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Hurricane Beryl moves toward Mexico after hitting Jamaica

​The impending storm, with winds reaching as high as 136 mph, caused hundreds of Jamaicans to rush to supermarkets to stock up on supplies.

High waves crash along the beach in Kingston, Jamaica, before the arrival of Hurricane Beryl on July 3, 2024. - Beryl churned towards Jamaica on July 3, with forecasters warning of potentially deadly winds and storm surge, after at least seven people were killed and widespread destruction was reported across the southeastern Caribbean. The powerful hurricane, which is rare so early in the Atlantic season, was expected to pass over Jamaica around midday as a

High waves break on the beach in Kingston, Jamaica, ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Beryl on July 3, 2024.AFP

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Hurricane Beryl rocked Jamaica's southern coast Wednesday with dangerous winds and storm surges after causing at least seven deaths and substantial damage in the southeastern Caribbean before moving toward the Yucatan Peninsula in southeastern Mexico.

Its passage over the island of Jamaica left more than 400,000 residents without power and "flash floods and landslides linked to torrential rains" are still expected overnight. It is also feared that it may approach or even make landfall in the Cayman Islands, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported.

This is the first storm to reach Category 4 in a month in June and Category 5 in July since the NHC has had records.

Jamaicans have rushed to buy food, water, gasoline and other necessities. In the port areas, some residents pulled boats out of the water and tied them to fences.

On Wednesday afternoon, Beryl was advancing with maximum sustained winds of 136 mph (equivalent to about 220 km/h), according to the NHC.

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness, declared a curfew on the island between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. (local time) and urged citizens to respect the evacuation orders.

"If you live in a low-lying area historically prone to flooding and landslides or if you live along a river," he said in a video posted on social media, "I implore you to evacuate to a shelter, or to safer ground."

Desmon Brown, manager of Kingston's National Stadium, said his staff had mobilized to be prepared.

"We've boarded up the windows, we've covered our equipment, including computers, printers and that sort of thing. The rest is mostly concrete, so there's not much we can do," Brown told the Jamaica Observer newspaper.

Meanwhile, Mexico was finalizing an emergency operation, with hundreds of military, marines and other agents, in view of the advance of the cyclone after its passage through the islands.

It is expected that between Thursday night and early Friday morning it will hit the Yucatan Peninsula, including the tourist town of Tulum and the town of Felipe Carrillo Puerto, according to the Mexican government's Civil Protection coordinator, Laura Velazquez.

The Tulum airport will suspend operations 24 hours before impact, while fishermen in Felipe Carrillo Puerto have already been evacuated.

In addition, authorities set up 112 shelters with capacity for some 20,000 people and suspended classes in the state of Quintana Roo, where Beryl will hit.

"No communications"

The hurricane has left at least seven dead in its path with three dead in Grenada, where the storm made landfall Monday; one in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and three in Venezuela, according to local authorities.

Grenada's prime minister, Dickon Mitchell, said the island of Carriacou has been almost cut off, with homes, telecommunications and fuel facilities wiped out after the hurricane's passage.

"We have had almost no communication with Carriacou in the last 12 hours, except briefly this morning by satellite phone," Mitchell told a news conference.

This 35-square-kilometer island has about 9,000 inhabitants. At least two people died there and a third died on the country's main island, Grenada, when a tree fell on a house, Mitchell said.

In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, one person was reported dead on the island of Bequia because of the storm. In Venezuela, three people died in the coastal state of Sucre, where two men and two women were also reported missing.

The United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) warned Wednesday that Beryl could endanger at least three million children and adolescents in the Caribbean after damaging safe spaces for them, "including their homes and schools."

"As Hurricane Beryl continues its path through the Caribbean Sea, every effort must be made to prevent loss of life and keep children safe," said Karin Hulshof, Unicef's regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean.