Tropical Storm Ingrid strengthened Saturday to become a Category 1 hurricane, the Mexican National Meteorological Service, or SMN, told Efe.

"There are going to be heavy rains, from 250 to 500 liters per square meter (5 to 10 gallons per square foot) in 72 hours," said meteorologist Alberto Hernandez Unzon about the storm's approach across the Gulf of Mexico.

The hurricane's center is located at 275 kilometers (170 miles) from the town of Barra de Nautla, and is expected to make landfall on the Mexican coast at the state of Tamaulipas, the same source said.

At least 4,700 inhabitants of different municipalities in the Mexican Gulf coast state of Veracruz were evacuated to temporary shelters as Ingrid was moving toward the Mexican coast.

Civil Protection officials told Efe that there is a "maximum alert" in the state due to the possibility that several rivers could overflow, especially the Panuco in the northern part of the state.

Another critical area is the basin of the Rio Tecolutla, Civil Protection officials in the state told Efe.

Evacuations have been carried out in the municipalities of Coahuitlan, Coxquihui, Coyutla, Chumatlan, Espinal, Gutierrez Zamora, Papantla and Tecolutla.

Army and navy personnel have launched operations in Veracruz state to prevent wreckage and help inhabitants who suffer damages from the storm.

State-owned electric company CFE has mobilized 472 workers, 146 vehicles including five SUVs, 95 cranes and two helicopters to deal with the effects of Hurricane Ingrid.

There are also 29 emergency electricity generators ready to supply priority areas like clinics, hospitals and systems for pumping drinking water.

Up to now, 43 of the 212 municipalities in this state have suffered damages, chiefly to infrastructure like bridges and highways. EFE