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Mexico bracing for Category 5 hurricane; Dean thrashes Jamaica
Published in Saudi Press Agency on 20 - 08 - 2007

After pounding Jamaica, Hurricane Dean, the
first big Atlantic storm of the season, was rolling toward Mexico's
Yucatan peninsula on Monday, where it could reach Category 5 later in
the day, according to DPA.
At least eight people have died since Dean - called a "giant
wrecking ball" by one forecaster - began dropping heavy rains
Saturday on Haiti and the Dominican Republic and moved across the
Lesser Antilles, Santa Lucia, Martinique and Dominica.
In Cancun and on the Maya Riviera on Mexico's Caribbean coast,
tourists and local residents were being evacuated by plane or bus in
accord with Mexico's storm procedures.
Mexico's federal government has declared a state of emergency for
106 municipalities of the Yucatan, including the famed tourist
resorts of Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum y Cozumel. The Mayan
ruins are directly in the path of the storm.
"We learned the lesson from Wilma," said Cancun's Mayor Francisco
Alor, referring to the 2005 storm that was the most intense hurricane
ever recorded in the Atlantic basin. Sixty-three people died in the
storm that targeted the Yucatan and Florida.
The Category 4 storm was blowing at 240 kilometres an hour on
Monday, and was expected to pick up force as it crossed the warm Gulf
of Mexico waters. Category 5 - the highest level on the hurricane
severity scale - begins at 249 kilometres an hour wind speeds.
"Dean could become a Category 5 hurricane later today," the
National Hurricane Centre said in its 1500 GMT update.
Its broad target stretches north from Honduras and Belize to the
US Gulf coast, where Texas Governor Rick Perry has deployed state
military units, "vehicles and aviation assets," he said.
"We have 3,000 busses ready to evacuate those who can't get out on
their own," Perry said in broadcast remarks.
In hard-hit Jamaica, a curfew was in force to prevent looting, and
electricity and transport were at a standstill.
By late Sunday, the Jamaican capital Kingston flooded.
"Our concern is for the poor people here in houses with tin roofs
or walls," Holly Inurreta of Catholic Relief Services told the
Bloomberg news agency by telephone from Kingston. "Many people didn't
want to go to shelters for fear of looting after the storm."
Just last week, tropical storm Erin swept across Texas claiming
seven lives. Its tail whipped across the US Mid-west Sunday, killing
another 12 people in flooding.


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