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Hurricane Fausto Bedevils Mainland

September 14, 1996

LA PAZ, Mexico (AP) _ Hurricane Fausto smashed into the Mexican mainland today after it hit Baja California, downing power lines, smashing windows and sending tourists running for cover.

The storm roared ashore with 80 mph winds around midnight near Topolobampo, a port hard hit last September by Hurricane Ismael.

Early this morning the storm was moving north and farther inland at 17 mph.

Officials prepared scores of emergency shelters while long lines formed at gas stations and supermarkets ahead of the storm in nearby Los Mochis.

Hundreds of shrimp boats in Topolobampo were tied up. As many as 90 fishermen, many from that port, died when they were caught at sea by Ismael last year.

The storm was moving north-northeast from Los Mochis. A hurricane warning was in effect for mainland Mexico.

Forecasters said the storm should rapidly lose force once ashore, but could bring rains to Texas and southern New Mexico by late in the weekend.

Fausto killed at least one person _ an American _ and drove thousands from their homes as it pushed the sea into the streets of this state capital in Baja California and snapped palm trees onto cars and power lines.

The storm tore several yachts and sailboats from their moorings here Friday, leaving them drifting off into the Gulf of California.

The official Notimex news agency quoted Gov. Guillermo Mercado Romero as saying Erick Hite of San Diego died when a power line blew onto his trailer near Cabo San Lucas.

The Red Cross said more than 2,500 people were evacuated from poor neighborhoods, and hundreds more fled to shelters.

``I’ve built two homes and I’ve lost two homes to hurricanes,″ said Zaco Herrera, one of 200 evacuees at a primary school in San Jose del Cabo.

Barefoot children in rags and similarly dressed parents lay on blankets on the concrete floor Friday night. For Francisca Jaime Anaya, it was an old story.

``The army came Thursday night and advised us to leave,″ said the woman from the poor area of Zacamil. ``I know the way from Zacamil to the school very well.″

A few miles away are a battery of tourist resorts where people pay $200 or $300 a night _ or much more _ for a room with a view.

The view Friday was of clouds, sheets of horizontal rain pushed by 100-mph-plus winds and ugly brown churning surf. The coastal roads were cut for hours by floods that seemed to pour from nowhere into the Gulf of California.

By nightfall, the waters had receded to reveal destroyed roads. Power to much of the area remained cut.

Fausto came ashore in Baja California Friday afternoon at Todos Santos. Winds that had reached 105 mph in the morning fell to 80 mph as the storm crossed the peninsula.

Update hourly