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Latino Daily News

Sunday August 12, 2012

Hurricane Ernesto’s Death Toll Reaches 7

Hurricane Ernesto’s Death Toll Reaches 7

Photo: Hurricane Ernesto

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The death toll from Ernesto, which first made landfall earlier this week as a low-level hurricane, has risen to seven after five more fatalities were reported in the Mexican Gulf coast state of Veracruz.

Three members of a family riding in their car in the town of Rio Blanco were killed when a tree fell on the vehicle, the spokesman for Veracruz’s emergency management office, Manuel Escalera, told Efe Friday.

Two other people drowned when they were swept away by a river in the Veracruz town of Tihuatlan, Gov. Javier Duarte said.

Another individual perished Thursday in the port city of Coatzacoalcos before Ernesto made landfall a second time as a tropical storm. That victim slipped and fell while doing repair work on his home, but local authorities determined the death was not related to the weather system.

Ernesto, since further downgraded to a remnant low-pressure area over southern Mexico, dumped torrential rain on 212 municipalities in Veracruz, where the emergency management office ordered at least 1,000 people to evacuate homes located along several river banks.

The storm caused damage to homes and road infrastructure and triggered some power outages and mudslides.

Duarte told a local radio station that Ernesto damaged roughly 600 homes and three bridges and that 11 municipalities were partially cut off when two mudslides forced the closure of a federal highway.

The storm first made landfall Tuesday night near Mahahual, a fishing town in the southeastern state of Quintana Roo, as a Category 1 hurricane packing winds of up to 165 kph (103 mph).

Ernesto crossed the Yucatan Peninsula on Wednesday without causing any casualties or serious damage and then moved back over water.

Early Thursday afternoon, it made landfall near Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, bringing winds of 96 kph (60 mph) and causing two deaths in the neighboring state of Tabasco.

One of the fatalities was a fisherman in the town of Centla who fell into a river and drowned while trying to secure his boat, a state emergency services official told Efe.

Meteorologists said the remnants of Ernesto will continue to drop heavy rain over the next couple of days in the central states of Puebla, Hidalgo and Queretaro.

The weakening system, which is forecast to continue moving west and exit land near Acapulco, could regain strength once again over the Pacific.