OAXACA, Mexico, June 16, 2012 (AFP) - Two girls were killed when their house collapsed in southwestern Mexico in a mudslide under heavy rains unleashed by Hurricane Carlotta, local officials said Saturday.
The two sisters -- aged seven and 13 -- died in Oaxaca, after Carlotta made landfall late Friday as a category one storm on the five-point Saffir-Simpson scale, the state institute of Civil Protection said. Officials said the children's mother was seriously injured in the collapse of her house, made of brittle material and erected in a mountainous area near the Pacific coast. Elsewhere in Oaxaca's coastal area, authorities reported minor property damage, including roofs torn off by the force of the winds, falling trees blocking roads, power cuts and small-scale flooding. "The rains were very heavy on Friday, but this morning, there is decreased cloud cover as the storm faded," a civil protection official said.
Carlotta quickly petered out after making landfall just northwest of Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca state, and weakened to a tropical depression earlier Saturday over the mountains of southern Mexico. The Mexican government discontinued all watches and warnings over Carlotta, which was expected to slow down gradually into Sunday, although the storm or its remnants were forecast to remain inland over southern Mexico for the next day or two, according to the Miami-based US National Hurricane Center (NHC). The storm had whipped up large waves, and shipping was halted in the ports of Salina Cruz, Huatulco, Puerto Angel and Puerto Escondido, officials said. In preparation for landfall, Mexican authorities had set up 32 shelters able to hold 2,000 people, while auditoriums and other indoor spaces were readied as a precautionary measure. But at 1500 GMT, Carlotta was heading west-northwest at 19 kilometers (12 miles) per hour, with top winds of 56 kilometers (35 miles) per hour, according to the center. Carlotta was located about 80 kilometers (50 miles) north-northeast of the resort city of Acapulco.
The weather pattern was expected to dump up to 38 centimeters (15 inches) of rain in some areas. "These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides," the NHC said. But powerful wind gusts, a storm surge and strong waves associated with Carlotta were expected to gradually subside over the remainder of the day. Carlotta, however, is expected to spare a G20 summit opening Monday in Los Cabos, Mexico, at the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula well to the northwest of the affected zone.