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Mexico's Pacific coast awaits Hurricane Raymond

Mexico's Pacific coast remains on alert for Hurricane Raymond, churning offshore and menacing the states of Guerrero and Michoacan. Schools and all beach and coastline activity are canceled in areas affected by Raymond.

A hurricane warning has gone into effect from Tecpan de Galeana, up the coast from Acapulco, north to the port of Lazaro Cardenas. Raymond, expected to strengthen through Wednesday, has already hit Category 3 on the five-tier scale of intensity, the Miami-based US National Hurricane Center (NHC) announced on Monday. Forecasters said that even if Raymond stays offshore, the storm could dump heavy rain and cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides along the south-central Mexican coast.

"There will be rain for the next 72 hours along the Pacific coast - very heavy rain, torrential rain," David Korenfeld, head of Mexico's National Water Commission, said on Sunday.

The storm had sustained winds of up to 195 kilometers per hour (120 mph) with higher gusts, and experts expect heavy rain and waves of over 3 meters (10 feet). For now, Raymond sits stationary over the ocean, about 250 kilometers west of Acapulco, the NHC announced. Experts expect it to move only a little closer to the coast by Tuesday before veering back out to sea on Wednesday.

Authorities went door-to-door in hillside communities, warning residents about the risks of floods and mudslides, but nobody had voluntarily evacuated yet to the three storm shelters set up in the town's schools and athletic facilities, municipal firefighter Jesus Guatemala said. Mexican authorities rushed to deploy emergency crews and said they have considered evacuating low-lying areas.

The state of Guerrero continues to recover after deadly flooding from hurricanes Manuel and Ingrid in September, which converged and killed about 150 people. Thousands have found themselves unable to go home a month after the storm inundated whole neighborhoods and caused landslides that buried much of one village, and some communities still lack telephones and electricity. The storms also left behind drenched hillsides that posed serious landslide risks.

mkg/dr (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)