CHETUMAL, Mexico (AP) _ Hurricane Keith poured rain on Belize and the southern tip of Mexico's Caribbean coast Monday, as the deadly storm whirled just off the Belize coast.
Flooding associated with Keith has caused two deaths in Central America, and residents of Mexico's Yucatan peninsula and northeastern Belize fled their homes.
Maximum winds fell to about 90 mph as the hurricane wandered closer to land; by early Monday, it was swirling in shallow waters just 35 miles east of Belize City.
In Nicaragua, a rain-swelled river swept away a 16-year-old boy Sunday, and more than 300 people were evacuated from low-lying areas. In El Salvador, one man drowned in a river Saturday.
High winds tumbled a handful of homes in coastal villages in northern Belize, and reportedly ravaged the island village of San Pedro on Ambergris Cay, as well as nearby Caye Caulker, Red Cross officials in Belize City told The Associated Press.
Winds blew roofs off homes in both villages.
``The situation is pretty rough out there right now,'' said William Skeen, director of the Red Cross in Belize City. ``People really are in a frightened state at this time.''
The U.S. government issued a travel warning to Americans in Belize because of extensive flooding, the State Department said. Peace Corps volunteers and U.S. government employees in non-emergency jobs were moved out.
In Belize City, streets were under about a foot of water and power lines were down.
Earlier, Keith had forced over 4,000 people in Chetumal, a bay-side city on the Mexican side of the border just north of Belize, to abandon their homes. The storm's center was about 55 miles southeast of Chetumal.
The hurricane also reportedly lowered water levels in the Chetumal Bay, creating a potentially dangerous situation where the water could come surging back in and flood low-lying areas, the National Hurricane Center in Miami reported.
The storm was expected to dump as much as 20 inches of rain in its path and move northwest toward Chetumal. Army helicopters were preparing to rescue dozens of fisherman trapped on the Cayo Centro island near Chetumal.
But many of the residents in Chetumal seemed to be taking the bad weather in stride. Families waded down the streets in ankle-deep water. Others rode their bikes through the pounding rain.
``I'm used to seeing storms like this,'' said 67-year-old Jose Segovia Magana, chatting calmly with a friend at a sidewalk table in front of a downtown pharmacy. ``I'm calm. I have faith in the creator. He is the only one who can protect us.''
A hurricane warning was in effect along the Yucatan peninsula's eastern shore, from Cabo Catoche south to Monkey River Town, Belize. A hurricane watch remained in effect for the Yucatan's north coast, from west of Cabo Catoche to Progreso.