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Hurricane Frank leaves death, destruction behind as it moves off shore

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • NEW: Hurricane Frank is about 380 miles south of Baja California, with 80 mph winds
  • It is expected to gradually weaken starting Friday
  • Two Frank-related mudslides caused four deaths in southern Mexico's Oaxaca state
  • Frank is the third hurricane in the Pacific Ocean in 2010

(CNN) -- As Hurricane Frank gained strength far from land over the Pacific Ocean on Thursday morning, southern Mexico dealt with the aftermath of the system's assault on the mainland earlier in the week.

Frank was packing sustained winds of 80 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center's latest "tropical weather discussion."

The hurricane was about 380 miles (610 kilometers) south of the southern tip of Baja California, the center's 11 a.m. Thursday advisory said.

Hurricane center meteorologists predicted the system's strength -- currently Category 1 (74 to 95 mph) -- would change little Thursday, and then would gradually begin weakening on Friday.

But Frank had already done plenty of damage -- and as a tropical storm (39 to 73 mph sustained winds), no less -- before growing into a hurricane.

Four people died and at least 30,000 residents in southern Mexico were affected by heavy rain and winds from the former Tropical Storm Frank, the government-run Notimex news agency said Wednesday.

The deaths and damage occurred in Oaxaca state, on Mexico's Pacific coast, Notimex said.

A mudslide in the municipality of Totontepec Villa de Morelos killed two farm workers, the news agency said. A mudslide in another part of Oaxaca caused at least six vehicles to drive off Federal Highway 182, leading to another two deaths, Notimex said.

Several rain-swollen rivers -- including the Valle Nacional and the Atoyac -- overflowed their banks, affecting at least 10,000 people and leading to the loss of 4 tons of corn and 50 head of cattle, it said.

Hundreds of people have been evacuated and placed in temporary shelters, officials said.

In the nearby state of Tabasco, also in southern Mexico but on the Gulf of Mexico coast, heavy rain affected 48 localities and nearly 7,700 people, Notimex said.

Frank is the third hurricane in the Pacific Ocean this year, following Celia and Darby.

CNN's Arthur Brice contributed to this report