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Weather

Mexico menaced on both coasts by storms Ingrid and Manuel

Several thousand people have evacuated as Hurricane Ingrid draws nearer to Mexico’s Atlantic coast. In the west, Tropical Storm Manuel has grown to hurricane strength and is expected to make landfall on Sunday.

Ingrid, Mexico's second hurricane of the Atlantic season, packed maximum sustained winds of 140 kilometers per hour (85 mph) Sunday as it moved north-northwest at about 11 kilometers per hour off the coast of Tampico, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the US border. The US National Hurricane Center in Miami has reported that if Ingrid were to stay on its forecast track, it could reach the coast of Mexico by early Monday.

"Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion," the National Hurricane Center announced.

Closely following Tropical Depression Fernand, which killed 13 last week, Ingrid has forced residents to flee and damaged highways and bridges, but not yet injured anybody. Forecasters said Ingrid could dump 25-40 centimeters (10-15 inches) of rain, though mountainous areas could experience more than 60 centimeters, with a storm surge capable of raising water levels 1.5 meters (5 feet) above normal with large and destructive waves along the coast.

The government of the state of Tamaulipas canceled major September 15 and 16 Independence Day festivities in anticipation of Ingrid's landfall. Officials in the state of Veracruz began evacuating coastal residents Friday night, and local civil protection authorities said they had moved more than 5,300 people to safer ground, housing about 3,500 with nowhere else to stay in official shelters.

Late Saturday, the federal government issued a hurricane warning for the southern Pacific Coast as Tropical Storm Manuel neared, building its maximum sustained winds of to 110 kph. At the time of the warning, Manuel had come to within about 65 kilometers south-southwest of the city of Lazaro Cardenas and 255 kilometers southeast of Manzanillo, moving northward at 11 kilometers per hour.

mkg/msh (AFP, dpa, AP)