SAN ANTONIO -- Hurricane Gilbert dwindled to a tropical depression Saturday in the mountains of northern Mexico after sweeping 11 people to their deaths in floodwaters in Monterrey, Mexico, and spinning off a swarm of tornadoes in central Texas.
The still dangerous storm -- which has claimed at least 136 victims in its week-long rampage across the Caribbean and Mexico -- carried torrential rain and severe squalls that extended 300 miles northward into Texas.
In Mexico, the confirmed death toll from the hurricane climbed to 39 Saturday, including 26 people killed in the storm's initial assault Wednesday on the Yucatan Peninsula.
But the Mexican Red Cross estimated that at least 50 people had perished in floodwaters in northeastern Mexico alone.
About 150 to 200 people were missing from four buses overturned by floodwaters that surged over the banks of the Santa Caterina River in Monterrey, capital of the northeastern state of Nuevo Leon, police and Red Cross officials said.
Police said rescue workers recovered the bodies of 11 people, at least five of them officers who were trying to rescue passengers from the buses. Red Cross spokesman Eugenio Guerra said many of the missing were believed to have been swept to their deaths.
Officials reported at least two others dead and four missing in northeastern Mexico Saturday.
Jorge Trevino, governor of the state of Nuevo Leon, said the floods left 12,000 people homeless in its capital of Monterrey, an industrial city of 4 million located 425 miles north of Mexico City.
'The river has swept away cars as well as the buses,' said Francisco Cobos, a reporter for El Diario de Monterrey. 'They found three cars, two of them empty swept into the river. They managed to locate a driver of one of the cars but not the others.
'The bridges are closed, people are in the streets, and the rain is not very very strong anymore, but the people are very nervous. For 21 years, they haven't seen rain like this.'
In Austin, Texas, state disaster officials reported at least 33 tornadoes spawned by the remnants of Gilbert in a 23-county area, in addition to 26 twisters Friday. More tornadoes and funnel clouds were expected throughout the night.
At least one person was killed and 11 others injured in Texas tornadoes spawned by Gilbert -- two near McKinney north of Dallas, six in the San Antonio area and three in the Rio Grande Valley on Friday.
Three twisters struck south of San Antonio, killing a woman in her demolished trailer house, injuring five people, damaging three hangers and 10 warehouses at Kelly Air Force Base and tearing up a hospital complex and a trailer park.
The medical complex on the city's northwest side -- Medical Center Hospital, the Audie Murphy Veterans Administration Hospital and University of Texas Health Science Center -- was raked by another twister that blasted out windows, destroyed cars and disabled a cooling system that forced administrators to try to find alternate housing for some patients.
San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros declared the city a local disaster area Saturday afternoon to enable the city to use Air Force planes to obtain replacement parts for the damaged hospital cooling tower.
At the VA hospital, the tornado shattered 64 windows, forcing staff members to scurry to get patients into dry roms, said hospital spokeswoman Barbara Watkins.
'It seemed to beat up the front of our building a little bit and damaged or destroyed all 25 of our government vehicles,' said Karen Wetzel, a hospital spokeswoman.
In McKinney, a Saturday afternoon twister flattened a lumber yard, injuring two people, and destroyed several unoccupied model homes at a nearby subdivision.
In the West Texas town of Del Rio, City Manager Jeff Pomeraz said several homes were leveled and 20 homes were damaged by one in a series of tornadoes and funnel clouds that swept through Val Verde County throughout the day.
Gilbert even caught up Saturday with coastal residents who fled inland to escape its fury. Linda Newburn left Corpus Christi to stay with a niece in San Antonio, only to have tornado blow the roof from the San Antonio apartment complex where she was staying Saturday.
'I left Corpus Christi three days ago to escape the hurricane, and now I get stuck in a tornado,' she said. 'The noise was deafening, so loud you couldn't even hear yourself think.'
A 3-year-old boy from Rockport on the middle Texas coast drowned Thursday when he fell off his parents' shrimp boat that had been moved to an inland waterway to ride out the storm. His body was found early Friday.
Police said that a 41-year-old man died Friday at a San Antonio hospital of head injuries suffered when a telephone pole snapped, apparently because of high winds, and fell into his house.
Gilbert struck the western Gulf of Mexico Friday afternoon near the Mexican fishing village of La Pesca, 120 miles south of the Texas border. It caused widespread damage on both sides of the border, but no immediate deaths and only a few injuries in small tornadoes Friday that inundated Texas' Rio Grande Valley on the border with Mexico.
It plunged inland and at 5 a.m. CDT Saturday was downgraded to a tropical storm and at 11 a.m. CDT became a tropical depression, with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph and higher winds in squalls. Continued weakening was expected as the storm approaches the central Mexican mountains.
The National Hurricane Center issued its last position advisory on Gilbert at 11 a.m. CDT, saying it was near latitude 25.5 north, longitude 101.0 west, or about 220 miles west-southwest of Brownsville, Texas, and 45 miles southwest of Monterrey, Mexico, moving west northwest at 12 mph. At 2 p.m. CDT, the center of the depression was about 230 miles west-southwest of Brownsville, the NWS said.
The Hurricane Center, which earlier had predicted the storm would turn northwest and dump 20-inch rains on south and central Texas, Saturday revised the forecast and said Gilbert would dump most of its rain over extreme south central and southwest Texas.
'It's just going to break up over the mountains of Mexico,' said Max Mayfield, a hurricane forecaster. 'It's so far inland, the problem is not with the winds, it's with the rain and tornadoes.'
A wall of high pressure across the central United States blocked the expected path to the northwest, keeping the storm on the more westerly course into the Mexican mountains.
Gilbert was born Sept. 10 and churned west across the Caribbean as the most powerful Atlantic storm on record, killing some 120 people in the Caribbean and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Relief workers in the Caribbean were still finding bodies of more victims Saturday and assessing the billions of dollars worth of damage, particularly in Jamaica and on the Yucatan.
The death toll was at 36 in Jamaica, 29 in Haiti; 26 in the Yucatan, 13 in Honduras, nine in the Dominican Republic, five in Venezuela and two in Costa Rica.
U.S. travel agents and Mexican authorities say an estimated 10,000 U.S. tourists were stranded in the devastated Yucatan.
Bill Francisco, spokesman for the State Department in Washington, D.C., said both the Cancun and Cozumel airfields are now operational for daytime flights and department representatives will work with U.S. and Mexican airlines to lay on as many flights as possible to ferry tourists back to the United States.
Continental Airlines will make nine out of Cancun and two out of Cozumel Saturday, while Mexicana plans two flights from Cozumel and four from Cancun and American Airlines plans two from Cancun.
'Both Continental and American are bringing food and water in with their flights to take care of some passengers who will not be able to get out until Sunday or Monday,' Francisco said.
Gilbert crossed the Yucatan into the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday and was expected to veer northward and hit the Texas coast. An estimated 350,000 people evacuated inland along the Texas and Mexican coasts as residents boarded their homes and stored up supplies of food, water and batteries.
City and state disaster relief agencies Saturday said the damage was extensive but not severe in the Rio Grande Valley and that little damage occurred northward along the Texas coast.
Eduardo Campirano, city manager of South Padre Island on Texas' southeast-most barrier island, said Saturday gult waters apparently covered the island, but he said damage was minor. The posh resort-tourist island was totally evacuated in advance of the storm.
'It looks like we fared real well,' Campirano said. 'You can see where the water from the beach came over.'
'Nothing happened, period. Yahoo!' said islander Gib Little, who fled a day earlier before Gilbert whipped the narrow sand barrier with 82 mph winds.
The tornadoes that slashed through the San Antonio area Saturday morning caused extensive damage at Lackland Air Force Base, a hospital complex and a trailer park.
Emily Dickens, 59, was killed when a twister flipped her mobile home about 5:20 a.m. Six other mobile homes in the same park were demolished.
The same twister that lashed the medical complex in San Antonio also damaged an HEB supermarket about 2 miles away.
'About 7:30 this morning a tornado came right through our front doors, blew through the store and went out through the ceiling in produce, took part of our ceiling with it,' said manager Ann Cermin.