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    More than 30,000 tourists are evacuated and as Hurricane Delta roars towards Cancun

    More than 30,000 tourists are evacuated and supermarket shelves stripped bare as 120mph Hurricane Delta roared towards Cancun and could hit Louisiana later this week

    • Delta is due to make landfall in Cancun later this morning as a ‘strong, powerful’ Category 3 hurricane
    • Delta topped 145mph last night though weakened slightly before the hurricane closed in on Yucatan  
    • Despite the weakening, forecasters warned it was still extremely dangerous and could endanger life 
    • They said the storm could raise water levels nine to 13ft, along with large dangerous waves and flash flooding  

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    More than 30,000 tourists hunkered down in evacuation shelters this morning as they brace for 120mph Hurricane Delta, a slightly weakened but still dangerous Category 3 storm, to hit the Mexican tourist resort of Cancun.   

    Quintana Roo Gov. Carlos Joaquin said the state government had prepared, but warned residents and tourists that ‘it is a strong, powerful hurricane,’ though he considered it a good sign that Delta had weakened a bit late Tuesday. He said the area hadn’t seen a storm like it since Hurricane Wilma in 2005. 

    Forecasters warned it was still an extremely dangerous storm despite that weakening, saying it threatened to bring a life-threatening storm surge that could raise water levels nine to 13ft, along with large and dangerous waves and flash flooding inland. Delta was centered about 80 miles from Cozumel early Wednesday and moving west-northwest at 16mph.

    Thousands of Quintana Roo residents and tourists waited for the storm hunkered down in dozens of government shelters. Everyone was ordered off the streets by 7pm.

    Since Monday, local residents have formed long lines at supermarkets and construction stores to load up on food and supplies to protect their homes, television images showed 

    A man takes a video with his phone at a beach as Hurricane Delta approaches Cancun, Mexico yesterday

    Tourists play cards in a shelter prior to the arrival of the Hurricane Delta, at the Technological Institute of Cancun, Mexico last night

    Tourists play cards in a shelter prior to the arrival of the Hurricane Delta, at the Technological Institute of Cancun, Mexico last night 

    Tourists rest in a shelter prior to the arrival of Hurricane Delta, at the Technological Institute of Cancun, Mexico yesterday

    Tourists rest in a shelter prior to the arrival of Hurricane Delta, at the Technological Institute of Cancun, Mexico yesterday

    People queue to pay for goods at a supermarket, in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Delta, in Cancun, Mexico yesterday

    People queue to pay for goods at a supermarket, in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Delta, in Cancun, Mexico yesterday 

    Tourists arrive to depart from Cancun's international airport in Mexico's state of Quintana Roo, as Hurricane Delta approaches in Cancun, Mexico yesterday

    Tourists arrive to depart from Cancun’s international airport in Mexico’s state of Quintana Roo, as Hurricane Delta approaches in Cancun, Mexico yesterday

    Hotel employees carry a box with jugs of juice from a passenger bus at a school, which will be used as a temporary shelter for tourists, in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Delta, in Cancun, Mexico yesterday

    Hotel employees carry a box with jugs of juice from a passenger bus at a school, which will be used as a temporary shelter for tourists, in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Delta, in Cancun, Mexico yesterday

    Members of the Mexican Army prepare to move towards the municipalities of Valladolid and Tizimin, in Merida, Yucatan state, in preparation for the arrival of Hurrican Delta yesterday

    Members of the Mexican Army prepare to move towards the municipalities of Valladolid and Tizimin, in Merida, Yucatan state, in preparation for the arrival of Hurrican Delta yesterday

    This image obtained this morning from weather.com shows a strong Hurricane Delta set to hit Cancun before 6am

    This image obtained this morning from weather.com shows a strong Hurricane Delta set to hit Cancun before 6am

    Delta was forecast to spend several hours lashing the Yucatan Peninsula before moving into the Gulf of Mexico and re-strengthening before a strike on the U.S. Gulf coast later in the week

    Panic buying left some shelves empty of basic pantry goods, said Marian Castro, who lives in Cancun’s hotel zone and recalls the destruction wrought by Category 5 Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

    ‘I’m not scared, because after Hurricane Wilma … destroyed my house, this time we’re more prepared,’ she said, pointing out her anti-cyclone windows. 

    Throughout Tuesday the evacuations of low lying areas, islands and the coastline expanded as Delta exploded over warm Caribbean waters into a major hurricane. Much of Cancun’s hotel zone was cleared out as guests were bused to inland shelters. In Cancun alone, the government opened 160 shelters. 

    More than 40,000 tourists in Cancun and neighboring resorts were evacuated, the head of the area’s hotel association, Roberto Citron, told AFP. 

    Some 300 guests and nearly 200 staff from the Fiesta Americana Condesa hotel were taken to the Technological Institute of Cancun campus. 

    All wearing masks, they spread out on thin mattresses in a classroom building and tried to get comfortable as workers boarded the building’s windows in a light rain.

    Some played cards or watched videos on their phones, while others called relatives.

    ‘The hotel has done a good job of making sure that we were provided for and that we’re going to be safe here in this place, so we don’t have any concerns at all,’ said Shawn Sims, a tourist from Dallas sheltering with his wife, Rashonda Cooper, and their sons, 7-year-old Liam and 4-year-old Easton.

    ‘This is my first (hurricane) experience, but I see that these guys have a plan and they know what they’re doing,’ Sims said. 

    Clouds over an empty beach in Cancun are seen from the window of an airplane, as Hurricane Delta approaches in Cancun, Mexico yesterday

    Clouds over an empty beach in Cancun are seen from the window of an airplane, as Hurricane Delta approaches in Cancun, Mexico yesterday

    A hotel employee arranges bottled water at the entrance of a school, which will be used as a temporary shelter for tourists, in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Delta, in Cancun, Mexico yesterday

    A hotel employee arranges bottled water at the entrance of a school, which will be used as a temporary shelter for tourists, in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Delta, in Cancun, Mexico yesterday

    Boats sit closer to the shore after they were secured by fishermen preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Delta in Puerto Juarez, Cancun, Mexico yesterday

    Boats sit closer to the shore after they were secured by fishermen preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Delta in Puerto Juarez, Cancun, Mexico yesterday

    State tourism officials said more than 40,000 tourists were in Quintana Roo, a fraction of what would normally be there. Delta’s damage comes on top of months of pandemic-induced lockdown that has devastated the state’s tourism industry.

    At the Cancun Convention Center, 400 tourists from hotels and rental properties bunked for the night.

    ‘We hope that in this place we are surely much safer,’ Quintana Roo Tourism Secretary Marisol Vanegas said. ‘This is a structure that has withstood other hurricanes.’

    Delta increased in strength by 80 mph in just 24 hours, more than doubling from a 60 mph storm at 2 p.m. EDT Monday to 140 mph at 2 p.m. EDT Tuesday. Its top winds peaked at 145 mph (230 kph) before weakening slightly late Tuesday as it closed in on Yucatan.

    It was forecast to spend several hours lashing the Yucatan Peninsula before moving into the Gulf of Mexico and re-strengthening before a strike on the U.S. Gulf coast later in the week.

    Business and hotel employees work to protect their businesses before the arrival of the Hurricane Delta, in Cancun, in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico yesterday

    Business and hotel employees work to protect their businesses before the arrival of the Hurricane Delta, in Cancun, in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico yesterday 

    A hotel worker from the Fiesta Americana Condesa resort covers a window with plywood at a shelter set up at the Technological Institute of Cancun, as he prepares for the landfall of Hurricane Delta, in Cancun, Mexico yesterday

    A hotel worker from the Fiesta Americana Condesa resort covers a window with plywood at a shelter set up at the Technological Institute of Cancun, as he prepares for the landfall of Hurricane Delta, in Cancun, Mexico yesterday

    Tourists rests on the floor of the Cancun Convention Center, turned into an evacuation center, ahead of the arrival of Delta hurricane, in the touristic city of Cancun, Quintana Roo state, Mexico, late last night

    Tourists rests on the floor of the Cancun Convention Center, turned into an evacuation center, ahead of the arrival of Delta hurricane, in the touristic city of Cancun, Quintana Roo state, Mexico, late last night

    People line up to buy gas prior to the arrival of Hurricane Delta in Cancun, Mexico yesterday

    People line up to buy gas prior to the arrival of Hurricane Delta in Cancun, Mexico yesterday 

    People rest in a shelter prior to the arrival of Hurricane Delta in Cancun, Mexico yesterday

    People rest in a shelter prior to the arrival of Hurricane Delta in Cancun, Mexico yesterday 

    Locals buy boards to protect their homes in preparation for the arrival of Delta Huracan in Cancun, Quintana Roo state, Mexico yesterday

    Locals buy boards to protect their homes in preparation for the arrival of Delta Huracan in Cancun, Quintana Roo state, Mexico yesterday

    A general view shows an empty beach as Hurricane Delta approaches Cancun, Mexico yesterday

    A general view shows an empty beach as Hurricane Delta approaches Cancun, Mexico yesterday

    Clouds over part of Cancun are seen from the window of an airplane, as Hurricane Delta approaches in Cancun, Mexico yesterday

    Clouds over part of Cancun are seen from the window of an airplane, as Hurricane Delta approaches in Cancun, Mexico yesterday

    Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Delta was expected to make landfall there Friday night or Saturday morning and the entire state is in the storm’s possible path. State and local officials in coastal areas were shoring up levees, sandbagging and taking other protections measures, he said.

    Louisiana is still recovering from Hurricane Laura, which ravaged the southwestern region as it roared ashore as a Category 4 storm in August. More than 6,600 Laura evacuees remain in hotels around the state, mainly in New Orleans, because their homes are too heavily damaged to return.

    Mexico put the commander of its navy in charge of the federal response. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Tuesday that 5,000 federal troops and emergency personnel were being made available in Quintana Roo to aid in storm efforts.

    Tourists rest in a shelter prior to the arrival of Hurricane Delta, at the Technological Institute of Cancun, Mexico yesterday

    Tourists rest in a shelter prior to the arrival of Hurricane Delta, at the Technological Institute of Cancun, Mexico yesterday 

    People board up a restaurant in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Delta, in Cancun, Mexico yesterday

    People board up a restaurant in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Delta, in Cancun, Mexico yesterday 

    Local and state officials urged residents to move to shelters.

    Juan Carlos Avila arrived at the Technological Institute of Cancun shelter with his seven-months pregnant wife, Joselyn, and their 3-year-old-son, Alexander. He said the staff had made them comfortable and seemed well prepared.

    The family, which lives in Miami, had been in Cancun a week and already went through Tropical Storm Gamma, which soaked the area over the weekend.

    ‘We’ve practically lived in storms during our stay here in Cancun,’ Avila said.   

    The Yucatan peninsula was hit on the weekend by Hurricane Gamma, a smaller storm that nonetheless damaged property and forced restaurants and attractions to close, including the famed Chichen Itza pyramids.

    The region at the heart of Mexico’s tourist industry has suffered various setbacks in recent years, most recently from the coronavirus pandemic.

    Before that, the coast known as the Riviera Maya was affected by swaths of Sargasso seaweed on its pristine beaches.

    Cuba’s western province of Pinar del Rio and the Island of Youth also hunkered down ahead of tropical storm conditions, with schools closed and coastal areas evacuated.

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