Hurricane Emily Bears Down On Mexico - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/17/05-Yucatan, Mexico

Hurricane Emily Bears Down On Mexico

Mexico delivered tens of thousands of jittery tourists to shelters in gymnasiums and hotel ballrooms, evacuating its Caribbean resorts and offshore oil platforms as Hurricane Emily sped toward the Yucatan Peninsula.

Packing 135 mile per hour winds, Emily was expected to land near Cancun on Sunday night or early on Monday. A fleet of buses moved about 30,000 tourists in the resort to temporary shelters, while 70,000 to 80,000 more were being evacuated state-wide.

Hundreds of tourists clutching pillows waded out of hotels on Sunday, waiting in a light drizzle to be loaded onto buses bound for safer ground. Hundreds of mostly foreign tourists lay shoulder-to-shoulder on thin foam pads in a sweltering gymnasium near the centre of Cancun. They were given free bottled water and sandwiches, but many gasped when a hard rain rattled the metal roof of the building. Some asked how long they would have to stay.

Along the narrow spit of land that holds most of Cancun's palatial hotels, workers scrambled to board up businesses and remove traffic lights. Cancun's mayor, Francisco Alor, said the city was preparing for a near-direct hit from Emily. He compared Emily to a notorious 1988 hurricane that killed 300 people in Mexico and the Caribbean. On Sunday afternoon, Emily was about 195 miles east-southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, approaching the Yucatan Peninsula at about 20 mph. Hurricane-force winds extended up to 60 miles and tropical storm force winds another 150 miles. The last time Cancun faced a mass evacuation was 1988, when the city and surrounding resort areas had only about 8,000 hotel rooms.  That number has since grown to over 50,000. Emily is expected to cross over the Yucatan Peninsula before passing over the Gulf and striking again near the US-Mexico border later in the week.

Oralia Ortega, reporting.


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