Latin America & Caribbean

Hurricane Alex makes landfall in north-eastern Mexico

Hurricane Alex has made landfall in north-eastern Mexico, bringing heavy rains and winds.

Thousands of people were evacuated from low-lying areas before the arrival of the category two storm.

The storm's winds are expected to hit southern Texas, where a state of emergency has been declared.

Heavy seas caused by the storm were also disrupting BP's oil spill clean-up in the Gulf of Mexico. Alex later weakened to a category one storm.

Boats skimming the slick have been sent back to port by the US Coast Guard.

High waves and strong winds generated by the hurricane have also pushed more oil from the spill on to beaches in Louisiana.

However, the storm is not stopping oil recovery at the scene of the leak, 50 miles (80km) off the Louisiana coast.

Storm surge warning

Alex made landfall at Soto La Marina in Mexico's Tamaulipas state at about 2200 local time on Wednesday (0200 GMT on Thursday), the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

The storm, which is moving west at about 10mph, is about 110 miles south of Brownsville, Texas.

The NHC said the storm had sustained winds of 85mph (137km/h).

Heavy rains had already flooded roads in the Mexican town of Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville.

And thousands of Mexicans living in fishing villages along the Gulf Coast had fled inland to take refuge in storm shelters.

The NHC warned earlier that torrential rain could cause flash floods and mudslides in north-eastern Mexico and southern Texas.

It also warned of a storm surge of up to 5ft (1.5m) spreading several miles inland along the affected coast.

Alex is expected to weaken further as it moves inland in Mexico, the NHC says.

But it says that "Alex is expected to weaken to a tropical storm (on Thursday) and dissipate over Mexico by Friday".

It is the first Atlantic hurricane to have formed as early as June since 1995.

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