Tourists have been fleeing Mexico's Caribbean coast as Hurricane Rina blew through popular vacation spots like Cancun, leading to a hectic travel circuit for residents and vacationers.
According to the Miami-based National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Rina was a Category 1 storm that was expected to sweep by the eastern coast of the Yucatan peninsula by Thursday evening. About 2,800 people were evacuated from the island off Yucatan’s northeastern tip including 200 tourists.
Cancun's airport remained open. However, more than 90 flights in and out of the city were canceled for Thursday. In an attempt to flee the area before any damage was done, hundreds of passengers bogged down with luggage and formed long lines at airport counters while waiting for departing flights.
Emergency service officials in Cancun’s home state of Quintana Roo have advised people in the area to take cover as Rina had winds dropping 85 mph (140 kph) even after the storm was downgraded from a Category 2 storm, as measured by the Saffir-Simpson scale.
Juan Carlos Gonzalez, Quintana Roo's secretary of tourism, urged prospective travelers to reschedule their vacations to avoid running into Rina.
Many passengers reported the storm ruined their trip in some way or another. One tourist who was in Cancun on her honeymoon told Reuters how disappointed she was.
"Rina ruined our plans, we wanted to go to the beach, scuba dive and go to the marine parks ... we can't get in the ocean," said Raquel Cortes.
Head of civil protection for the Cancun area Felix Diaz said on Wednesday, "Above all, we're acting in flood prone areas with fragile housing, which are the zones we have to evacuate first."
Rina was the sixth hurricane in the 2011 Atlantic season. The storm was located about 140 miles (225 km) south of Cozumel Island at 10 p.m. on Wednesday and was moving west at 6 mph (9 kph).
Here is a video report from the Associated Press on Hurricane Rina: