Thousands of people yesterday were evacuated, buildings boarded up and classes canceled on Mexico’s Pacific coast as Hurricane Willa threatened to batter tourist resorts with high winds and heavy rains.
Residents on Monday night sealed off windows and doors with large wooden planks on hotels facing the historic downtown boardwalk of Mazatlan, a popular coastal city in the state of Sinaloa, as tourists strolled nearby and palm trees swayed in a light breeze.
Forecast to be one of the most powerful hurricanes to enter Mexico from the Pacific in the past few years, Willa was expected to strike a few miles south of Mazatlan as soon as yesterday afternoon.
At a gas station on the city’s outskirts, a steady line of cars lined up to refuel and shop at the neighboring convenience store.
Station attendant Zulema Pardo said that residents had been streaming through for hours to stock up on basic items, buying enormous jugs of water and gasoline, and leaving the bread shelf completely empty.
“People are really scared,” she said. “People are crazy and worked up.”
Late on Monday, the storm was advancing about 130km west of Las Islas Marias Islands opposite Nayarit, the state south of Sinaloa, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said.
Several other tourist getaways in Nayarit, as well as the beach resort of Puerto Vallarta in the state of Jalisco, also lie near the path of the storm, which is forecast to bring a “life-threatening storm surge, wind and rainfall,” the hurricane center said.
Willa, classified a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, was blowing maximum, sustained winds of about 225kph on Monday night, the center said.
Headed northward, Willa is forecast to weaken after hitting the coast, it said.
More than 10,000 people were being evacuated and schools would be closed, Nayarit State Governor Antonio Echevarria said, adding that locals should not defy the storm.
“Let’s not play the macho. Let’s not act like superheroes,” he said. “It’s a very strong hurricane, very potent, and we don’t want any tragedies.”
Sinaloa also canceled classes in much of the state.
Up to 45cm of rainfall could pummel the storm zone, the center said.
Even buildings up to 500m from the coastline could lose power and suffer physical damage, the Mexican National Meteorological Service said.
Despite the looming threat, some tourists appeared unfazed.
“It doesn’t ruin the pleasure of being here,” said vacationer Angel Avelar, popping open a beer while dangling his feet off the boardwalk. “Maybe things will be different tomorrow.”
‘TRAVEL FREELY’: Visitors from 10 countries deemed low-risk would be allowed into Thailand, while others must still undergo a week of quarantine at a hotel Thailand plans to fully reopen to vaccinated tourists from countries deemed low risk from Nov. 1, the country’s leader said on Monday, citing the urgent need to save the kingdom’s ailing economy. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Thailand attracted nearly 40 million visitors a year drawn to its picturesque beaches and robust nightlife, with tourism making up almost 20 percent of its national income. However, pandemic-related travel restrictions have left the economy battered, contributing to its worst performance in more than 20 years. Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha announced that the country would be reopening its borders to vaccinated tourists travelling by air from
Vaccination is highly effective at preventing severe cases of COVID-19, even against the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, a vast study in France has shown. The research published yesterday — focusing on prevention of severe COVID-19 and death, not infection — looked at 22 million people over 50 and found those who had received jabs were 90 percent less likely to be hospitalized or die. The results confirm observations from the US, the UK and Israel, but researchers say it is the largest study of its kind so far. Looking at data collected starting in December last year, when France launched its vaccination campaign,
Australia’s highest court yesterday dismissed an intellectual freedom claim by a university physicist who was fired in part over his public statements that scientists exaggerated damage to the Great Barrier Reef. Five High Court judges unanimously dismissed physicist Peter Ridd’s claim that he had been unlawfully dismissed in 2018 by James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland. The court ruled that a clause in his employment contract that protected his intellectual freedom was not a “general freedom of speech” clause and did not protect him from being fired for serious misconduct under the university’s code of conduct. Australian Minister for Education Alan Tudge said
South Korea yesterday said that it would lift COVID-19 restrictions on social gatherings next week as the country prepares to switch to a “living with COVID-19” strategy amid rising vaccination levels. A new panel established this week is drawing up a plan for a gradual lifting of curbs, aiming to lift restrictions and reopen the economy next month on the expectation that 80 percent of the adult population will be fully vaccinated. From Monday, the South Korean government is to allow gatherings of up to four unvaccinated people and ease operating-hour restrictions imposed on venues such as restaurants, cafes and cinemas, South