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Two killed as Hurricane Alex batters Gulf coast

The after effects of Hurricane Alex have drenched much of northern Mexico, killing two and paralysing the major city of Monterrey.

The deaths occured as Alex ripped off roofs, caused severe flooding and forced thousands of people to flee coastal fishing villages.

The country’s Televisa Monterrey network reported that one man died when he was swept away by a torrent of water along a six-lane highway; another man was found drowned by side of a creek.

The hurricane hit land on Wednesday evening in the border state of Tamaulipas. Alex weakened to a tropical storm today as it moved west to Nuevo Leon state, but still caused major disruptions.

Nuevo Leon state governor Rodrigo Medina de la Cruz told the Televisa network he had ordered all schools closed and appealed for people to stay home from all but essential jobs.

The US Consulate in Monterrey also closed due to the storm. Schools were also cancelled in Tamaulipas state, where clean-up efforts began and flood waters started subsiding.

Mr de la Cruz said Alex had already dumped 16 inches of rain in some areas.

Crews swept up debris in Matamoros, a city across the border from Brownsville, Texas. Emergency officials still had to use boats to survey the damage in some neighbourhoods.

Most of the 2,500 people who stayed in shelters overnight boarded buses back to their coastal villages today after lining up for breakfast served by marines.

Raging winds knocked down hundreds of trees, telephone posts and traffic lights in the Matamoros area and further south along Mexico’s northern Gulf coast.

Power and telephone services were out in San Fernando, a town near where Alex made landfall, and in the state capital of Ciudad Victoria.

Abel Ramirez, of San Fernando’s Civil Protection and Fire Department, said seven fishing villages with a combined population of about 5,000 people were evacuated.

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