September 4, 2006

At Least Three Killed by Hurricane John

LA PAZ, Mexico -- At least three people, including one Briton, were killed when Hurricane John slammed into Mexico's Baja California peninsula, authorities said on Monday.

Three other people are missing after the passage of John, which has been downgraded to a tropical depression, and is now off the west coast of Baja California state and dumping rains on southern U.S. States. But the storm is no longer a major threat.

A British tourist was found drowned on the west coast of Baja California Sur state after his camper trailer was dragged away by a flooding river, the state government said.

The two other dead were Mexicans who also drowned when they were swept away by swollen rivers in separate accidents.

Originally, the civil protection rescue agency said that no one was killed in Baja California Sur state by the storm. But the fatalities came to light in remote regions to the north of the state capital La Paz.

Hurricane John blasted the tourist port city of La Paz late Friday and over the weekend with wicked winds and torrential rain that knocked out power and flooded streets.

The storm flattened trees and up to 40 electric power poles and sent advertising signs flying in city and about 4,000 people living in low-lying areas of La Paz were moved to shelters.

It also sent tourists fleeing in the elegant seaside resort of Los Cabos, further to the west on the tip of the Baja peninsula, which extends about 680 miles south from the U.S. border.

Hundreds of vacationers, mainly from the United States, took flights home early and others holed up in hotel shelters as the storm threatened to hit the resort head on.

But it veered away from Los Cabos just before making landfall, and only flooded roads as muddy rainwater and debris from surrounding hills poured down unpaved streets.

The Miami-based National Hurricane Center said on Monday that there was "not much left of John" and it would fizzle out later in the day but could still dump rain over the United States on Tuesday.

"Moisture from John could help produce 1 to 3 inches over the southwestern United States and western Texas through Tuesday," the center said.