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Hurricane Nate: Storm heads to New Orleans

A state of emergency has been declared in four southern US states with as Hurricane Nate gathering strength as it heads towards the Gulf Coast.

Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and parts of Florida have issued hurricane warnings and evacuation orders.

The measures apply to parts of the city of New Orleans, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina 12 years ago.

Nate killed at least 25 people as it swept through Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Honduras as a tropical storm.

The storm, which brushed past Mexican beach resorts, is still strengthening, and is now expected to make landfall as a category two hurricane overnight.

Though not as strong as last month’s Maria and Irma, Nate will still bring strong winds and storm surges. Its latest recorded wind speeds reached 90mph (150km/h).

The hurricane warning issued to parts of the Gulf Coast includes the threat of life-threatening storm surge flooding. Evacuation orders have been put in place for some low-lying areas.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency ahead of the hurricane, which is due to make landfall on Saturday night local time.

He said more than 1,000 National Guard troops had been mobilised with a number sent to New Orleans to monitor the drainage pumps there. “Anyone in low-lying areas… we are urging them to prepare now,” he said.

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A mandatory curfew from 18:00 (23:00 GMT) is in place in New Orleans.

“Nate is at our doorstep, or will be soon,” the city’s Mayor Mitch Landrieu said, adding that the winds could cause significant power outages.

“We have been through this many, many times, there is no need to panic,” he added.

Nate went past Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula – home to the popular beach resorts of Cancun and Playa del Carmen – on Friday night as it headed north, the US National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

The governor of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, Carlos Joaquin, earlier said that although the worst of the storm had been expected to pass just east of the peninsula, it could still bring torrential rains and flooding.

Oil companies were evacuating staff from platforms in the Gulf of Mexico ahead of the storm.

Nate caused heavy rains, landslides and floods which blocked roads, destroyed bridges and damaged houses as it tore through central America.

At least 13 people died in Nicaragua, eight in Costa Rica, three in Honduras and one in El Salvador.

Thousands have been forced to sleep in shelters and some 400,000 people in Costa Rica were reported to be without running water.


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