Latin America & Caribbean

Earl weakens to a tropical storm after hitting Belize

Trees fall after Hurricane Earl hits, in Belize City, Belize August 4, 2016. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Trees were uprooted by the storm in Belize City

The US National Hurricane Center has downgraded Earl to a tropical storm.

The storm, which earlier had hurricane-strength wind speeds of up to 130km/h (80mph), made landfall early on Thursday in Belize, in Central America.

Earl weakened as it moved inland with wind speeds dropping to about 105 km/h.

The storm is predicted to move across northern Guatemala and south-eastern Mexico on Thursday, where its rains could still cause flash floods and mudslides.

Earlier, heavy rains fell on Honduras.

Residents of Belize City and other coastal communities had been urged by the authorities to move inland and take advantage of higher ground or a network of storm shelters.

Officials ordered the closure of the city's international airport while archaeological reserves and national parks were shut.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Belize City was battered by hurricane-strength winds
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Residents of the Mexican beach resort of Chetumal sought shelter in local schools for the night
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Guatemalan marines were put on stand-by as the storm approached

At least nine people died on Monday in Haiti and the Dominican Republic as the storm passed over the Caribbean.

Hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones are all part of the same weather phenomenon but different names are used depending on where the storms are formed. Hurricanes form east of the International Date Line, while typhoons and cyclones form to the west.

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