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Alex downgraded to a tropical storm

Hurricane Alex was downgraded to a tropical storm after it came ashore over northeastern Mexico.

The storm shut down about a quarter of oil production in the Gulf of Mexico.

Alex was packing maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour about 55 miles west of Ciudad Victoria, Mexico, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in an advisory posted on its website early this morning. The storm, earlier a Category 2 hurricane blowing at 100 mph, was heading west at 12 mph and will continue to move inland today.

Eight rigs and 74 production platforms had been evacuated because of Alex, Bloomberg reported. About 930 workers were removed from offshore Gulf platforms yesterday.

About 421,000 barrels a day of oil output were halted, which is 26 percent of Gulf production, along with 919 million cubic feet of natural-gas output, or 14 percent.

BP said Wednesday that the biggest seas associated with the hurricane had passed its leaking oil well in the Gulf as the storm headed toward Mexico.

Efforts to skim crude from the surface or contain it in floating barriers remain suspended because of the weather, according to the report.

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