Ernesto reaches hurricane strength over Central America
Tropical Storm Ernesto has reached hurricane strength while passing northern Honduras, and is approaching Belize and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
The US National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said it is bringing heavy rains and winds of up to 130km/h (80mph).
It was 185 miles (298 km) east of Chetumal, Mexico, at about 18:00 GMT on Tuesday, and moving north-west.
A hurricane warning is in effect along parts of the eastern Yucatan peninsula and the entire coast of Belize.
Tropical storm warnings are also in effect for much of the Honduras coast and remaining sections of the Yucatan peninsula.
Officials in Nicaragua and Guatemala are also on alert.
“These rains are likely to cause dangerous flash floods and mudslides over higher terrain,” the Miami-based NHC said in its warning.
It forecast that the storm could still strengthen before hitting the coast of Yucatan and then moving across the peninsula overnight.
In Mexico, the authorities ordered the closure of the port of Chetumal port and evacuated a fishing village in the state of Quintana Roo, where the major city of Cancun is located, the AP news agency reports.
At least 1,500 people have been moved away from Nicaragua’s coastal areas and its border with Honduras.
Officials in Honduras said they were monitoring the situation and working on plans for evacuation and delivery of humanitarian aid.
The Belize government has issued weather alerts for its residents, the Reuters news agency reports, and in Guatemala, relief supplies and rescue equipment are being sent to the vulnerable areas.