Tropical Storm Franklin closes in on Mexico’s Yucatan

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican authorities set up shelters, cleared storm drains and evacuated low-lying areas on the Caribbean coast Monday, preparing for an overnight landfall of Tropical Storm Franklin on the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Franklin had top sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph) late Monday as its leading edge began moving inland. Its center was about 75 miles (125 kilometers) south of Tumul and the same distance east-northeast of Chetumal, capital of Quintana Roo state.

The Quintana Roo state government moved people from the most vulnerable coastal communities, Adrian Martinez, coordinator for the state’s Civil Protection agency, told Milenio television.

Shelters were prepared across the area, with one specifically designated for the residents of Mahahual, a popular beach destination. Officials urged all businesses and gas stations to close early to help clear the streets. The state government said the Chetumal airport near the border with Belize would close for the night.

Franklin was expected to come ashore sometime during the night, possibly near hurricane strength, then cross over the peninsula into the Gulf of Campeche by Tuesday on a path toward central Mexico.

A tropical storm warning was posted from Belize City north to the Mexican border and around the whole Yucatan. Tropical storm-force winds extended up to 140 miles (220 kilometers) from the center.