Earl wreaks havoc in Belize, Guatemala and Mexico

Cayman’s premier sends message of support to Belize

Power lines brought down by Hurricane Earl hinder traffic on the road from Flores, in Peten, the northern Guatemalan border state with Belize on Thursday. - PHOTO: AP

Weather that led to the Cayman Islands being placed under tropical storm watch last week brought huge downpours, strong winds and damage across Belize, Guatemala and Mexico.

After passing south of Cayman Tuesday, Tropical Storm Earl had been upgraded to a Grade 1 hurricane by Thursday morning when it hit Belize, where 80 mph winds ripped off roofs and downed power lines.

By the time it moved over northwestern Guatemala and into Mexico, the hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm, as its winds dropped to 40 mph.

Damage in Belize

Much of Belize was without electricity Thursday morning as residents began assessing the damage. Around the capital, some roofs were torn off, power lines were down, trees were uprooted and there was localized flooding.

There was still some phone service, but television and radio stations were largely off the air on Thursday.

The country’s emergency management agency issued a statement declaring the “all clear” on the storm, but warned people near rivers to head to higher ground. It said all of the country’s dams were at flood stage.

The statement said there was major infrastructure damage in the offshore cayes, as well as in Belize City and Belmopan.

Premier’s message

In a statement released Friday, Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin said, “Our hearts and prayers go out to the people and Government of Belize as they face the road ahead to rebuild following the damage caused by Hurricane Earl on Thursday.

“We have many Caymanians who have roots in Belize. To them, we also offer our prayers and condolences. Belizeans, like Caymanians, know well the frustration of living through and surviving a major storm. I am confident that the Government and people of Belize will quickly recover from this storm as they have faced this situation many times in the past and have bounced back stronger than before.”

He urged individuals to reach out to anyone in the Cayman Islands community who has been affected by the storm, highlighting that many residents have connections with Belize.

“We should keep the people of Belize and indeed all of the countries impacted by Earl in our thoughts and prayers,” he said.

Storm hits Mexico

Six people died in landslides in the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz as what had been Tropical Storm Earl dumped heavy rains on the region, authorities said Saturday.

Veracruz Civil Protection Secretary Yolanda Gutierrez Carlin said the dead included a child, and officials in neighboring Puebla state warned that rivers in the mountainous area were in danger of flooding.

“The heavy rains caused two landslides leading to the deaths of six people in the townships of Coscomatepec and Tequila,” Gutierrez Carlin said.

In Coscomatepec, about 62 miles south of the Veracruz state capital, Xalapa, a married couple and their 1-year-old son were buried by the mudslide. Three others died in the other slide in Tequila, a town about 30 miles to the south.

Earl was downgraded to a tropical depression as it continued westward into the mountains of central Mexico.

Associated Press contributed to this report.