Hurricane Grace Barrels into Mexico, President Urges People to Shelter

A man carries a fan and a box while walking past tourist boats that were moved from the water for safety as Hurricane Grace gathered more strength before reaching land, in Tecolutla, Mexico August 20, 2021. (Reuters)
A man carries a fan and a box while walking past tourist boats that were moved from the water for safety as Hurricane Grace gathered more strength before reaching land, in Tecolutla, Mexico August 20, 2021. (Reuters)
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Hurricane Grace Barrels into Mexico, President Urges People to Shelter

A man carries a fan and a box while walking past tourist boats that were moved from the water for safety as Hurricane Grace gathered more strength before reaching land, in Tecolutla, Mexico August 20, 2021. (Reuters)
A man carries a fan and a box while walking past tourist boats that were moved from the water for safety as Hurricane Grace gathered more strength before reaching land, in Tecolutla, Mexico August 20, 2021. (Reuters)

Hurricane Grace barreled into the oil-producing Mexican state of Veracruz with howling winds on Saturday, threatening coastal areas with flooding from the ocean's storm surge.

Grace was a Category 3 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale when it made landfall near the resort town of Tecolutla on the Gulf of Mexico coast in the early hours. It was carrying top sustained winds of near 125 miles per hour (200 kilometers per hour), the National Hurricane Center said.

The Miami-based center warned of a dangerous storm surge, with water levels as much as six to nine feet (1.8 to 2.7 meters) above normal tide levels along the immediate coastal area where the storm made landfall.

The hurricane was expected to weaken as it moved west inland and over mountainous terrain later on Saturday.

Before Grace made landfall, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador urged people in five states to seek shelter.

Thousands of civil protection forces, the defense ministry and the navy, as well as state utility Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE) were prepared, he said on Twitter.

"I ask the people of the regions of Veracruz, Puebla, San Luis Potosi, Tamaulipas and Hidalgo to seek refuge in high places with relatives and in shelters that are being set up," Lopez Obrador wrote.

Through Sunday, the NHC forecast Grace would dump 6 to 12 inches (15-30 cm) of rain over large swaths of eastern and central Mexico, and up to 18 inches in some areas. The heavy rainfall would likely cause areas of flash and urban flooding, it said.

In Tecolutla, residents spent hours on Friday afternoon taking hundreds of boats on land to keep them safe.

"Here in Tecolutla, we've had a culture of prevention for many years," said Ricardo Pardinas, who offers boat tours to tourists. "These weather phenomena have caused damage."

The NHC forecast that through Sunday, Grace would dump 6 to 12 inches (15-30 cm) of rain over large swaths of eastern and central Mexico, and up to 18 inches in some areas. The heavy rainfall would likely cause areas of flash and urban flooding, it said.

Veracruz and its waters are home to several oil installations, including Petroleos Mexicanos' Coatzacoalcos port and Lazaro Cardenas refinery in Minatitlan in the south of the state. Grace hit land well to the north of these cities.

Earlier in the week, Grace pounded Mexico's Caribbean coast, downing trees and causing power outages for nearly 700,000 people, but without causing loss of life, authorities said.

It also doused Jamaica and Haiti, still reeling from a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, with torrential rain.



40 Dead in Heavy Rains in Afghanistan, 17 killed in Bus Accident

Afghans examine the scene of destruction after torrential rains in, Shansra Ghondai village, Sorkhroud district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, 15 July 2024. EPA/SHAFIULLAH KAKAR
Afghans examine the scene of destruction after torrential rains in, Shansra Ghondai village, Sorkhroud district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, 15 July 2024. EPA/SHAFIULLAH KAKAR
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40 Dead in Heavy Rains in Afghanistan, 17 killed in Bus Accident

Afghans examine the scene of destruction after torrential rains in, Shansra Ghondai village, Sorkhroud district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, 15 July 2024. EPA/SHAFIULLAH KAKAR
Afghans examine the scene of destruction after torrential rains in, Shansra Ghondai village, Sorkhroud district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, 15 July 2024. EPA/SHAFIULLAH KAKAR

Heavy rains in eastern Afghanistan have killed at least 40 people and injured nearly 350 others, Taliban officials said Tuesday. Separately, at least 17 died when a bus overturned on a main highway, official media said.
Sharafat Zaman Amar, a spokesperson for the Public Health Ministry, confirmed that 40 people had died in Monday's storm and that 347 injured people had been brought for treatment to the regional hospital in Nangarhar from Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, and nearby districts.
Among the dead were five members of the same family who were killed when the roof of their house collapsed in Surkh Rod district, according to provincial spokesperson Sediqullah Quraishi. Four other family members were injured, The Associated Press reported.
About 400 houses and 60 electricity poles were destroyed across Nangarhar province, Quraishi said. Power was cut in many areas and there were limited communications in Jalalabad city, he said. The damage was still being assessed, Quraishi said.
Abdul Wali, 43, said much of the damage occurred within an hour. “The winds were so strong that they blew everything into the air. That was followed by heavy rain,” he said. His 4-year-old daughter received minor injuries, he said.
In May, exceptionally heavy rains killed more than 300 people and destroyed thousands of houses, mostly in the northern province of Baghlan, according to the World Food Program.
Separately, the official Taliban news agency Bakhtar reported that at least 17 people were killed and 34 others injured when a bus overturned Tuesday morning on the main highway linking Kabul and Balkh in northern Baghlan province.
The cause of the accident wasn't immediately clear, but poor road conditions and careless driving are often blamed for such incidents in the country.