Hurricane Richard bears down on Mexico oil fields

HURRICANE Richard was yesterday threatening oil fields in Mexico as it wreaked havoc in Honduras and bore down on the nearby tiny Caribbean nation of Belize.

The US National Hurricane Centre said the storm packed maximum sustained winds of 85 miles (140 km) per hour and was about 55 miles east of Belize City. It was expected to make landfall later in the day near the city.

Richard could then barrel through southern Mexico into Mexico’s oil-rich Bay of Campeche as a tropical depression, the NHC said.

Some forecasters saw Richard eventually veering north toward US oil facilities in the Gulf of Mexico, although the NHC said the storm would probably not strengthen once it enters in the Gulf.

Rain lashed down on the islands off Honduras’ north coast whose white sandy beaches are popular with foreign tourists.

Authorities said electricity had been knocked out in some areas and mudslides cut off dozens of villages.

“Thank God we don’t have any serious damage or deaths or injuries,” said Lizandro Rosales, head of Honduras’ emergency services committee.

In Belize, an impoverished country of about 330,000 people that will likely bear the brunt of the storm, families with flimsy houses were moving into shelters along the coast.