VERACRUZ, Mexico (AP) — Hurricane Grace hit Mexico’s Gulf shore as a major Category 3 storm before weakening on Saturday, drenching coastal and inland areas in its second landfall in the country in two days. At least eight people died, authorities said.
The storm had lost power while crossing over the Yucatan Peninsula on Thursday, swirling through Mexico’s main tourist strip, but it rapidly drew in power from the relatively warm Gulf of Mexico before reaching the Mexican coast again late Friday.
At least eight people, including children, died and three were missing after mudslides and flooding, said Cuitláhuac García, governor of Mexico’s Veracruz state. García said 330,000 people lost power in the storm but it was gradually being restored.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Grace, downgraded to a tropical storm on Saturday, had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 kph). It was centered about 35 miles (55 kilometers) northwest of Mexico City, southeast of Tuxpan and heading west-southwest at 13 mph (20 kph).
Grace lost strength as it swirled inland over a mountain range carrying its heavy rains toward the heart of the country, including the Mexico City region.
Hours before nearing shore on Friday, Grace caused strong winds, high waves and rain in the Veracruz communities of Tuxpan, Poza Rica, Xalapa and Veracruz city as well as in coastal towns in the states of Tabasco and Tamaulipas, Mexico’s meteorological agency said.
Fishermen pulled their boats out of the water and carried them inside harbors to prevent damage as the storm’s leading edge whipped at the coast. Merchants boarded up the windows of their businesses to protect them.
The hurricane hit early Thursday near Tulum, a Yucatan resort town famed for its Mayan ruins. Some families passed harrowing hours sheltering from cracking trees and flying debris.