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Last Updated: Friday, 21 October 2005, 13:40 GMT 14:40 UK
Britons caught in Hurricane Wilma
Tourists in shelters in Cancun
Mrs Farricker said between 60 and 100 Britons were with her
Britons sheltering from Hurricane Wilma in Mexico have described 150mph winds and torrents of water hitting resorts.

Tourists have been ordered inland or into shelters, with five cities on the Caribbean coast declaring emergencies as the category four hurricane nears.

Travel agents said there were thousands of Britons holidaying in the area.

About 1,000 tourists including some 80 Britons are in a sports hall in Cancun. Rachel Farricker, 39, said "a massive amount" of water was pouring in.

"It's a bit like having a timpani band on the roof," she said.

The US National Hurricane Centre said the storm could dump 10-20in (25-50cm) of rain on the Yucatan peninsula.

The Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) said there were about 8,500 Britons in the Yucatan peninsula.

"Customers, who were travelling to Mexico today (Friday) and over the weekend with FTO members, have been or will be offered alternative holiday destinations," it said in a statement.

HAVE YOUR SAY
The heavy steel shutters are secured and generators are in place
Patrick Sheehy, Homestead, Florida

"Other programmes to Cuba and Florida are currently operating normally."

The Foreign Office is advising British travellers in Mexico to contact their travel operators or hotel about their contingency plans and to follow the advice of local authorities.

It says travel and communication is likely to be "severely affected" over the next few days.

Cancun is built along a narrow spit of white sand that could also be vulnerable to the predicted 10ft (3m) storm surge of sea water.

'Dull roar'

Mrs Farricker and her husband Carl, 36, - from Altham in Lancashire - were due to leave Mexico on Thursday, but were evacuated after their flight was cancelled.

"The winds started to pick up during the week, but before that the weather was terrific," she said.

"On Wednesday morning the hotel staff started removing the sun loungers from outside the hotel, putting them away inside, and I thought: 'That's not a good sign.'

"The next day we woke up in the morning and there were notices everywhere saying Wilma was coming and everyone was told to bring a blanket, pillow and their hand luggage and get on the coach."

Vendor selling survivor tee-shirts
There were some local lads selling 'I survived Hurricane Wilma' T-shirts when we got here
Rachel Farricker
British tourist

Mrs Farricker described the sound of the storm's arrival as a "dull roar".

"The sky became greyer and greyer. It wasn't raining at all at first, then it began to spit. You could hear the wind pick up and then the noise really started."

Mrs Farricker said people were "remarkably calm" but it was noisy inside the sports hall.

"There's loud crashing and bangs going on. We're hoping it's something hitting the building, and not pulling the roof apart," she said.

Those sheltering had been told they could be in the hall for a couple of days, Mrs Farricker said.

But she said there was an emergency generator powering the hall and they had been assured there was enough food and water.

"There were some local lads selling 'I survived Hurricane Wilma' T-shirts when we got here," Mrs Farricker added.

"I think that's pushing it a bit. Assuming I'm still here I might buy one afterwards."

Playa del Carmen

Meanwhile, in Playa del Carmen - some 100 miles down the coast from Cancun - Londoner Raj Madha said the streets were flooded.

"Clearly it's very windy, the streets are about a foot deep in water," he told BBC Radio Five Live.

"On the up side, everything here is concrete so, we're not expecting a huge amount of damage.

"All the electricity has been cut, we're expecting running water to run out fairly soon, we've got about five days supply of water just in case and maybe three days supply of food."

Mexico: Tourists told to leave high-risk coastal resorts
Cuba: Coastal residents evacuated and some schools closed
US: Visitors and non-residents ordered to leave Florida Keys
Times: All times CDT (GMT -5)





FROM OTHER NEWS SITES:
Xinhua News Agency Hurricane Wilma intensifies, heads for Mexico's Yucatan - 51 mins ago
Reuters Wilma targets Mexico's Yucatan resorts - 6 hrs ago
SABC Hurricane Wilma strengthens, turns deadly in Haiti - 20 hrs ago
FOXNews.com Fla. Declares State of Emergency Ahead of Wilma - 24 hrs ago
ABCNEWS.com Wilma Threatens Florida - 24 hrs ago
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