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Tropical Storm Losing Steam in Mexico

October 25, 2006

SAN JOSE DEL CABO, Mexico (AP) _ Tropical Storm Paul quickly lost strength Wednesday as it swirled toward Mexico’s mainland at the tip of the Baja California peninsula.

About 100 residents who were evacuated to government shelters in Cabo San Lucas were heading back to their homes, relieved the sun had re-emerged and they had been spared by Paul, which earlier in the week had been the season’s third hurricane to threaten the region.

The storm was forecast to continue weakening as it moved quickly toward mainland Mexico. It was expected to make landfall late Wednesday night or early Thursday and could dump as much as 10 inches of rain, threatening dangerous flooding, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

On Monday, Paul neared Category 3 hurricane status, with winds reaching 110 mph. But by 2 p.m. EDT Wednesday, its maximum sustained winds were down to near 45 mph. It was centered about 65 miles northwest of Mazatlan and was moving northeast at about 16 mph, the hurricane center said.

Victims of the storm included a Baja California fisherman who died after slipping off sea-battered rocks and an American who was swept out to sea and feared drowned.

Late Tuesday night, police with flashlights and loudspeakers went door to door among the wood and tarpaper shacks in the precarious slums that perch on the edge of riverbanks and flood-prone gullies in Cabo San Lucas.

``Please evacuate. The rain is coming,″ police said through megaphones.

About 100 people were taken in the backs of pickup trucks and buses to shelters set up at public schools.

``I’m doing this for the safety of my family, and more than anything else, because they got me up,″ said construction worker Rosario Solis, 40, who was evacuated in a pickup truck along with his wife and two of his six children.

Solis was not taking any chances after his tarpaper shack was damaged in September in Hurricane John, which battered Baja California, killing five people and destroying 160 homes. That same month, Hurricane Lane threatened the resort region but ended up hitting the resort town of Mazatlan, causing relatively minor damage.

A 23-year-old Mexican fisherman died Monday after he slipped off rocks pounded by the rough sea in Todos Santos, north of Los Cabos, according to Baja California Sur state civil defense director Jose Gajon.

Rescue workers from the Los Cabos fire department were still searching for John Skoor, 65, of suburban Seattle, who was swept away by what witnesses described as ``an enormous wave″ while walking along the beach with his wife and sister.

``They were walking along the beach, and a wave swept them away, it battered them and swept them in. They managed to get one of the women out, but they couldn’t get him,″ said city rescue worker Juan Oved. ``We’re waiting to see if the waves bring him back to shore.″

The popular resorts of San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas are famous for deep-sea fishing, golf courses and beaches flanked by cactus-dotted deserts.


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