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Hurricane Odile lashes Baja California with strong winds, heavy rains

Hurricane Odile made landfall early Monday, punching the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula with strong winds and sending torrential rains across 10 Mexican states.

Rain and flooding forced evacuations along Mexico's Pacific Coast and dozens of rescues of people from stranded cars, authorities said. The ferocious hurricane smashed small buildings and left more than 200,000 people without electricity, officials and residents said.

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Foreign tourists and Mexicans took shelter in Los Cabos and other popular resort towns late Sunday as the storm approached. Authorities on Monday declared Baja California Sur a natural disaster.

The Category 3 hurricane, packing sustained winds of 115 mph, hit land around midnight local time; it was later downgraded to a Category 2. It came in the middle of a long Independence Day holiday weekend in Mexico, which had sent thousands of vacationers to Pacific beaches.

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Odile was also churning the ocean, sending waves of up to 24 feet crashing onto Mexican shores, the national meteorological service said, urging “extreme caution” by fishermen and others engaged in maritime activities.
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Luis Felipe Puente, head of the national public safety department, said via his Twitter account that Cabo San Lucas suffered substantial damage, including uprooted trees, downed light posts and broken windows at major hotels and other buildings. Waterlogged streets were full of debris early Monday.
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There were no immediate reports of deaths, while local media reported several people had been injured by flying glass.

At 4 a.m., Odile, which at one point reached Category 4, was located about 30 miles south-southwest of La Paz and about 60 miles north-northwest of Cabo San Lucas.

The meteorological service warned of "landslides, river overflows, cut off roadways, flooding in low-lying areas and saturated sewerage systems in urban zones."

"The population is called on to take extreme precautions and remain alert," the service said.

For news from Mexico and the Americas, follow @TracyKWilkinson on Twitter

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