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Beryl hits Jamaica, death toll from devastating hurricane rises

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Hurricane Beryl hit Jamaica. Earlier, it wreaked havoc in the southeastern Caribbean. On one island there, it damaged almost all the buildings. At least 10 people died.

Beryl hit Jamaica on Wednesday afternoon local time as a Category 4 hurricane on the five-point ascending Saffir-Simpson scale. Earlier, it wreaked havoc in the southeastern Caribbean. The element brought with it heavy rainfall and winds gusting at 215 kilometers per hour. The death toll from the devastating hurricane rose to 10.

“It's terrible, everything is gone. I'm in my house and I'm scared,” Amoy Wellington, a 51-year-old cashier from Top Hill, a resident of Jamaica's southern St. Elizabeth region, told Reuters. The woman died after a tree fell on her house, said Richard Thompson, director of Jamaica's disaster agency.

Airports in Kingston and the popular tourist resort of Montego Bay were closed and streets empty on Wednesday as Prime Minister Andrew Holness imposed a curfew.

Flooding has already begun on the east coast of Jamaica, caused by heavy rain brought by the hurricane, and wind gusts of up to 130 kilometres per hour have been reported in the capital, Kingston.

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– I appeal to all Jamaicans to treat the hurricane as a serious threat – Prime Minister Holness said on Tuesday. – However, this is not the time to panic – he added.

The predicted path of Hurricane BerylNHC

Destroyed houses, trees uprooted

Before reaching Jamaica, Beryl swept as a Category 5 hurricane over several smaller Caribbean islands – Grenada, Carriacou, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, uprooting trees, tearing off roofs and destroying farms. On Union Island, one of the islands belonging to the state of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the hurricane damaged most of the buildings. – Virtually all of the 2.5 thousand residents of the island are homeless – said the country's prime minister Ralph Gonsalves. – Union Island is in a terrible state after Beryl (…) Few buildings are still standing. Houses have been leveled, roads are blocked, power lines are lying in the street – said Katrina Coy, director of the local environmental association.

– The situation is depressing – Grenada Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell said at a press conference Tuesday. – There is no electricity, and houses and buildings on the island have been almost completely destroyed. Roads are impassable due to the large amount of rubble strewn in the streets – he said.

Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said 90 percent of homes on Union Island had been destroyed and that “a similar level of destruction” was expected on the islands of Myreau and Canouan.

Hurricane Beryl in the Dominican RepublicOrlando Barria/PAP/EPA

More countries prepare for Beryl's strike

Mexico is preparing for Beryl's arrival. The hurricane is forecast to reach the Yucatan Peninsula on Thursday evening or Friday morning. In some places on the east coast, authorities are urging residents to evacuate. Even sea turtle eggs that could be carried away by waves are being removed from beaches, AP reported. Petrochemical companies Shell and BP have begun evacuating some workers from drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, and Shell has suspended some work in the water, CNN reported. In southern Texas, officials are also offering residents voluntary evacuations and handing out sandbags as part of preparations for the potential impact of the hurricane.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 each year.

Beryl in infrared satellite imagesNOAA

Main image source: PAP/EPA/Orlando Barria



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