World

Hurricane Agatha strengthens, spirals toward southern Mexico

The first hurricane of the eastern Pacific season strengthened on Sunday as it spiralled toward the southern coast of Mexico, with maximum sustained winds of 177 km/h that are expected to worsen before the storm makes landfall on Monday.

Storm expected to make landfall Monday, bring heavy rainfall to southern states

Waves crash in Tapachula, in Mexico's Chiapas state, on Sunday as Hurricane Agatha approaches the country's southern coast. (Jose Torres/Reuters)

The first hurricane of the eastern Pacific season strengthened on Sunday as it spiralled toward the southern coast of Mexico, with maximum sustained winds of 177 km/h that are expected to worsen before the storm makes landfall on Monday.

"Additional strengthening is expected during the next 12 to 24 hours and Agatha is forecast to become a major hurricane when it reaches the coast of southern Mexico on Monday," the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Florida said.

As of 4 p.m. Sunday Mexico City time, Hurricane Agatha was located about 300 kilometres southwest of Puerto Angel, according to the NHC.

Hurricane warnings have been declared for parts of the coast of Oaxaca, stretching from Salina Cruz to Lagunas de Chacahua, the NHC said.

"Storm surge is expected to produce extremely dangerous coastal flooding," it said.

Hurricane Agatha is seen off the Pacific coast of Mexico on Sunday in this satellite image. (NOAA/The Associated Press)

In Oaxaca, authorities have set up 200 shelters along the coastal region with the capacity to shelter 26,000 people, according to the local Civil Protection.

Some 5,000 tourists are expected to be in the impact zone, which is home to popular beach destinations.

The storm is expected to bring heavy rainfall to the southern states of Oaxaca, Chiapas and Guerrero, the NHC said, which could spark "life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides."

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