Hurricane Paula threatens Cancun holidays and holidays in western Cuba
The increasingly dangerous Paula hurricane is moving closer to the Yucatan area, and with its passing it could also affect Cuba's western area with strong winds, heavy rains and flood. For now it is expected to pass through Cancun and the city.
It looks like not only heading to holidays in Cancun have to closely follow the hurricane trail, as Cuba holidays could also be affected. Hurricane Paula headed for a near pass along the southern coast of Mexico's resort-dotted Yucatan Peninsula today, on Wednesday morning, and then is expected to move toward the western end of Cuba.
The Category 2 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph, was expected to swipe at the islands of Cozumel, Isla Mujeres and Holbox, authorities said.
Moving north at near 9 mph, Paula's centre was expected to pass just to the east of Cancun on Wednesday morning, and decrease in forward speed after as it turns to the northeast in the afternoon, the U.S. National Hurricane Centre in Miami said.
It said the hurricane could get close to western Cuba by Wednesday night or early Thursday.
Around 2,500 people were evacuated from the tiny island of Holbox, where tourists flock to catch sight of flamingos, wild birds and rare whale sharks. Authorities also ordered the evacuation 60 fishermen from Isla Contoy. The evacuees were taken to the town of Kantunilkin on the mainland.
There are currently around 30,000 tourists enjoying Cancun holidays in Quintana Roo, the state where Cancun is located, and over a dozen shelters have been set up to receive people fleeing the storm from around Cancun and Cozumel.
"Although it is forecast that Hurricane Paula ... will not directly impact anywhere on the Yucatan Peninsula, residents should exercise extreme caution," said Felipe Adrian Vazquez, general coordinator of Mexico's Weather Service.
More than 1,800 tourists remained on Cozumel after authorities suspended all sea transportation. City officials said three shelters were available on the island but that only a family of six had arrived at one of them late Tuesday.
Fifteen flights with passengers flying to Cancun holidays were canceled Tuesday and seven international flights for Wednesday will be cancelled, Cancun airport commander Jose Chavez said.
Dozens of boat owners in Cancun hauled yachts and other vessels to shore, while sea tour operators canceled reservations. At least one company, Transbordadores del Caribe, canceled ferry trips from Playa del Carmen to the resort island of Cozumel south of Cancun, though others were still operating while the weather remained mild.
Armando Galmiche closed down his water-skiing tour business in Cancun and canceled 15 reservations he had for Tuesday afternoon. "It's already low season for tourism and, with this hurricane, things are going to get worse," he said, lamenting the loss of revenue.
Along Cancun's popular strip of night clubs and discotheques, workers took down billboards and other large objects ahead of heavy winds.
'I'm not afraid' - Peter Bruin, a 25-year-old tourist from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, was taking a stroll along the city's hotel zone, unaware that a hurricane was heading to Cancun. "I hadn't heard anything but I'm not afraid," Bruin said. "It will be my first hurricane experience."
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