Hurricane Rina is strengthening in the western Caribbean as it edges closer to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, where a hurricane watch is in effect.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Rina intensified Monday into a Category 2 hurricane with winds of 160 kilometers per hour. It is expected to strengthen further into a “major” hurricane by early Wednesday.
Rina’s projected path shows it hitting the popular Mexican resort of Cancun late Thursday. The U.S. weather agency issued the hurricane watch for the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula from north of Punta Gruesa to Cancun.
The storm’s center was more than 400 kilometers east of the Mexican city of Chetumal early Tuesday local time and was slowly moving west.
Meanwhile, Nicaraguan authorities were searching for a navy boat that disappeared during a mission to evacuate coastal residents as the storm approached on Sunday. Officials say 27 people were on board the vessel when contact was lost.
Heavy rains have hit parts of Central America in recent weeks, causing deadly flooding and damaging vast areas of farmland.