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September 1, 2009

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Dangerous hurricane threatens Mexico

HURRICANE Jimena, a dangerous Category 4 storm, churned northward off Mexico's Pacific coast yesterday, headed for the upscale resort of Los Cabos, where officials from dozens of countries will meet this week to discuss tax havens.

Residents and tourists in the southern Baja California Peninsula stocked up on food and fuel as the United States National Hurricane Center forecast Jimena would buffet the area today and the Mexican government issued a hurricane watch.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said it was going ahead with a meeting in Los Cabos today and tomorrow. Many of the delegates from about 70 countries had already arrived.

OECD head Angel Gurria will be at the talks, aimed at persuading more countries to share tax information.

Jimena, a small but powerful storm which built up fast over the weekend, was packing 230-kilometer-per-hour winds with higher gusts. According to the five-step Saffir-Simpson intensity scale, Category 4 hurricanes are "extremely dangerous" and can cause devastating damage if they hit land.

The storm was a safe distance from shore and Los Cabos was overcast but calm yesterday, but hurricane conditions were possible there within 36 hours.

The hurricane center said people in central Baja California Peninsula and western mainland Mexico should monitor the storm as more watches could be issued.

"I'm a little nervous about this one because my husband is out of town and it will be my first hurricane alone," said Christy Dobson, an 11-year resident of Los Cabos.

The Baja California Peninsula is a sparsely populated strip of desert, mountain ranges and shrublands, but coastal resorts like Los Cabos and La Paz are big vacation spots.


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