people from their homes in the port city of Lazaro Cardenas.

Forecasters continued to warn that rainfall from the storm could cause flash floods and mudslides, but said just a few inches of rain were expected before the Lane dissipates.

Many residents in the hurricane's projected path have boarded up buildings and stocked up on emergency supplies.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Scenes of hurried preparations for Hurricane Lane



SEE ALSO
In pictures: Hurricane season
01 Sep 06 |  In Pictures
Caribbean 'faces stormier future'
28 Aug 06 |  Science/Nature
Mexico confirms hurricane deaths
05 Sep 06 |  Americas

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