Chantal's Forces Leave Two Fishermen Missing Off Yucatan Peninsula

Tuesday, August 21, 2001
Tropical Storm Chantal slowed to a stop and dumped torrential rain on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula on Tuesday after leaving two fishermen missing at sea and forcing 2,500 evacuations from the low-lying coastline.

"At 5 a.m. EDT, Chantal was in a near stationary position 15 miles south of Chetumal," said Stacy Stewart of the U.S. National Hurricane Center. "The storm is carrying torrential rains, up to 15 to 20 in.," Stewart, a hurricane specialist, said. Winds remained at 65 miles per hour (104 kph).

Chantal made landfall with winds of 70 miles per hour, around 8 p.m. local time on Monday in Quintana Roo, Mexico's most southeastern state and home to Cancun and other resorts along the "Maya Riviera."

High winds churned up Caribbean waters and left two fishermen missing. The men ignored warnings to avoid open seas during the storm, said Jose Nemesio Medina, director of the state's civil protection services.

Approximately 2,500 people in the less-developed coastal regions of Xcalat and Mahauhal zones, meanwhile, were evacuated from their homes and taken to temporary shelters in public schools in Chetumal, Quintana Roo's capital and some 18 miles (30 kms) from the hard-hit shore areas.

"Only two municipalities required immediate attention since they were the only ones affected by Chantal," said Medina. The two areas were Chetumal and the municipality of Felipe Carrillo Puerto, some 78 miles (130 kms) northwest of Chetumal.

Apart from the two missing men, no injuries, deaths or material damages were reported as of early Tuesday, according to civil protection officials.

The missing fishermen were not immediately identified, officials said.

Mexican state oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) said it saw no immediate threat to its vast Gulf of Mexico oil installations from Chantal as of Monday night and operations were continuing normally.

More than half of Mexico's oil production comes from the Campeche Sound in the southern Gulf of Mexico. Mexico is one of the top three oil exporters to the United States.

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