Powerful hurricane nears Mexico’s Caribbean coast

An “extremely dangerous” hurricane bore down Tuesday on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, where the military was mobilized and tens of thousands of tourists were evacuated from hotels in top beach resorts.

Hurricane Delta rapidly intensified in the Caribbean to reach Category 4 status, the second-highest, and was on course to hit the Yucatan Peninsula by early Wednesday, US forecasters said.

Delta is expected to be an “extremely dangerous hurricane” when it makes landfall, bringing “life-threatening storm surge,” destructive waves, extreme winds and the risk of significant flash flooding, according to the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Mexico’s Riviera Maya coast is home to major tourist resort towns including Cancun, although the number of visitors has plummeted because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit Mexico hard.

Hotel guests in Cancun and other resort areas were being moved to emergency shelters, while residents were also being transferred to safe locations.

“Although we’ve been living in Cancun for five years, it’s our first hurricane, and the truth is that we’re very nervous,” said Ana Gabriela Gaeta.

By nightfall, Cancun’s streets were mostly empty, with shops closed and windows covered by wooden sheets or crossed with adhesive tape to try to prevent them from shattering, according to AFP reporters. (AFP | Yussel Gonzalez)