International

Hurricane Willa landed in Mexico

Hurricane Willa, downgraded to category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, hit the Mexican coast in the northwest of the country on Tuesday night. The once classified category 5 hurricane, lost its intensity and turned into a tropical storm.

Meteorologists remain cautious, as the storm can still cause deadly floods and landslides.

Alert levels are maintained for Wednesday and Willa is expected to fade gradually in the afternoon, according to the US Hurricane Observation Center.

Wednesday morning, the winds lost their power and reached a speed of 46 mph. The day before, they had reached 121 mph.

Willa first swept the islands of Maria, where there is a federal prison. The Mexican Ministry of the Interior did not indicate whether the 1,000 detainees there were evacuated or other emergency measures had been taken.

The eye hit the coast near Escuinapa in Sinaloa state, the Mexican weather service reported on Twitter.

The hurricane, which had been classified a few hours in category 5 Monday, lost strength and was retrograded in category 3 on Tuesday.

The states of Sinaloa and Nayarit (west) had been placed on “orange alert” by the authorities and schools had been closed.

Thousands of evacuees

More than 4,250 people have been evacuated to high-risk areas, including some tourist areas, said National Protection Officer Luis Felipe Puente.

A few hours before Willa arrived in Escuinapa, a city of 30,000 people, several streets were already flooded.

“Let’s hope that all this will end quickly and that we will be able to return home,” said famer Epigmenio Cardenas speaking to reporters.

“It feels bad to leave everything behind, but what can we do,” he added.

Soldiers have been deployed in the area to respond to major damage.

At 100 km north, in Mazatlan, which has 500,000 inhabitants, the hurricane, however, had caused a slight rain in the early evening.

Walkers even strolled on the seaside promenade, on foot or by bike, noted an AFP journalist.

In September, at least 15 people died in flash floods associated with heavy rains in the Sinaloa and Michoacan states.

Last week, 11 people died in Oaxaca (south), including 7 children, due to inclement weather.