September 8, 2017 / 6:16 PM / 2 months ago

Dissipating storm Katia kills two in mudslide in eastern Mexico

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Two people died in a mudslide in Mexico sparked by storm Katia, and thousands were left without power as the weather front dissipated inland on Saturday, threatening to dump rains in waterlogged areas also shaken by a major earthquake this week.

People cover the windows of their property ahead of Hurricane Katia, in Vega de Alatorre, Mexico September 8, 2017. REUTERS/Oscar Martinez

The two people died in Xalapa, the capital of Veracruz state, when mud loosened from a hillside by Katia’s rains trapped them in their home, Luis Felipe Puente, head of Mexico’s national emergency services, told Reuters.

Katia weakened rapidly after hitting the land on Friday night, although Veracruz Governor Miguel Angel Yunes said the storm had left some 70,000 people without electricity and caused damage in 53 of the Gulf state’s 212 municipalities.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said that as a tropical depression, Katia was blowing maximum sustained winds of 35 miles (56 km) per hour as it dissipated over the mountains of central eastern Mexico by midmorning on Saturday.

Mexico is dealing with the aftermath of a huge quake that struck on Thursday night, and President Enrique Pena Nieto said on Friday that Katia could be especially dangerous in hillsides rocked by the magnitude 8.1 tremor.

The earthquake, the strongest to strike Mexico in more than 80 years, killed at least 61 people.

Lifeguards are pictured at a lifeguard post ahead of Hurricane Katia in Veracruz, Mexico, September 7, 2017. REUTERS/Victor Yanez

Katia was about 125 miles (201 km) west northwest of the port of Veracruz by midmorning on Saturday, the NHC said, noting that the threat of heavy rainfall continued.

Officials in Veracruz warned that Katia could cause landslides and flooding, and they urged people to evacuate vulnerable areas.

Mexican emergency services said this week that Katia was worrisome because it is very slow-moving and could dump a lot of rain on areas that have been saturated in recent weeks.

State energy company Pemex [PEMX.UL] has installations in and around the coast of Veracruz but has not reported any disruption to its operations there.

As Katia reached the Mexican Gulf Coast, Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful Atlantic storms in a century, walloped Cuba’s northern coast.

Millions of Florida residents were ordered to evacuate after the storm killed 21 people in the eastern Caribbean and left catastrophic destruction in its wake.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Jose continued to move northwestward in the Atlantic and was blowing winds of 145 mph as a Category 4 storm about 120 miles east of the Northern Leeward Islands at 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT) on Saturday.

Reporting by Dave Graham and Lizbeth Diaz; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn

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