Hurricane Keith soaks Belize and Mexico

Monday, October 2nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CHETUMAL, Mexico – Coastal residents of Mexico's Yucatán peninsula and northeastern Belize fled their homes Sunday as the dangerous core of Hurricane Keith came ashore, bringing strong wind and torrential rain.

Heavy rain and flooding caused at least two deaths in Central America and forced hundreds to be evacuated. Dozens of people also abandoned their homes in coastal Mexico.

The slow-moving storm lost strength Sunday evening as it drifted inland, with winds dropping to 115 mph from a high of 135 mph. It was expected to further weaken Monday, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Forecasters warned of flash floods and mudslides throughout Mexico's Yucatán peninsula, Belize, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

Hurricane Keith was virtually stationary Sunday evening, centered 60 miles south-southeast of Chetumal and 40 miles east-northeast of Belize City.

The U.S. government issued a travel warning to Americans in Belize because of flooding, the State Department said. Peace Corps volunteers and U.S. government employees in non-emergency jobs were moved out.

Mexican authorities set up 300 shelters and evacuated 6,000 people from high-risk areas in the Chetumal region, 190 miles south of Cancún. A hurricane warning remained in effect along the Yucatán peninsula's eastern shore.