Latin America & Caribbean

Hurricane Odile damages Mexico's Baja California resorts

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Media captionThe hurricane left several towns without electricity, as Alastair Leithead reports

Hurricane Odile has left streets flooded, and homes and packed hotels destroyed in the beach resorts of Mexico's Baja California peninsula, triggering looting in some areas.

The storm has eased since Sunday from category four to one but still packed winds of up to 160km/h (100 mph).

Mexican authorities are warning of more landslides and flooding in the coming days, as the storm moves northwest.

They have also prepared shelter for some 30,000 people.

"The whole place is devastated, windows are trashed, trees and electricity poles are down," Mauricio Balderrama, manager of the Cabo Surf Hotel and Spa in San Jose del Cabo told Reuters, but confirmed his hotel guests were fine.

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Image caption People salvage remains from houses destroyed by Hurricane Odile in Los Cabos
Image copyright AP
Image caption On Monday thousands of tourists and locals emerged from hotel shelters to assess the damage.

On Monday dozens of people, including children, ransacked the shops for batteries and alcohol until troops arrived to stop the looting, agencies reported.

"I'm taking water for the children and food for the baby. You never know what can happen tomorrow," 41-year-old Osvaldo Lopez told reporters, as he left one convenience store.

Scores of homes have been damaged in one poor neighbourhood on the peninsula, where electricity poles collapsed onto cars but no-one was hurt, correspondents say.

The US National Hurricane Center in Miami had predicted that Odile would be a category four hurricane, but it lost strength as it reached the coast.

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Image caption These tourists in Los Cabos crammed into a stairwell after their shelter was destroyed by the storm

Forecasters said the storm slowed to up to 20 km/h (13 mph), and would steadily weaken over the next two days.

However, even as it moved north-west up the desert peninsula, the NHC warned of more heavy rainfall and flooding on the northwest coast.

At least 26,000 foreign tourists and 4,000 Mexicans were in the region, local officials said, and those in areas at risk of flooding were evacuated.

The region is home to massive resort complexes, as well as fishing communities and low-lying shanty towns.

Luis Puente, the head of Mexico's civil protection agency, told reporters that 164 shelters had been readied with a capacity for 30,000 people.

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