World Bulletin / News Desk
Hurricane Ernesto slowed slightly as it crashed into Mexico's Yucatan peninsula on Tuesday, flooding streets in the port city of Chetumal and sending thousands of residents and tourists into shelters.
Ernesto had top sustained winds of 80 miles per hour (140 km per hour) as it landed on the Mexican coast near the town of Mahahual, about 20 miles (65 km) north of Chetumal, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said in its 2:00 a.m. EDT (0600 GMT) advisory.
Civil Protection officials in the state of Quintana Roo said about 2,300 people were evacuated from Chetumal up the coast to Tulum.
This southern part of the state is known for its scuba diving and eco-tourism attractions.
Rain was also pouring down further north on the resort of Cancun, although people stayed in their homes and hotels there.
Ernesto is a Category 1 hurricane, the lowest on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale.
In Chetumal, the state capital of Quintana Roo, authorities set up 35 shelters, which were filled with a mix of tourists and residents.
Patricia Footit, a Canadian tourist who was evacuated from her Mahaual beach-front hotel Tuesday afternoon, said she was enjoying the experience.
"I'm absolutely fine. This is an adventure," said Footit, sitting on a mat on the floor reading a book to pass the time.
"I was just on the beach chilling out when the loudspeaker said we had to evacuate."
Chetumal's working class neighborhood of Lazaro Cardenas was flooded with water, but many residents said they preferred to stay in their cinder block and wood homes.
"This is normal. It is not the first time that a hurricane has come through here," said Carmen Salis, 19, standing outside her house.
Ernesto is forecast to push across Yucatan and reemerge Wednesday in the southern Gulf of Mexico, where state oil company Pemex has port facilities and offshore platforms.
Pemex said in a news release that it was canceling some training exercises at oil rigs, but all installations were functioning normally.
Carlos Morales, director of Pemex Production and Exploration, told Reuters that oil production has not been affected at all by the hurricane.
Residents, shop keepers and government workers boarded up houses and businesses along the coast.
"These are just precautionary measures," said worker Francisco Velazquez, who led a group of five men wearing raincoats and wielding hammers and nails as they boarded windows at a government office in Chetumal.
CANCUN NOT HIT
While the eye of Ernesto did not hit the region's major resort of Cancun, some rain fell in the area, which is packed with local and international visitors this time of the year.
Tourism officials said they were not evacuating any of Cancun's tourist area, but hotel staff advised guests to stay in their rooms in the evening.
Hotel staff had also removed deck chairs, tables and other potential projectiles from the beaches.
Authorities also declared alcohol bans in the towns of Tulum and Felipe Carrillo Puerto and Chetumal airport was closed to all flights from mid-afternoon.
Cancun, some 230 miles (380 km) to the north of the storm's forecast path, was devastated in 2005 by Hurricane Wilma, the most intense storm ever recorded in the Atlantic.
Hurricane warnings were extended northwards to the resort island of Cozumel from Chetumal and include the entire coast of low-lying Belize. A tropical storm warning remained in effect for the Atlantic coasts of Honduras and Nicaragua.
One cruise ship that was due to dock at Cozumel on Wednesday canceled its visit and another was diverted to Veracruz, in the Gulf of Mexico.
Heavy rain hit northern Honduras early Tuesday but there were no reports of damage.
Rainfall of 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 cm), and possibly 12 inches (30 cm) in some areas, was expected over Belize and the southern portions of the Yucatan peninsula.
Belize's government said 175 residents of outlying islands had voluntarily moved to safer ground, and 21 emergency shelters had opened to house evacuees.
August and September are usually the most active months of the Atlantic-Caribbean hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.
A senior official has said that Burkina Faso will hold their own independent inquiry into the the abuse of children by French soldiers.
Bookseller Sam Mansour has been stripped of his Danish citizenship allegedly inciting terrorism through Facebook posts
President Joseph Kabila has said that he will not stand for a third term when it ends in 2016. The ambassador to the UK has said his compliance will mean that the UK will finance the election.
Ukraine's state-run gas company Naftogaz has announced the suspension of gas purchases from Russia from July 1
A court in Germany has ruled that Youtube must use a digitial fingerprint to prevent users uploading copyright material
Tensions over NATO and the Ukraine conflict have paved the way for the Bulgarian military to revamp its fleet.
Two French Uber executives will face trial over deceitful commercial practices and being complicit in illegal operation of a taxi service
Baltic states criticize Russian authorities for 'absurd' intention to review legality of their independence
European Union will provide Hungary with financial aid to take care of illegal migrant flows
The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has spoken at an official Ramadan iftar saying that Islam will always remain in Germany
In a letter, Greek prime minister offers to accept most of terms in creditor's Saturday offer with some minor conditions
U.S. President Barack Obama signed a legislation aimed on discouraging boycotts against Israel
An online crowdfunding campaign started by a London shoe shop worker is aiming to create a Greek bailout fund of his own.
Sheihk Kirya has become the 12th Muslim cleric to be slain in a period of 2 years.
Ten people suspected of joining ISIL have been arrested in a police operation on the Italian-Albanian border
Italian finance minister says euro zone ministers still open to any Greek agreement