MEXICO CITY, May 30 (Reuters) - Tropical storm Barbara weakened to a depression as it crossed southern Mexico early on Thursday headed toward the Gulf of Mexico, with warnings lifted as wind speeds dropped, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
Barbara reached hurricane strength on Wednesday, hitting the southern Pacific coast near Mexico's biggest oil refinery and flooding roads, toppling trees and killing three men. It then weakened to a tropical storm as it moved inland.
The Red Cross said the Salina Cruz refinery was operating normally. State oil monopoly Pemex said the same on Wednesday but was not immediately available for comment on Thursday.
The depression was around 40 miles (64 km) southeast of the port city of Coatzacoalcos in southern Mexico, with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph). It was moving north at 8 mph (13 kph).
"The center of Barbara is expected to emerge over the extreme southwestern Gulf of Mexico later today. Barbara is expected to weaken to a remnant low later today," the NHC said.
Fourteen fishermen disappeared in the state of Oaxaca during the storm, local media reported in Mexico. Local emergency services said they could not confirm that information.