Tropical Storm Melissa Strengthens in Atlantic; Lorenzo’s Rains Kill 5

October 1, 2007

Floodwaters from Hurricane Lorenzo were receding Sept. 29 in eastern Mexico after rains triggered mudslides and floods that killed at least five people and drove tens of thousands from their homes.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Melissa was gaining strength over the eastern Atlantic, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said. Melissa had sustained winds of 45 mph, but posed no immediate threat to land.

In the eastern Pacific, Tropical Storm Juliette was about 500 miles off the coast of Mexico and was no threat to land.

Atlantic Tropical Storm Karen faded into a tropical depression and was likely to dissipate soon, with winds of 35 mph about 495 miles east of the Leeward Islands.

Lorenzo hit Mexico’s Gulf coast on Friday and quickly faded into a potent rainstorm as it moved over the lush, ravine-cut mountains of east-central Mexico, dumping more than 13 inches of rain in some areas in less than a day.

In hard-hit parts of Veracruz state, streets remained flooded by weather that ripped roofs off some 2,000 homes and swept cars away.

Residents in the oil city of Poza Rica fled their homes as the water rose.

“My son and I left home with just two changes of clothes, we didn’t have time to return for our other things, and the water came quickly and filled all the houses,” said Laura Fernandez Rosas, of Poza Rica.

In Mexico’s Puebla state, a hillside gave way in the village of Ixtaczoquitla, burying a 26-year-old woman and two girls, ages 3 and 5, who appeared to be her daughters, the state government reportd.

A 9-year-old girl died in the village of Rancho Nuevo and a 19-year-old man was missing, washed away by a flooded river, the government reported.

In neighboring Veracruz state, an 83-year-old man died after falling into a hole in drenched soil near his home, local police said.

Veracruz’s chief civil defense official, Ranulfo Marquez, said it could take weeks for all flooding to subside.

Marquez said hundreds of homes had been flooded, 2,000 roofs blown off and 30,000 people forced from their homes in Veracruz state. Thousands also were evacuated in Puebla state.

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