Hurricane Wilma tears into Mexican resorts
Updated: 2005-10-22 08:55
Hurricane Wilma tore into Mexico's resort-studded Mayan Riviera on Friday
with torrential rains and shrieking winds, filling the streets with water,
shattered glass and debris as thousands of stranded tourists hunkered down in
hotel ballrooms and emergency shelters.
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Wilma officially
made landfall about 3:30 p.m. (4:30 p.m. EDT), with the center of the storm's
eye hitting the island of Cozumel, a popular cruise-ship stop.
The fearsome Category 4 storm, which killed 13 people in Haiti and Jamaica,
was expected to pummel the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula for two days, sparking
fears of catastrophic damage. It is forecast to sideswipe Cuba before bearing
down on Florida on Monday.
"Tin roofing is flying through the air
everywhere. Palm trees are falling down. Signs are in the air and cables are
snapping," Julio Torres told The Associated Press by telephone from the Red
Cross office in Cozumel.
A man tries to save some of his belongings as
flood waters begin to rise at a low income neighborhood during the passing
of Hurricane Wilma in Playa del Carmen, Mexico on Friday Oct. 21,
"Not even emergency vehicles have been able to go out on the streets, because
the winds are too strong."
The wind bent palm trees and the surf washed away tiki huts on hotel beaches.
Power was cut early Friday to most parts of Cancun — a standard safety
Shop windows were shattered, cars were crushed under fallen trees and pay
phones jutted from waist-deep floodwaters in the famed hotel zone.
Officials evacuated loaded more than 1,000 people into buses and vans after a
downtown cultural center being used as a temporary shelter suddenly became
uninhabitable, Cancun Red Cross director Ricardo Portugal said without