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Tourists flee Igor as Karl weakens

Tourists caught the last flights out of Bermuda and locals stocked up on emergency supplies on Saturday preparing for Hurricane Igor, while Mexicans mourned at least seven killed by Hurricane Karl.

An extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane earlier in the week, Igor was still a Category 2 storm, and officials warned that its pounding rains and driving winds could be deadly.

"This storm will be a long and punishing one," Public Safety Minister David Burch said. "The potential for injury and physical damage is great."

High surf kicked up by the storm has already swept two people out to sea in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, far to the south.

In Mexico, meanwhile, the remnants of Hurricane Karl soaked south-central portions of the country as authorities sent helicopters to rescue dozens of people stranded by flooding and hunt for others feared washed away.

At least seven fatalities were reported. A 61-year-old woman and a two-year-old girl died when a landslide buried a house in the town of Nexticapan in Puebla state. In Veracruz state, a woman and two young children were swept away by a rushing river in Cotaxtla and two women were found dead in Felipe Carrillo.

Tropical-storm-force winds were forecast to start battering Bermuda on Saturday night, with the hurricane expected to pass directly overhead or nearby late on Sunday or early Monday, according to the US National Hurricane Centre in Miami.

Igor had maximum sustained winds of 100 mph and was located about 285 miles south of Bermuda late on Saturday. Hurricane-force winds extended about 90 miles from the storm's centre, and it was headed north-northwest and expected to curve during the night toward the British Atlantic territory.

Tropical storm conditions were expected in Bermuda beginning on Saturday night, and forecasters said Igor could bring six to nine inches of rain and cause significant coastal flooding.

The government closed LF Wade International Airport and it is unlikely would reopen until Monday. A causeway from the east end of the island to the rest of Bermuda was also to be closed. The last plane to leave was a British Airways flight bound for London, which departed three hours earlier than usual.

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