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Hurricane Dean Heads Back to Mexico

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Madeleine Brand.

Hurricane Dean is back over open water, and it's strengthened a bit. Winds are again up to 100 miles per hour. It is hitting a second part of Mexico's coastline - the state of Veracruz. And its battering offshore platforms where most of Mexico's oil wealth comes from. So far, no deaths have been reported in Mexico, and the country's tourist infrastructure was largely spared.

NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro has this update from Mexico City.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO: Schools in the state of Veracruz have been closed, and according of the state governor there at least 10,000 people have been evacuated on the mainland. Veracruz is a mountainous region and there are fears of mudslides.

Already in the nearby state of Campeche reports say that 70 percent of the oil city of Playa del Carmen has been flooded. For now, worries are centering though on Mexico's offshore oilrigs.

After leaving the Yucatan Peninsula, Dean moved into the Bay of Campeche in the southern Gulf of Mexico. That's home to more than 100 oil platforms, three major oil-exporting ports and the Cantarell oil field, Mexico's most productive. Operations have been shut down and the platforms evacuated. Over 18,000 Pemex staff have been removed and 80 percent of Mexico's crude production was shut down ahead of the arrival of Dean. That's greatly reduced Mexico's daily production of 2.7 million barrels of oil and 2.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day.

Dean crashed into Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula as a Category 5 storm, one of the strongest on record, but it luckily moved over largely uninhabited areas.

Still, not everyone came away unscathed. Hundreds of homes in the Caribbean town of Majahual reportedly collapsed.

Dean also washed away about half of the immense concrete pier that was used to dock cruise ships there. In Cancun, one of the beaches was washed away, a blow to one of the busiest tourist destinations in Mexico.

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro. NPR News, Mexico City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Lulu Garcia-Navarro is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday and one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. She is infamous in the IT department of NPR for losing laptops to bullets, hurricanes, and bomb blasts.
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