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A crawling Hurricane Otis batters Mexico coast

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico -- Hurricane Otis's outer bands lashed the coast of western Mexico yesterday as the storm crawled toward the Baja California peninsula, forcing hundreds of families to evacuate their homes and flooding roads in this resort city.

The Category 1 hurricane weakened but still had winds of up to 85 miles per hour as it headed northward off the coast of Baja. Forecasters expected Otis to skirt Cabo San Lucas and move ashore along a sparsely populated stretch of desert far north of the area as early as this evening, according to the US National Hurricane Center.

Narciso Agundez, governor of Baja California Sur State, ordered emergency personnel to the community of Comondu, as well as tourist-friendly Lorteo and Mulege, closer to where the center of Otis was likely to hit land. He asked soldiers to help evacuate the islands of Magdalena and Margarita, off the coast of Comondu.

Periods of strong winds and heavy rains were mixed with mostly sunny skies over Cabo San Lucas.

Calm prevailed in the hotel zones, but Mayor Luis Armando Diaz led voluntary evacuations from the city's poor outskirts, where many homes are little more than wood and metal shacks.

About 700 families had evacuated to shelters in Cabo San Lucas, and more than 200 families evacuated in San Jose del Cabo, a nearby tourist destination to the northeast.

There were also small-scale evacuations in Miraflores and Santiago, slightly further north.

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