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Hurricane Karl slams Mexico's Gulf Coast

VERACRUZ, Mexico — Hurricane Karl smashed into Mexico's Gulf Coast on Friday, killing at least two people and forcing the country to shut down its only nuclear power plant and its central Gulf Coast oil platforms.

As the storm pushed inland, a landslide buried a house in the town of Nexticapan, killing a 61-year-old woman and a 2-year-old girl and injuring two other people, said Aru Becerra, a spokeswoman for Civil Protection in Puebla state.

Karl weakened rapidly into a tropical storm with winds of 70 mph as it slogged across central Mexico. It was on track to pass south of Mexico City, where the skies darkened and rain started falling Friday evening.

The storm had sustained winds of 115 mph when it hit land at midday about 10 miles northwest of Veracruz.

It caused widespread damage in the port city, knocking down trees, billboards and power poles, said Veracruz's civil protection chief, Isidro Cano Luna. He said there had not been a storm like it since Hurricane Janet hit in 1955.

Veracruz state Gov. Fidel Herrera surveyed the heaviest damage in the coastal towns north of the port. Food huts along the beach were destroyed in the fishing town of Chachalaca. In Ursulo Galvan, 10 homes collapsed or lost their roofs.

"The hurricane is following a course that will also impact the mountain areas," Herrera said. "We are releasing more water from the reservoirs, which could be overwhelmed by the rain."

In the city of Veracruz, hundreds of fallen trees and signs made some streets impassable and about 70 homes were flooded.

Local forecasters said the storm dumped 8 inches of rain in the city just in the first 90 minutes after arriving. Flights into Veracruz were canceled, and public transit was shut down.

Meanwhile, out in the Atlantic, Hurricane Igor's top winds weakened Friday to 105 mph on a track that could take it over Bermuda by Monday. The British territory's government issued a hurricane warning.

Farther east over the Atlantic, Hurricane Julia weakened slightly Friday but remained a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph.

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