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Dozens flee Japan mudslide island to beat new typhoon
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Oct 23, 2013

Raymond weakens to tropical storm, leaves Mexico coast
Acapulco, Mexico (AFP) Oct 23, 2013 - Raymond weakened to a tropical storm Wednesday and moved away from Mexico's Pacific coast, providing cautious relief to a region still reeling from deadly floods and landslides last month.

Forecasters in both Mexico and the United States said the former hurricane lost steam overnight and was likely to abate further.

But authorities urged the public to stay alert and follow official instructions since more rain was likely, further soaking already drenched areas.

Raymond was packing maximum sustained winds of 95 kilometers per hour (60 miles per hour), the US National Hurricane Center said in its latest bulletin.

The storm had previously weakened from a Category Three to a Category One hurricane on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale.

At 1500 GMT, it was located some 295 kilometers south-southwest of the resort of Zihuatanejo and 370 kilometers west-southwest of another tourist haunt, Acapulco.

After stalling off the coast for much of Tuesday, the system was moving west-southwest at 13 kilometers per hour, US and Mexican forecasters said.

Heavy rains had prompted the evacuations of some 1,500 people in the states of Guerrero and Michoacan, while schools closed and beach plans were upended for sun-seeking tourists.

Guerrero Governor Angel Aguirre said classes resumed without incident and that resorts were ready for tourists again.

"There are 1,500 people who will leave shelters in the next hours since many can return to their homes," he said.

But national weather officials urged locals to remain vigilant, warning downpours were expected to continue and that "the rains in recent days and even weeks have saturated soils."

Mexico is still recovering from floods and landslides unleashed by tropical storms Manuel and Ingrid last month, which left 157 people dead.

More than 50 people were evacuated from a storm-battered Japanese island Wednesday, where mudslides left 45 dead or missing last week, ahead of another typhoon expected to strike this weekend.

A total of 32 mostly elderly people in need of nursing care, attended by 19 others, disembarked from a chartered high-speed ferry at Tokyo port after a two-hour ride from Oshima, some 120 kilometres (75 miles) to the south, officials said.

A military helicopter was evacuating three other people from the volcanic Pacific island on the same day, said Masahiro Mukoyama, a senior official at the Oshima town office.

The town has chartered a ferry to get more people out on Thursday and later, the official said, as Typhoon Francisco lurked in the northwestern Pacific on course to hit Japan in a few days' time.

It was the first systematic evacuation from Oshima since 1986 when the island's volcano erupted and forced all 10,000 then-residents to flee by sea, Mukoyama said.

"A certain number of people have already left the island on a voluntary basis" in addition to those being evacuated, he said.

The evacuees were to be lodged at a sports facility and nursing homes in the capital.

There were about 500 more elderly people who need care, or who have mobility or other problems left on the island, an official from the town said.

Meanwhile, the death toll from the landslides a week ago rose to 30 as about 1,700 troops, police and firefighters continued searching for 15 others still unaccounted for.

The typhoon, which is packing winds of up to 144 kilometres (90 miles) per hour, was expected to bring more heavy rain to an already-sodden Pacific coastline, and further complicate efforts to find bodies on Oshima among the tonnes of mud.

The island, whose residents nowadays number 8,000, is a popular tourist spot. Around 210,000 people visited last year, drawn by plentiful camellia blooms and the volcano's accessible caldera.


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Hurricane Raymond weakens off Mexico coast
Zihuatanejo, Mexico (AFP) Oct 22, 2013
Hurricane Raymond weakened and barely budged off Mexico's Pacific coast Tuesday, dumping more rain in a region still recovering from a previous deadly storm. The new storm prompted some 1,500 people to leave their homes in the states of Guerrero and Michoacan while schools closed and beach plans were upended for tourists seeking sun in the resorts of Zihuatanejo and Acapulco. Raymond was ... read more

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