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Tropical storm Gamma leaves 6 dead as thousands evacuate in southeastern Mexico

People rescue their belongings after a flood due to heavy rains by the tropical storm Gamma, at Las Gaviotas colony in Tabasco, Mexico, 04 October 2020.
People rescue their belongings after a flood due to heavy rains by the tropical storm Gamma, at Las Gaviotas colony in Tabasco, Mexico, 04 October 2020. EPA/Jaime Avalos

At least 6 people died and thousands were evacuated in southeastern Mexico after Tropical Storm Gamma lashed the Yucatan Peninsula’s resort-studded coast with near-hurricane force winds and drenched Tabasco and Chiapas states, authorities said Sunday.

Mexico’s civil defence agency said in a statement that four of the deaths, including two children, were in Chiapas, where a landslide on a mountainous slope buried their home. The other two deaths were in Tabasco state, where one person was dragged away by the water and another drowned..

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Gamma, along with cold fronts, combined over the weekend to cause extreme rains in parts of the Yucatan Peninsula and Chiapas, affecting more than half a million people. The hardest-hit state was Tabasco, where more than 3,400 were evacuated to shelters.

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The storm came ashore Saturday near Tulum with maximum sustained winds of nearly 70 mph (110 kph) — 4 mph (9 kph short of hurricane force), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

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Mexican authorities continued to warn people in the Yucatan on Sunday afternoon as Gamma remained stalled offshore. The hurricane centre said Gamma was about 130 miles (205 kms) northeast of Progreso, Mexico, and had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph).

The state’s tourism department reported Friday on Twitter that more than 41,000 tourists were present in Quintana Roo, with hotels in Cancun and Cozumel already at more than 30 per cent occupancy. The area only recently reopened to tourism after a pandemic shutdown.