Hurricane Emily Hits Mexico Resorts; Death Toll Mounts
Hurricane Emily lashed beach resorts on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula on Monday, where thousands of tourists were evacuated or took refuge in shelters while the storm toll across the Caribbean rose to 10 dead.
The 215 kilometer (135 mile) an hour winds tore down trees and power lines but officials said the coastal resorts around Cancun, renowned for its palm trees and beaches, escaped relatively lightly.
Tens of thousands of tourists were evacuated from the path of Emily, which headed into the Gulf of Mexico. Emily was expected to make landfall again near Mexico's border with the US state of Texas.
The hurricane killed five people in Jamaica at the weekend. A 23-year-old woman and her two children were swept away by flood waters, along with two men who tried to rescue them, police said.
The woman's car was stranded at St. Elizabeth on the southern coast of the Caribbean island. The men were trying to help her when all were swept over a 70-foot cliff.
High winds caused the crash of a helicopter used to evacuate workers on Gulf of Mexico oil platforms in Emily's path, killing the pilot and co-pilot, Mexico's state oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos said.
The company said it had evacuated 15,530 workers from oil platforms in the Gulf. It also announced the temporary suspension of three-quarters of its daily oil production, or 2.9 million barrels per day, which is expected to completely resume by Friday.
The storm killed one man in a mudslide in Grenada last week. A German man, Ralph Hennebohle, was electrocuted to death Sunday in the Mexican resort of Playa del Carmen as he prepared his house for the looming hurricane, police said.
In the Honduras capital, Tegucigalpa, an 18-year-old man drowned Sunday night after being swept into a river swollen by the storm.
Playa del Carmen, the island of Cozumel and the resort of Tulum were among resorts in the zone south of Cancun that suffered most from Emily as it crossed the Yucatan peninsula in southeastern Mexico, said Jose Reivosa, an official with the Cancun tourist office.
But Felix Gonzalez, governor of Quintana Roo province, which includes Cancun, told Mexican media later that "the worst had passed" without any reports of serious damage and no immediate loss of life in the storm.
"The important thing is that there are no casualties among the 50,000 tourists," he said.
Authorities said the main damage was fallen trees and power lines.
Thousands of tourists and residents sheltered in barricaded homes and hotels along the so-called Mayan Riviera. Tens of thousands were moved to emergency shelters or out of the area ahead of the storm, officials said.
Cancun's international airport was closed Sunday after more than 8,000 tourists flew home, while thousands of other visitors were taken to shelters.
About 30,000 of the 80,000 tourists in the area cut short their vacations, officials said.
President Vicente Fox deployed truckloads of emergency supplies to threatened areas.
In a public advisory at 2100 GMT, the US National Hurricane Center said Emily had lost its "punch" as winds had eased to about 120 km (75 miles) per hour.
But the center warned that Emily was expected to regain strength before making landfall and said preparations to protect lives and property should be "rushed to completion."
Emily was expected to near the coast of northeast Mexico late Tuesday as southern Texas and Mexico braced for the hurricane to hit the border region.
Emily is the second major storm to hit the region in two weeks following Hurricane Dennis, which left at least 62 dead, mostly in Haiti.
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Hurricane Emily Barrels Toward Mexico Resorts
Cancun, Mexico (AFP) Jul 17, 2005
Tens of thousands of residents and tourists fled Mexico's Caribbean coast Sunday, as Hurricane Emily barreled toward Mexico's Yucatan peninsula.