Mexico has evacuated all of its 14,000 oil workers from its southern Gulf as the country’s Yucatan Peninsula braces itself to take a direct hit from Hurricane Dean. Meteorologists say the storm has picked up speed at sea and strengthened into a Category 5 storm – the biggest type possible. More than 70,000 tourists have fled Cancun and the nearby area in recent days. But the holiday resort is expected to be spared the full impact of the storm.
Hurricane Dean is more likely to make landfall in a marshy zone further south near the border with Belize. The storm has already killed at least 11 people on its path through the Caribbean – growing stronger after it brushed Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. But its impact there was still dramatic, uprooting trees and destroying homes. Jamaica’s government has declared a month long state of emergency.
With wind speeds of up to 256 kph now forecast and a storm surge five-and-a-half metres above normal tide levels, Mexico is expecting far worse.