Hurricane Barbara hits land in Mexico, two dead

OAXACA, Mexico (AFP) - Hurricane Barbara made landfall in Mexico's southern Pacific coast Wednesday, leaving at least two dead, including a 61-year-old United States (US) surfer who drowned under the waves, authorities said.

The storm, packing maximum sustained winds of 120kmh, hit land in the state of Chiapas, a rural region with archeological sites near the neighboring state of Oaxaca, the US National Hurricane Centre said.

The US man "was dragged by the waves and died" after he ignored a ban on entering the beach in the town of Salina Cruz in Oaxaca, state civil protection director Manuel Maza told AFP.

The second victim was a 27-year-old man who was swept away by an overflowing river in the Oaxaca town of Pinotepa Nacional, Mayor Carlos Sarabia said.

In the state of Guerrero, heavy rains flooded some streets of the resort city of Acapulco, with water levels reaching 52cm and sweeping away at least three cars, an AFP correspondent said.

In Oaxaca, authorities had urged residents to stay home, while the ports of Salina Cruz, Huatulco, Puerto Angel and Puerto Escondido were shut down. Some 200 families were taken to shelters, officials said.

Barbara grew into a category one hurricane - the lowest on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale - before making landfall 35km west of the Chiapas town of Tonala, the US hurricane centre said.

In its 2100 GMT (5am Singapore time) bulletin, the centre said a "prolonged threat of heavy rains" was expected but a "rapid weakening" of the storm would occur late Wednesday and that Barbara would "dissipate within the next day or so".

Mexico's National Water Commission warned that Barbara's winds could affect the neighboring states of Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Veracruz and Guerrero.

The storm was moving toward the northeast at 15kmh, the US hurricane centre said. Tropical force winds extend outward up to 110km from the storm's center.

Barbara was forecast to dump up to 25cm of rain over parts of Oaxaca and Chiapas, with as much as 50cm possibly falling in isolated areas of south-eastern Oaxaca, the center said.

"These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides," it warned. A storm surge would likely raise water levels by up to 1.5m on the coast.

In March 2012, two girls died and 25,000 homes were affected when Hurricane Carlotta tore across Oaxaca.