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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 August 2007, 23:27 GMT 00:27 UK
Relief as hurricane spares Cancun
A ripped-out tree is seen at a street in Felipe Carrillo Puerto, south-eastern Mexico
Dean skirted most of Mexico's major tourist resorts
The BBC's Heather Alexander reports from Mexico's resort town of Cancun, which was spared a direct hit after Hurricane Dean made landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula.

In Cancun the palm trees twisted in winds of up to 100mph (160km/h) throughout the night and rain lashed against windows.

The sea came almost to the wall with waves of more than 12ft (3.7m) crashing in.

About 20,000 tourists remain in this area - most spent the night holed up in hotels behind boarded-up windows.

They were in good spirits though - some were stocked up on wine for the night and relearned childhood card games.

'Getting off lightly'

One couple told me they had deliberately stayed for the experience.

Alma Connley and her husband Jim plan to live here in the future.

"We kind of cheated," said Jim.

"We went outside on the deck and had a look at the wind and the rain and checked out what was going on.

"We haven't seen much damage here. There's a lot of relief that it hit further south, although it's too bad that a lot of those people are a lot less able to protect themselves."

The power stayed on through the night here - there is a huge sense that Cancun got off lightly.

I asked hotel manager Jorge Herran at the Meridian his assessment of the damage.

"Here I am expecting only damage to landscaping," he said.

Then I ask what he thought about the area near the border where Dean hit with full force.

"It's a poor area - there'll be huge damage - houses just won't withstand the force of these winds," he said.

We are hearing here the regional governor reporting no deaths or injuries so far, but he said they have not been able to survey the area yet.

Trading war stories

Groups of people huddled in the strongest buildings they could find - hotels or schools - as high up as they could get, but word is coming out about shattering windows and panic.

Dean has now been downgraded as it heads across the Yucatan Peninsula towards the Bay of Campeche, where Mexico's oil facilities are located.

They have already been evacuated but could still be in danger as the storm regains strength as it travels back over the warm water of the Gulf of Mexico.

Back in Cancun, British people are telling their stories of a night of 100mph winds.

Peter Billing, on holiday with his family said: "The hotel we were in had a storm shelter - it was built to withstand this kind of storm. We were very safe.''

Paula Barker, also British, says they were told to stay indoors and away from windows.

"What we were told to do was stay in our rooms and barricade our windows with mattresses. We were told that the danger would be over for the Cancun area and there wasn't a need to move us to shelters.''

Mandy Platt echoed the feelings of many here when she said: ''It was very, very noisy. We kept the telly on for the children but we're glad it's over.''


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