Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

160mph Hurricane Dean Hits Mexico; on the Run: School Buses in Texas Move South out of Dean's Path Getting Away: Tourists Wait for Flights out of Cancun, While, below, Residents in Belize Prepare for Dean, Left

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

160mph Hurricane Dean Hits Mexico; on the Run: School Buses in Texas Move South out of Dean's Path Getting Away: Tourists Wait for Flights out of Cancun, While, below, Residents in Belize Prepare for Dean, Left

Article excerpt

Byline: ED HARRIS

MEXICO was today bearing the full force of Hurricane Dean, the tropicalstorm that has already devastated parts of the Caribbean.

Thousands of British tourists fled the country's beaches as Dean strengthenedovernight to a "potentially catastrophic" category five storm, with winds of160mph.

Many Britons have left the Mexican resort of Cancun but reports estimated therecould be more than 5,000 still in the area.

The Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) said 3,000 British tourists had beenevacuated from Cancun before the storm reached the popular resort.

The hurricane finally hit the Mexican coast at 8.30am today at Tulum, south ofCancun.

US National Hurricane Centre said hurricane-force winds were hitting theYucutan Peninsula.

Mexico's state oil company, Petroleos de Mexico, said it was evacuating all14,000-plus offshore workers in the southern Gulf of Mexico, which includes thegiant Cantarell oil field.

Dozens of historically significant Mayan sites were also emptied, and any metalsigns or objects that could go airborne in hurricane-force winds were removed.

Robbie Black, of Llanelli, told the BBC he and his family were among 300passengers stranded after their flight to Cardiff out of Cancun on Wednesdaywas cancelled.

"It is very scary because none of us from the UK have any experience ofhurricanes, least of all a category five," he said.

"Everybody is casting their minds back to the pictures they have of thedevastation of Katrina in New Orleans." Hurricane Dean appears to be bearingdown on the Yucatan's most vulnerable populationthe Mayan peoplemany of whom have seen little of the riches from oil or tourism, and still livein traditional wooden slat huts in small settlements all over the low-lyingarea.

Yesterday, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands were spared the full force of thetempest as it passed to the south of the islands.

Reports suggest that at least eight people have died so far as the hurricanecontinues to make its way across the Caribbean. It missed Grand Cayman by 102miles to the south.

Andy Cooper, director general at the FTO, was optimistic that holidaymakerswould escape the worst excesses of the hurricane. …

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