Hurricane Rina strengthens in Caribbean

October 24, 2011

An increasingly powerful Hurricane Rina barreled towards Mexico’s popular Caribbean beaches on Tuesday, as a Nicaraguan ship feared lost at sea was found with all 27 people aboard safe.

Rina, already packing 105 mile (165 kilometer) per hour winds, was forecast to become a major Category 3 storm by early Wednesday before crashing into the Mexican coast near the tourist hotspot of Cancun on Thursday night.

On Tuesday, Rina had moved about 300 miles (480 kilometers) east-southeast of Chetumal, Mexico, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said.

The storm was moving west-northwest at three miles (six kilometers) per hour and was expected to dump between two to four inches (five to 10 centimeters) of rain on land.

A Nicaraguan naval vessel that disappeared on Sunday with 27 people on board during an evacuation mission ahead of the storm was found with its occupants all “safe and sound” officials said.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega had ordered the ship to remove people from flood-prone coastal areas but contact was lost after four sailors had picked up 23 fishermen, the nation’s military said.

The country’s civil defense chief, Lieutenant Colonel Freddy Herrera, told AFP that a shrimping boat was trawling when it chanced upon the missing navy boat and notified the authorities, who had been hunting for it for two days.

The naval vessel was one of three ships dispatched Sunday by Ortega to help evacuate indigenous Miskito residents from Sandy Bay, a coastal town north of the provincial capital Bilwi.

It picked up a fishing party of 23 that included nine women and a child.

Central America is still struggling to recover from recent torrential rains that triggered deadly flooding and landslides, swamped huge swathes of farmland, and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

More than 100 people across the region were killed, including 36 in Guatemala, 34 in El Salvador, 18 in Honduras and five in Costa Rica.

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