Storm Octave on Mexico Pacific coast weakens

People traverse flood waters in the streets of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, in the early hours of the day on Monday, Oct 14, 2013, as heavy rain turns the streets into small rivers. Tropical Storm Octave pummelling Mexico's Baja California peninsula
People traverse flood waters in the streets of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, in the early hours of the day on Monday, Oct 14, 2013, as heavy rain turns the streets into small rivers. Tropical Storm Octave pummelling Mexico's Baja California peninsula fizzled overnight into a tropical depression, US weather forecasters said on Tuesday, Oct 15, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP

MIAMI (AFP) - Tropical Storm Octave pummelling Mexico's Baja California peninsula fizzled overnight into a tropical depression, US weather forecasters said on Tuesday.

Octave however is still forecast to dump heavy rain in the region, the US National Hurricane Centre said in its 0600 GMT bulletin.

All tropical storm warnings for Octave had been cancelled, as the storm's maximum sustained winds dropped to near 55 km per hour.

On the forecast track "the centre of Octave or its remnants will be moving over the southern Baja California peninsula and the Sea of Cortez on Tuesday", the NHC said.

Mexico however is still preparing for potentially deadly flooding and landslides, as Octave is expected to drop between one and six inches of rain across Baja California and the mainland state of Sonora, "with isolated maximum amounts of eight inches possible".

The storm however may already have claimed victims: a single-engine Cessna 208-B plane with 14 people aboard went missing on Monday after it took off from Loreto, a popular resort destination for Americans and Canadians in Baja California Sur state, officials said.

When the plane did not reach its destination a search was launched, but due to bad weather conditions related to Octave "we have unable to locate the airplane", read a statement from the secretariat of Communications and Transportation.

There was no immediate word on passengers on the plane which belongs to a charter company that flies between Baja California Sur and Sinaloa and Sonora states.

Octave arrives just three weeks after Mexico weathered the dual blast of storms Manuel and Ingrid.

At least 157 people were killed in the historic downpours, including 101 in the southern Guerrero state. Dozens were left missing in the mountainous village of La Pintada after a landslide buried a third of the community.

September's torrential rains left 1.7 million people homeless.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Priscilla, located some 970km southwest of the southern tip of Baja, weakened a bit, packing winds of up to 65 kph, the NHC said.

Priscilla, which was heading north and forecast to soon turn northwest and away from land, was expected to also further weaken into a tropical depression on Tuesday, the Miami-based centre said.