VEGA DE ALATORRE, Mexico (AFP) – Hurricane Karl roared ashore on Mexico’s flood-hit east coast Friday, just four miles (seven kilometers) from a closed nuclear power station bringing heavy winds and rains.
The first major hurricane of the Atlantic season to hit land slightly weakened, to a category two on the five point Saffir-Simpson scale, as it moved inland, the US National Hurricane center said in its latest advisory.
“Continued weakening is expected as the center of Karl moves farther inland,” it added.
Still packing winds of up to 110 miles (175 kilometers) an hour, the storm hit as Mexico reels under one of its wettest seasons on record, and forced the evacuation of oil rigs and the shutdown of a nuclear plant.
“There is absolutely no risk” since all security measures were taken at Laguna Verde, Mexico’s only nuclear generator, said Laura Gurza, national civil protection director.
Karl hit around 1630 GMT, just north of the port of Veracruz, and was the worst storm to hit the region in some three decades.
It would dump huge amounts of rain and could trigger dangerous flash-flooding as it headed toward a large swathe of central Mexico, including Mexico City, forecasters said.
As officials opened hostels with room for thousands of people, many hunkered down in their homes, sticking adhesive tape on windows and blocking doors with furniture.
Coastal resident Filemon Calderon said his wooden house collapsed overnight, after he had tried to reinforce it with old mattresses. “It fell on us. The beds and our furniture were soaked,” the 59-year-old said.