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Urgent Alert: Hurricane Beryl Targets Tulum and Cancun with Devastating Force - Safety Measures in Full Swing

Tulum/Cancun, Mexico — Hurricane Beryl's Wrath

Mexico's premier tourist destinations are on high alert as Hurricane Beryl intensified into a Category 3 storm on Thursday evening. This came after it wreaked havoc across several Caribbean islands, leaving a deadly trail in its wake.

With winds reaching up to 185 kph, Beryl was rapidly approaching the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula early Friday, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC). The NHC warned of a dangerous storm surge and destructive waves.

In response, Mexico's civil protection agency issued a "red alert," advising residents and tourists in popular coastal areas like Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, Tulum, and Puerto Morelos to stay indoors or seek refuge in storm shelters.

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President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador urged those in the storm's path to prioritize safety. "No hesitating. Material things can be recovered. The most important thing is life," he emphasized on social media.

Earlier on Thursday, Beryl had already caused significant destruction, passing the Cayman Islands after lashing Jamaica with powerful winds that tore buildings apart and uprooted trees. Authorities reported at least 11 fatalities across Jamaica, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and northern Venezuela. The death toll may rise as communications are restored and more information emerges from the affected islands.

The state of Quintana Roo, home to Mexico's top tourist destination Cancun, was bracing for Beryl's impact. Governor Mara Lezama stressed the importance of taking preventive measures in a video posted on social media. "Let's take all measures of prevention and care because the winds and rains will be felt throughout the state. At this time no one should be away from home," she said.

At Cancun International Airport, over 100 flights were canceled on Thursday as tourists scrambled to leave before the storm hit. Meanwhile, in Cancun and Playa del Carmen, authorities began closing off beach entrances and preparing for the storm's arrival.

As of Thursday evening, the hurricane was approximately 145 kilometers east-southeast of Tulum, according to the NHC. The storm had weakened slightly after skirting Jamaica's southern coast late Wednesday, having been a Category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale.

In Tulum, residents and tourists alike were seen preparing for the storm. People were filling up their gas tanks and securing their properties, while hotels and resorts removed loose furniture and equipment to minimize damage.

The Cayman Islands had issued an all-clear earlier on Thursday after Beryl passed, sparing them the worst of its fury. However, Jamaica experienced substantial damage, with felled power lines, blocked roads, and significant destruction to farms reported in areas like the southwestern town of Bogue. Prime Minister Andrew Holness confirmed two storm-related deaths in Jamaica and noted that about 70% of the National Water Commission's 400,000 customers were without water.

Despite the devastation, Holness expressed gratitude that the island had "escaped the worst." Beryl was expected to bring 10-15 centimeters of rain to Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula through Friday, with some areas receiving up to 25 centimeters, according to the NHC. The storm is forecasted to weaken as it crosses the peninsula but may regain strength once it moves over the Gulf of Mexico, potentially threatening northeastern Mexico and southern Texas later in the weekend.

On Thursday, approximately 3,000 tourists were evacuated from Isla Mujeres to the mainland near Cancun, according to the island's tourism director, Jose Magana. Local fisherman Jose Martin was among those taking precautions, docking his boat in Cancun ahead of the storm. "It affects us a good deal because, first, we can't work, and second, we need to find shelter, so it's not good," Martin said.

Schools in Quintana Roo were closed on Thursday and Friday, and Mexico's defense ministry opened around 120 storm shelters in the region. Residents in Tulum were seen lining up at gas stations and preparing for the storm's arrival.

Beryl, the first hurricane of the 2024 Atlantic season, made history as the earliest Category 5 storm on record at its peak. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted an "extraordinary" storm season this year, attributing the extreme weather to human-caused climate change.

While Mexico's major oil platforms in the southern Gulf of Mexico are not expected to be affected, offshore oil projects in U.S. territorial waters could be impacted by Beryl's trajectory.

As Hurricane Beryl bears down on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, the nation braces for impact, prioritizing safety and preparedness. The devastating storm has already left a significant mark on the Caribbean, with lives lost and extensive damage reported. Mexico's coastal communities, particularly popular tourist destinations, are under strict advisories and taking necessary precautions. The rapid response from local authorities and the national government underscores the severity of the situation and the importance of safeguarding lives. As Beryl continues its path, the focus remains on resilience and recovery, while acknowledging the broader implications of climate change on extreme weather patterns.

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