Hurricane Wilma battered Mexico's Caribbean coastline for a second day on Saturday, ripping away storefronts, peeling back roofs and forcing tourists and residents trapped in hotels and shelters to scramble to higher floors.
Waves slammed into seaside pools and sent water surging over the narrow strip of sand housing Cancun's hotels and bars, joining the sea with the resort's lagoon. Downtown, winds tore banks open to the elements, leaving automatic teller machines in knee-deep water.
Wilma, which had weakened to a Category 2 and was inching northward, was expected to pick up speed on Sunday, sideswiping Cuba before it slams into Florida. As the eye of the storm passed over Cancun on Saturday, the air became calm. Some residents ventured briefly from their hiding places to survey the flooded, debris-filled streets.
A brief outing during the eye's calm revealed a downtown Cancun littered with glass, tree trunks and cars up to their roofs in water. The only clean-up crew visible consisted of two workers using saws to
break up a tangle of tree branches.
State and federal officials said they had little information on damage
because Wilma's winds, at 175 kilometres per hour, made
reconnaissance almost impossible.