Belize City: Hurricane Earl thundered towards the shores of Belize on Wednesday, dumping heavy rain on Honduras and prompting people to take cover on the Caribbean coastline as the large storm closed in.
The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Wednesday night that within hours Earl would hit Belize and that on Thursday it would travel over Mexico`s southern Yucatan peninsula or the north of Guatemala.
Earl was blowing maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour (121 km per hour), as it churned about 40 miles east of Belize City (64 km), the NHC said.
There were over 1,000 people in shelters in Belize City, Philip Willoughby, a city official in charge of emergency management, said by telephone on Wednesday evening. In Honduras, the government said close to 150 people were evacuated.
In the eastern part of the country, 88 shipwrecked fishermen were rescued in La Mosquitia, while two are still missing, Luis Florentino, deputy chief of emergency agency COPECO, said by telephone.
In its last update on Wednesday, however, the NHC said the Honduran government had eliminated warnings for the coast and the Bay Islands.
In Mexico, national oil company Pemex tweeted that it was monitoring the hurricane but it had not evacuated oil platforms.
Quintana Roo`s tourism minister Raul Andrade Angulo said that the 410,000 travelers currently visiting the state would be safe because the region has 788 hurricane shelters for more than 280,000 people, including 55 shelters for tourists.
Red flags were put up on beaches in Cancun to keep tourists away from the sea.
Earl, the fifth named storm of the 2016 season, is expected to bring 8 to 12 inches of rain in parts of Belize, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico`s Yucatan peninsula through Thursday night, the Miami-based NHC said in a statement.
"Isolated maximum amounts of 18 inches are possible in Mexico and Belize," the NHC added.