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Hurricane Lane Heading Toward Baja

September 15, 2006 GMT

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (AP) _ Tropical Storm Lane became a Category 1 hurricane Friday as it roared toward the tip of the Baja California Peninsula, lashing Mexico’s Pacific coast, flooding port cities and causing a landslide that killed a 7-year-old boy.

The Mexican government issued a hurricane warning for the southern tip of the peninsula, the prison colony of Islas Marias, and a 175-mile stretch of coastline on the mainland that includes the resort of Mazatlan.

The hurricane had maximum sustained winds near 80 mph and was expected to strengthen. It was located 280 miles southeast of the resort of Cabo San Lucas, moving northwest at 9 mph.

Lane was following the roughly the same path as Hurricane John, which raked Mexico’s Pacific coast early this month before slamming into Baja California, killing five people and damaging 160 homes.

It was forecast to move parallel to the coast, passing by Islas Marias later Friday before brushing the tip of the peninsula this weekend, then heading back toward the Mexican mainland. The eye of the storm was expected to hit land near Los Mochis early Monday.

The resort of Cabo San Lucas was sunny and hot Friday, but tourists were scrambling to catch flights before the storm hit.

Ellen Fiersten, from Springfield, Illinois, was spending her 60th birthday waiting in long lines at the airport.

``We were just happy to find a flight out,″ said the retiree. ``We’ve got a lot of family waiting at home, and they were going to be very worried. It’s paradise down here. You really never want to leave, especially not early.″

Alan Murphy, a 59-year-old retiree from Las Vegas, also wasn’t taking any chances. He was on a flight home Friday, three days before he was scheduled to end a deep-sea fishing trip.

``If it hits land, where do the tourists go?″ he said. ``They’ll have to evacuate, and we don’t want to be a part of that. They are going to get hit really bad. The highways are still really bad because of the last hurricane, and now they are going to get hit again.″

Residents, still recovering from John, were boarding up buildings again Friday and stocking up on supplies.

Lane was already causing flooding in the port city of Lazaro Cardenas in the central state of Michoacan, where more than 500 people were evacuated from their homes after a canal overflowed, officials said.

Earlier, the storm dumped rain and whipped up waves in Acapulco. Officials said a 7-year-old boy was killed late Thursday in a landslide caused by the heavy rains.

Authorities rescued three fisherman whose boat capsized but they were still looking for the captain, state officials said.

About 200 homes were flooded in the city, and authorities closed the port to small boats and shut down schools Friday across the state of Guerrero. Streets were covered in up to 16 inches of water _ including the beachside Costera Miguel Aleman, which runs past many luxury hotels.

There was also some flooding at the Acapulco airport, although service was not interrupted.

Forecasters warned Lane could dump up to 10 inches of rain and cause mudslides and flooding.


On the Net: National Hurricane Center: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov