Hurricane weakens after striking Mexico

Batten down the hatches: Shops in the city of Veracruz brace for Hurricane Franklin

A category-one hurricane weakened into a tropical storm Thursday after slamming into Mexico's eastern coast with powerful winds and heavy rain capable of producing deadly flash floods.

Hurricane Franklin made landfall near the town of Lechuguillas, northwest of the port of Veracruz, and weakened as it later passed over land close to Mexico City, the US National Hurricane Center said.

Veracruz state authorities declared a Red Alert but national civil protection coordinator Felipe Puente said later on television that the "toll was zero" and "no serious damage to infrastructure was recorded."

Franklin, the first hurricane of the 2017 season, was packing maximum sustained winds of 85 miles (140 kilometers) per hour when it struck the coast, the NHC said.

Three hours later, it weakened into a tropical storm as it moved inland, still bringing heavy rain and dangerous winds of 70 miles per hour.

"These rains are capable of producing life-threatening flash floods and mudslides," the NHC warned.

There were 90 cities and towns, with a total of more than two million residents, likely to feel the direct effects, said Veracruz state disaster management chief Yolanda Baizabal.

Classes, tourism activity and navigation were all suspended in the state on Wednesday, as Mexican soldiers and sailors were deployed to carry out preventive evacuations.

In nearby Puebla, state authorities prepared shelters for nearly 100,000 people who could be affected by the storm.

Soldiers and sailors also carried out preventive evacuations in the mountains of Puebla, where authorities fear that heavy rain could cause deadly landslides.

Franklin struck the Yucatan peninsula in eastern Mexico on Monday, and crossed the peninsula into the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday.

Mexico's long eastern coastline is often struck by storms during the Atlantic hurricane season.

The season runs from June 1 through November 30 although hurricanes may also occur outside this period.

In September 2013, Mexico was struck almost simultaneously by hurricanes Ingrid in the east and Manuel in the west, leaving some 157 dead in the southern state of Guerrero.