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Big storms hit Mexico from opposite directions; at least 21 dead in mudslides, floods

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ACAPULCO, Mexico - The remnants of Tropical Storm Manuel continued to deluge Mexico's southwestern Pacific shoulder with dangerous rains while Hurricane Ingrid headed for a Monday landfall on the country's opposite coast in an unusual double onslaught that federal authorities said had caused at least 21 deaths.

The heaviest blow Sunday fell on the southern coastal state of Guerrero, where Mexico's government reported 14 confirmed deaths. State officials said people had been killed in landslides, drownings in a swollen river and a truck crash on a rain-slickened mountain highway.

Mexico's federal Civil Protection co-ordinator, Luis Felipe Puente, told reporters late Sunday that stormy weather from one or both of the two systems also caused three deaths in Hidalgo, three in Puebla and one in Oaxaca.

Getting hit by a tropical storm and a hurricane at the same time "is completely atypical" for Mexico, Juan Manuel Caballero, co-ordinator of the country's National Weather Service, said at a news conference with Puente.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Ingrid, the second hurricane of the Atlantic storm season, could reach the mainland by Monday morning or early afternoon, most likely along the lightly populated coast north of the port of Tampico.

Authorities in the Gulf states of Tamaulipas and Veracruz evacuated more than 7,000 people from low-lying areas as the hurricane closed in, and the prospect of severe weather prompted some communities to cancel Independence Day celebrations planned for Sunday and Monday.

Manuel came ashore as a tropical storm Sunday afternoon near the Pacific port of Manzanillo, but quickly began losing strength and was downgraded to a tropical depression late Sunday, although officials warned its rains could still cause flash floods and mudslides. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the system dissipated early Monday.

The rains caused some rivers to overflow in Guerrero, damaging hundreds of homes and disrupting communications for several hours.

Early Monday, Manuel's remnants had maximum sustained winds of about 30 mph (45 kph) and was moving to the northwest at 8 mph (13 kph). It was about 5 miles (10 kilometres) west of Puerto Vallarta.

Manuel was expected to dump up to 10 to 15 inches of rain over parts of Guerrero and Michoacan states, with maximums of 25 inches possible in some isolated areas. Rains of 5 to 10 inches were possible in the states of Colima, Jalisco and Nayarit. Authorities said the rains presented a dangerous threat in mountains, where flash floods and mudslides were possible.

Ingrid also was expected to bring very heavy rains. It had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph) early Monday and was centred about 95 miles (155 kilometres) north-northeast of the port city of Tampico as it moved west-northwest at 7 mph (11 kph). A hurricane warning was in effect from Cabo Rojo to La Pesca.

More than 1,000 homes in Veracruz state had been affected by the storm to varying degrees, and 20 highways and 12 bridges had damage, the state's civil protection authority said. A bridge collapsed near the northern Veracruz city of Misantla on Friday, cutting off the area from the state capital, Xalapa.

A week ago, 13 people died in the state when a landslide buried their homes in heavy rains spawned by Tropical Depression Fernand.

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Associated Press writers Rodrigo Soberanes Santin in Xalapa, Efrain Klerigan in Ciudad Victoria and Rodrigo Soberanes Santin in Veracruz contributed to this report.

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