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State of Emergency declared for Texas as Hurricane Alex Sweeps in

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Texas on alert as Hurricane Alex sweeps in

US President Barack Obama has declared a state of emergency in Texas as Hurricane Alex bears down on the coast with 80mph (130km/h) winds.

Alex is expected to make landfall near the Texas-Mexico border as a category two hurricane, forecasters say.

Heavy seas caused by the first Atlantic hurricane of the season have already disrupted BP's oil spill clean-up in the Gulf of Mexico.

Boats skimming the slick have been sent back to port by the US Coast Guard.

High waves and strong winds generated by Alex have also pushed more oil from the spill on to beaches in Louisiana.

"The sad thing is that it has been about three weeks since we had any big oil come in here," said marine science technician Michael Malone.

"With this weather, we lost all the progress we made," he added.

A huge oil patch has been pushed towards Louisiana's Grand Isle and the uninhabited Elmer's Island, dumping large tar balls on the beach.

Oil dispersant flights and controlled burning operations in the Gulf of Mexico have also been postponed.

However, Alex is not stopping oil recovery at the scene of the leak 50 miles (80km) off the Louisiana coast.

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Two vessels are capturing oil gushing from the wreck of the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig despite waves of up to 7ft (2.1m).

The deployment of a third vessel has been delayed until the weather improves.

A containment cap is capturing up to 25,000 of the estimated 30,000 to 60,000 barrels of crude spewing from the ruptured well every day.

President Obama's emergency declaration allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) to co-ordinate disaster relief efforts, the White House said.

Alex, currently a category one hurricane, is strengthening and expected to make landfall late on Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said.

The centre warned that torrential rain could cause flash floods and mudslides in north-eastern Mexico and southern Texas.

It also warns of a storm surge of up to 5ft (1.5m) spreading several miles inland along the affected coast.

Source


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