Police step up nighttime vigilance in Los Cabos amid looting, security concerns after Odile



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Mexico's government airlifted thousands of stranded foreign tourists out of the hurricane-ravaged resort of Los Cabos, as a weakened Odile headed over the Gulf of California Wednesday on a path toward Arizona. (Sept. 17)


SAN JOSE DEL CABO, Mexico — Police stepped up patrolling overnight in the resort area of Los Cabos, where looters stripped many stores of goods and tens of thousands faced a fourth day without water or power Thursday in the aftermath of Hurricane Odile.

Authorities told local radio that officers would stop and question anyone they found on the streets after nightfall Wednesday to make sure they had legitimate business at that hour. Officials stopped short of calling it a curfew.

The measure sought to allay security concerns after days of looting of everything from convenience stores to big-box retailers. Some residents worried that private homes and condos could be next.

"People are running down streets with shopping carts, and you can see the desperation," Madelynn Pase, a 23-year-old Canadian living in Los Cabos, said by phone. "The supermarkets are all empty, so they're going to go to the next best thing."

Pase said people had been walking around at night shining flashlights into residences including hers, and she worried it could be would-be robbers casing potential targets. She spent the previous two nights sleeping on the floor to make it seem like her place was abandoned, and therefore without any food inside.

After hammering the Baja California Peninsula and other parts of northern Mexico in recent days, the remnants of Odile took aim at the U.S. Southwest.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said parts of Arizona and New Mexico could get 6 to 9 inches (15 to 23 centimeters) of rain and warned of possible flash flooding. The Tucson area was forecast to bear the brunt of the storm, but Phoenix also might be lashed with rain and heavy winds.

To the south, Hurricane Polo was off Mexico's Pacific coast and headed in the general direction of Los Cabos, although early predictions were for the center to remain offshore.

President Enrique Pena Nieto's office said the federal government was working closely with state authorities on relief efforts in the areas battered by Odile, including restoring water and electricity.

It said more than 239,000 people had their power knocked out by the storm, but predicted 95 percent of electrical service would be restored in the coming days.

In Los Cabos, people helped themselves to food, water, soda and toilet paper at wrecked supermarkets Wednesday. Some also loaded trucks with things like appliances, mattresses and patio furniture.

Long lines formed at tortilla shops and at stores selling ice as people tried to feed themselves and keep what food they had from going bad in the sweltering heat.

Lines also snaked from the couple of gas stations still working. Customers were each limited to 150 pesos' ($11) worth of fuel, about 12 liters (3 gallons).

At the Best Western near Los Cabos airport, guests filled buckets with pool water to flush their toilets.

Authorities said they had flown 5,000 tourists out of the region by Wednesday afternoon. Officials estimated 30,000 travelers were stranded by the storm.

Government planes were also flying in water and other supplies

The remnants of Odile were over Arizona on Wednesday night.

The hurricane center said Polo was moving toward a possible brush of Los Cabos by Sunday, though its core was projected to stay offshore.

The storm was 165 miles (265 kilometers) south-southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph). It was moving west-northwest at 8 mph (13 kph).

In the central Atlantic, Hurricane Edouard was forecast to remain far from land, although swells could cause dangerous surf along parts of the U.S. East Coast north of Florida and Canada.


Associated Press writer Peter Orsi in Mexico City contributed to this report.

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