At least eight people are dead and another three missing after Hurricane Grace, a category 3 hurricane, made landfall south of Tuxpan on the eastern coast of Mexico early Saturday.
Seven of the deceased are from Xalapa and one is from Poza Rica, in the Mexican state of Veracruz, and six of the victims are from the same family, Governor Cuitlahuac Garcia Jimenez of Veracruz said during a press conference.
Mexico’s president has urged residents in its path to seek refuge in shelters or on higher ground.
Hurricane Grace made landfall in the Gulf Coast of Mexico with maximum sustained winds of at least 120 mph. Strong winds will continue to batter the region through the morning hours, the National Hurricane Center said.
After plowing through the Yucatan Peninsula, Grace weakened to a tropical storm before regaining hurricane strength and hitting Veracruz. After making landfall, Grace was once again downgraded to a tropical storm, Mexico’s National Meteorology Service said in a tweet.
Heavy rainfall, with isolated amounts over a foot, will bring the risk of flash flooding and mudslides through the weekend, the center said.
Veracruz, Puebla, Tlaxcala, Hidalgo, northern Querétaro and eastern San Luis Potosí could see significant flash and urban flooding as well as mudslides through the weekend. Those areas may get 6 to 12 inches of rain with isolated totals up to 18 inches through Sunday, the hurricane center said.
A state of emergency is still in place for the area, Garcia Jimenez said. “We ask that you follow evacuation orders,” he said.
Late Friday, Mexico’s civil protection authority in Veracruz issued an emergency declaration for 22 municipalities ahead of Grace’s landfall.
The declaration has allowed authorities access to resources to provide food, shelter and health care to the affected population.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said 7,829 civil protection elements, personnel from the Ministry of Defense, the Navy and the Federal Electricity Commission are standing by.
“I join the call to ask the people of Veracruz, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas, and Hidalgo to seek refuge in high places with relatives and in shelters that are being set up,” López Obrador said.
This is the second time Grace hits Mexico
Grace had already made landfall in Mexico, plunging through the Yucatan Peninsula on Thursday before weakening to a tropical storm, with sustained winds of 80 mph.
The eastern coast of the Yucatán, including Cancun, Cozumel and Punta Herrero, were under a hurricane warning since Tuesday due to Grace strengthening as it moved west, battering Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.
Earlier this week, Grace passed over Haiti, which is recovering from a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that killed least at 1,941 people. About 1.2 million people, including 540,000 children, were affected by the earthquake, according to UNICEF.
CNN’s Karol Suarez, Florencia Trucco, Gene Norman, Haley Brink, Michael Guy, Travis Caldwell, Claudia Dominguez and Judson Jones contributed to this report.