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Monday October 21, 2013 MYT 2:22:33 PM
Monday October 21, 2013 MYT 2:23:38 PM
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Schools were to stay closed on Mexico's southern Pacific coast on Monday as a region still reeling from record flooding battened down the hatches against the advance of a hurricane blowing winds of over 100 mph.
Raymond, a strong category two hurricane, is rumbling slowly toward Acapulco, threatening the beach resort with more heavy rain just weeks after storms knocked out its airport, wrecking homes, roads and cars, and stranding thousands of tourists.
The Miami-based National Hurricane Center said Raymond could become a major, or category three hurricane, at any time. The hurricane is likely to become stationary as it gets close to the coast late on Monday or on Tuesday, the NHC said.
Late on Sunday, authorities ordered classes suspended in Acapulco, the port of Lazaro Cardenas and other parts of the southwestern coastline of Mexico threatened by Raymond.
Mexico has no major oil installations in the path of the hurricane, which is blowing winds of up to 110 mph (177 kph).
Hurricane alerts were issued from Acapulco, which lies in Guerrero state, to Lazaro Cardenas to the northwest in Michoacan state.
Angel Aguirre, the governor of Guerrero, urged people to leave areas at high risk of flooding, and Michoacan's government said all maritime activity and road travel should be avoided.
In mid-September, Mexico suffered its worst floods on record when tropical storms Manuel and Ingrid converged from the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico, killing more than 150 people and causing damage estimated at around $6 billion.
Acapulco, whose economy relies heavily on tourism, suffered its worst hotel occupancy rates on record after those storms and is only just beginning to recover.
Up to 15 cm (6 inches) of rain could hit the coast, Mexico's national meteorological service (SMN) forecast.
Mexico's Gulf Coast is also facing heavy rains due to the advance of a cold front from the north, the government said.
The flooding, mudslides and displacement of thousands of people caused by the recent storms have heightened the risk of diarrheal illness in Mexico. The country is experiencing its first local transmission of cholera in just over a decade.
As of early Monday morning, Raymond was swirling about 165 miles (265 km) west-southwest of Acapulco, having "hesitated" south of the Mexican coastline, the NHC said. The hurricane is moving north at about 4 mph (6 kph), the center added.
(Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by John Stonestreet)
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