Hurricane Cristina strengthens to Category 3 off south-west coast of Mexico: US

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Hurricane Cristina has quickly strengthened into a Category 3 hurricane off the south-west coast of Mexico, the United States National Hurricane Centre said on Thursday.

Cristina is now packing maximum sustained winds of 195 kmh as it moves west-north-west at a speed of 13 kmh, the Miami-based centre said.

It is classified as Category 3 on a scale of one to five - five being the highest - based on wind speed.

Category 3 and above are considered major hurricanes due to their potential for significant loss of life and damage, the centre says.

In its 9am GMT bulletin, the centre said Cristina is located 390km south of the town of Manzanillo.

Swells caused by Cristina have hit parts of the south-western coast of Mexico and could cause life-threatening surf and rip tides, the agency said.