Tropical Storm Gamma devastates Cancún

Gamma hit Cancún at near-hurricane force on Saturday, stranding people at nearby islands

Tropical Storm Gamma devastates Cancún
Fishermen try to protect their boats from heavy rains due to the passage of Storm Gamma in Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo - Photo: Elizabeth Ruiz/AFP
English 04/10/2020 10:52 Newsroom & Agencies Mexico City AP Actualizada 10:55

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Tropical Storm Gamma hit the resort-dotted coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula at near-hurricane force on Saturday, flooding streets, knocking down vulnerable buildings, and stranding people trying to return from outlying islands.

The storm came ashore near Tulum with maximum sustained winds of nearly 110 kph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

By night, winds had dipped to 95 kph, and it was centered about 135 kilometers north-northwest of Tulum, moving to the northwest at 11 kph.

Forecasters said the biggest threat to the area, which recently reopened to tourism after a pandemic shutdown, was likely the torrential rain and possible flooding, with as much as 250 to 375 mm over the northeastern part of the peninsula.

The state’s tourism department reported Friday on Twitter that more than 41,000 tourists were present in Quintana Roo, with hotels in Cancún and Cozumel already at more than 30% occupancy.

Social media accounts of Quintana Roo’s state government showed police removing people from vulnerable shacks and removing downed trees.

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Numerous local news media published images of a thatch-roof, open-sided seaside church, Maria Star of the Sea just north of Cancún, collapsed by the storm.

The storm forced the suspension of sea ferry services between Cancún and Playa del Carmen with the islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres.

The storm was projected to emerge from the northern edge of the Yucatán on Sunday and then curve toward the west-southwest into the lower Gulf of Mexico, flinging heavy rains across a large part of southern Mexico and Central America.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Marie began to weaken Saturday over the open Pacific.

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Marie was a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 215 kph on Friday evening, according to the Hurricane Center, but winds dipped to Category 3 status, 185 kph by Saturday evening.

It was centered about 1,900 kilometers west of the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula and was headed to the northwest at 13 kph.

Forecasters said it shouldn’t pose a threat to land.

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