(Update adds details throughout, complete rewrite)
Cancun, Mexico, Oct 7 (efe-epa).- The Yucatan Peninsula in southeastern Mexico was hit by Hurricane Delta on Wednesday, causing widespread damage and flooding, and the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.
There were hours of tension in the region prior to the arrival of Delta, which entered as a category 2 hurricane in the north of the island of Cozumel, Mexican Caribbean, at 5.45 am local time (10:45 GMT), with winds of up to 160 kilometers per hour.
“So far there has been no loss of human life due to Hurricane Delta and we have evacuated almost 40,000 people in Yucatán and Quintana Roo,” the government of Mexico said on social media.
It added that “more than 10,000 members of the civil and military forces protect the population.”
Hours earlier, Quintana Roo Governor Carlos Joaquín González announced that “we have no injuries, nor any report of any death” in the region.
The state leader reported that his government would carry out inspections of several municipalities in the north, especially the tourist municipalities of Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos, Cozumel and Isla Mujeres, and would later evaluate the possibility of announcing a return to normal activity the same day.
By Wednesday evening, residents and tourists in Cancun were walking through the streets of the usually busy areas, observing the damage, such as fallen trees, that Delta left in its wake.
Dozens of travelers and local residents were walking along Kukulkan Boulevard on Wednesday taking photos of damaged trees and poles, as well as submerged boats. Some were exercising and walking their pets.
Yucatán Governor Mauricio Vila sent the Mexican government a request for an emergency declaration for 19 affected municipalities in the east of the state.
In this regard, the head of the State Coordination of Civil Protection, Enrique Alcocer, indicated that the 19 municipalities reported damage to houses and flooded streets, as well as downed trees and a lack of electricity and drinking water, among other problems.
Previously, the state government indicated that the hurricane mainly affected four coastal communities in the eastern zone, adjacent to Quintana Roo: El Cuyo, Las Coloradas, San Felipe and Río Lagartos.
More than 7,115 people left the area – some on their own to other towns, and others with the support of the municipal, state and federal governments – and were taken to shelters, set up mainly in the city of Tizimín (170 kilometers east of Mérida, capital of Yucatán).
In the state of Campeche, Governor Carlos Miguel Aysa González said that the entity’s authorities followed the passage of Delta attentively “and although it does not pose a greater danger for the state, it will leave the effects of rains and weak winds in some areas.”
In its report at 4 pm (21:00 GMT), the National Meteorological Service indicated that Delta, now a category 1 hurricane, was located in the Gulf of Mexico and its wide circulation was causing rain, strong gusts of winds and high waves in the Yucatan peninsula, and rain in the states from Tabasco and Chiapas.
In addition, it was to cause very heavy rain in Quintana Roo, Campeche, Yucatán and Tabasco, and Chiapas.
To protect the population, the Mexican government deployed 5,796 members of the national defense, 1,971 of the navy, 675 of the national guard, 96 of civil protection and 46 of the National Water Commission to the southeast of the country.
In addition to 928 municipal and 130 state police from Quintana Roo, a command post was installed in the resort of Cancun which, along with its surroundings, was expected to be the area experiencing the greatest problems.
“A damage assessment committee will be set up once the emergency is over,” the national coordinator for Civil Protection, Laura Velázquez Alzúa, said in a virtual conference.
The hurricane had affected power to at least 266,000 users in the region, authorities said. EFE-EPA