Mexico issues red alert as Hurricane Beryl hurtles toward coast


Mexico's top tourist destinations were on red alert as Hurricane Beryl churned toward the coast on after leaving behind a deadly trail of destruction across several Caribbean islands.

Hurricane Beryl turned into a Category 2storm, the Mexico National Weather Service said, and was packing winds up to 110 mph (175 kph) as it neared the Yucatan peninsula's eastern coast early Friday, according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC), which warned of a dangerous storm surge and damaging waves.

The unusually fierce, early season hurricane was close to landfall about 40 miles (65 km) east of the Mexican beach resort of Tulum, with hurricane conditions starting to occur in the Yucatan Peninsula, the NHC said.

With a hurricane warning declared along the Yucatan coast from Puerto Costa Maya to the country's top tourist destination Cancun, including Cozumel.

The "red alert" called by Mexico's civil protection agency signifies a threat of maximum hazard from Beryl. It told people to stay in their homes or at storm shelters.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador urged people in the storm's path to take shelter after the meteorological service forecast heavy to torrential rains that could trigger landslides and flooding.

"No hesitating. Material things can be recovered. The most important thing is life," the president wrote on social media.

The storm churned past the Cayman Islands earlier on Thursday after belting Jamaica with winds that tore apart buildings and uprooted trees.

Authorities say at least 11 people have so far died from the storm across Jamaica, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and in northern Venezuela.

The toll could rise as communications are restored and more reports come in from islands devastated by flooding and powerful winds.

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