Mexico on red alert as Hilary becomes Category 4 hurricane   2011-09-23 14:50:00 FeedbackPrintRSS

MEXICO CITY, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- All Mexican states along the Pacific coast issued warnings Thursday as rapidly strengthening Hurricane Hilary brushed the country's coastline.

By 21:00 local time (02:00 GMT), Hilary became a powerful and dangerous category-four hurricane as it moved to 140 km southwest of the famous tourist resort of Acapulco in Guerrero state, with sustained winds of over 215 kph and gusts of up to 240 kph.

Mexican civil protection authorities warned residents and tourists to be cautious and stay indoors until the storm slackens, which is speculated to happen in 24 to 36 hours.

The deputy minister for civil protection in Guerrero, Eutimio Rodriguez, also asked the local population to be prepared for a possible evacuation, as the region would see more torrential rain in the next 48 hours, causing a high risk of floods or flash floods.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the big waves and strong currents caused by Hurricane Hilary have led to "life-threatening conditions" in coastal areas. The waves and currents are expected last 24 to 48 hours.

"Hilary will continue to move parallel to the southwest coast of Mexico, but any deviation to the north of the track could bring stronger winds to the coast," said the Miami-based NHC, adding that "some additional strengthening is possible on Friday."

Meanwhile, Mexico's National Meteorological Service (SMN) warned people in the southern states of Oaxaca, Chiapas, Guerrero, Nayarit and Jalisco against potential landslides and flash floods as the soil in the highland areas of these regions are already saturated following recent downpours.

Together with Hilary in the west, Tropical Storm Ophelia, coming from the Atlantic in the east with sustained winds of 100 kph, is expected to approach the outlying Caribbean islands of Barbados and Dominica Saturday before moving toward Puerto Rico late Sunday, the NHC said.

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