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Hurricane Patricia: Mexico bears strongest storm ever recorded in Western Hemisphere -

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NICK GRIMM: Packing winds up to 325 kilometres an hour, a fierce hurricane described as the one of the most powerful storms ever recorded, is this morning bearing down on Mexico.

Hurricane Patricia, as it's been dubbed, is set to be the worst yet experienced in the Western Hemisphere and there are grave predictions of catastrophic consequences when it hits land.

(Sound of sirens and emergency loudspeakers)

As the storm approaches emergency sirens and loudspeakers have been warning locals and tourists alike to evacuate low-lying areas and head to higher ground.

For more on the preparations now underway I spoke to a local aid worker based in Mexico City, Anthony Caswell Perez with Save the Children.

Anthony Caswell Perez, this sounds like a huge storm that's bearing down on the coast of Mexico right now?

ANTHONY CASWELL PEREZ: Yes, it is. It's a category five. Mexico hasn't seen anything this strong in recent history.

And the government's taking this very seriously. They have mobilised civil protection as well as the armed forces to be able to provide whatever humanitarian aid is required.

They're evacuating people from the region. They're evacuating locals. There's an estimate of more than 50,000 people being evacuated currently.

NICK GRIMM: And the coastal areas are being warned to brace for high winds, storm surges as well. But of course, there will be a lot of rain dumped over more inland areas, it's to be anticipated?

ANTHONY CASWELL PEREZ: Oh, absolutely. And there's a particular worry about landslides because the west coast is very mountainous. A lot of the populations that are on mountainsides, hillsides are being evacuated, precisely because we're expecting over one metre of rain during the weekend.

NICK GRIMM: And what are the conditions that are perhaps peculiar to Mexico itself in terms of how vulnerable that area is to a wild storm like this?

ANTHONY CASWELL PEREZ: The main threat is just the strength of the storm. It's just, you know: nothing's been seen like this in recent history. So that's what has everyone worried: it's just the sheer strength.

There is definitely a preoccupation about the capacity of our nation, of the different dependencies involved and the different levels of government. Unfortunately, two years ago there was the impact of Hurricane Manuel. There was an important... what's the word... well, challenges to respond.

That being said, however, they definitely mobilised very quickly. They were very effective in assigning the roles. So I believe that the Mexican government is as ready as it can be.

Now, one of the big challenges here in Mexico, though, is the extreme inequality in the country. So populations that are closer to cities are probably going to have better access to shelters that could probably be able to not be damaged by the storm.

But the more rural populations, especially more isolated populations, might have a challenge in accessing shelter adequately or perhaps not believing the strength of the hurricane.

So that's going to be an issue that, at this moment, I see no (inaudible) going to look like on the one hand. And then on the other hand, ensuring that all the populations, especially the most marginalised, do have access to the shelters. And then afterwards, ensure that they do have access to whatever humanitarian support is required.

NICK GRIMM: Anthony Caswell Perez, thank you very much for speaking to us.

ANTHONY CASWELL PEREZ: No problem. Thank you.

NICK GRIMM: That was Save the Children's Anthony Caswell Perez, speaking to me from Mexico City.