MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Tropical storm Earl moved along Mexico's Gulf coast on Friday, dumping large amounts of rain in southern states after battering Belize, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

The hurricane center, in its 7 a.m. CDT (1100 GMT) update, said Earl was about 175 miles (282 kilometers) east southeast of Veracruz, with maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour (64 km per hour).

The storm will produce 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm) of rain in parts of the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca, Puebla, Tabasco and Veracruz, the hurricane center said. It said the rains could result in life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

Earl, which briefly reached hurricane status on Wednesday but was downgraded on Thursday, was expected to start weakening on Saturday as it moves into mainland Mexico.


Before crossing Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, Earl battered Belize earlier this week, smashing car windows and punching holes in the roofs of Belize City's wooden houses. It also downed trees and flooded parts of the coast.

State-owned oil company Pemex said late on Thursday it was monitoring Earl but that so far it had not needed to evacuate its offshore platforms.

(Reporting by Christine Murray; Editing by Bill Trott)

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