August 8, 2012 - 11:35 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Hurricane Ernesto came ashore on Mexico's Caribbean coast near the border with Belize late Tuesday, after hundreds of tourists left beach resorts and fishermen abandoned low-lying villages to avoid the threat of damaging rain and wind, AP said.
Ernesto, which started the day as a tropical storm, had sustained winds of 85 mph (140 kph) as its center moved over the shore town of Mahahual around 10 p.m. local time, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. It said the storm was moving west at 15 mph (24 kph) and was expected to weaken as it moved across the Yucatan Peninsula.
The only major city in the area, Chetumal, capital of Quintana Roo state, is about 40 miles (65 kilometers) from Mahuahal. Authorities earlier moved more than 1,300 tourists from resorts in Mahuahal, Balacar and other spots to Chetumal because the bayside city that was expected to see less rain and wind than the coast.
In the city of Tulum to the north, some 6,000 tourists were sheltering in hotels away from the beach and authorities said the structures were strong enough to qualify as storm shelters. On its way to Yucatan, the storm swirled over open sea parallel to Honduras' northern coast, but officials there said the storm hadn't caused damage or injuries.
Mexican authorities warned of possible flooding in some of the region threatened by Ernesto, where swollen rivers in the past have swept away houses, livestock and people and collapsed mountainsides.
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Gilma formed in the Pacific Ocean about 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) west of Manzanillo, Mexico, with winds of 40 mph (64 kph). The storm was not expected to threaten land.