VERACRUZ, Mexico - Mexican authorities evacuated about 5,000 people as Hurricane Ingrid gained strength and threatened to lash Mexico with heavy rains and floods when it is set to make landfall Monday.
The major storm comes just days after heavy rains lashed the southeastern state of Veracruz, killing 14 people this week alone, including 13 who died when a landslide crushed their homes in a mountainous region of the Gulf Coast state.
Veracruz emergency services chief Ricardo Maza Limon told AFP that about 5,000 people living on the banks of the Tecolutla River had been evacuated, and at least 20 bridges were damaged during rains in the north of the state that cut off 71 communities.
At 0900 GMT, the second hurricane of the 2013 season was packing top winds of 85 miles (138 kilometers) per hour as it headed northwest at seven miles per hour, the US National Hurricane Center said.
The hurricane was located about 160 miles east of Tampico, off Mexico's Gulf Coast, with the NHC warning that the storm was bringing "very heavy rains and dangerous floods."
The Mexican government issued a hurricane watch from north of La Pesca to Bahia Algodone.
A hurricane warning was also in effect from Cab Rojo to La Pesca, meaning that hurricane conditions where expected in that area within 36 hours.
"Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion," the NHC said.
Ingrid was expected to strengthen further before making landfall as it makes a turn toward the northwest by early Sunday followed by a shift toward the West by early Monday.
Forecasters said Ingrid would likely dump 10 to 15 inches (25-38 centimeters) of rain over a large swathe of eastern Mexico, though some mountainous areas could experience up to 25 inches of rainfall.