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Hurricane Wilma tears into Mexican resorts
Updated: 2005-10-22 08:55

At the same time, Wilma's outer bands pounded western Cuba, where the government evacuated nearly 370,000 people. Forecasters said Wilma could bring more than 3 feet of rain to parts of Cuba.

Waves of up to 21 feet crashed on the extreme westernmost tip of Cuba and heavy rains cut off several small communities. About 7,000 residents were evacuated from the coastal fishing village of La Coloma in Cuba's southern Pinar del Rio province.

"We thought we'd be spending a lot less time here," Maria Elena Torre said at a shelter set up inside a boarding school. "Now we have no idea how long we'll be here."

Civil defense official Adolfo Nilo Moreno said the 725 evacuees at the school were likely to remain in place until Tuesday or Wednesday.

Waves flood a house in the evacuated town of Boca de Galafre, in Pinar del Rio province, Cuba October 21, 2005.
Waves flood a house in the evacuated town of Boca de Galafre, in Pinar del Rio province, Cuba October 21, 2005.[Reuters]
"Luckily, we have enough food for four months," primarily rice, chicken, bread and milk, he said.

In Florida, emergency officials on Friday issued evacuation orders for the west coast town of Naples and a nearby island, which the storm was expected to reach Monday. Florida Keys residents also were asked to leave.

At 5 p.m. EDT, Wilma's winds were at 140 mph — down slightly from 145 mph a few hours earlier — as the storm made landfall on Cozumel, the hurricane center said. The hurricane was about 430 miles southwest of Key West, Fla., and was moving northwest at about 5 mph.

Wilma will likely linger over the Yucatan for a few days, which should weaken the hurricane's top sustained winds from 140 mph to Category 3 strength or lower.

"It's going to be a long couple of days here for the Yucatan Peninsula," hurricane center director Max Mayfield said.

No injuries were reported as the hurricane moved in. Portugal said the biggest problem so far had been "nervous crises," and 11 pregnant women were ferried to hospitals because of worries the storm had induced labor.

Mexican officials said about 20,000 tourists were at shelters and hotels on the mainland south of Cancun, and an estimated 10,000-12,000 were in Cancun itself. About 50 hotels there were evacuated.

Hotels being used as shelters pushed furniture up against windows that were not boarded up, and some people slept under plastic sheeting to protect them from dripping roofs.
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