Hurricane Nana hits Belize, then weakens over Guatemala

PUNTA GORDA, Belize (AP) — Hurricane Nana made landfall in Belize, pelting a relatively sparsely populated stretch of the country's coast with heavy rain and wind, before weakening to a tropical depression while pushing across Guatemala on Thursday.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center reported that Nana hit land between the coastal towns of Dangriga and Placencia shortly after midnight at an area around 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Belize City with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph), making it barely a hurricane. The storm was moving westward at 15 mph (24 kph).

Later, Nana weakened to a tropical depression with maximum sustained winds near 35 mph (55 kph). It was centered about 220 miles (350 kilometers) west-northwest of Belize City and neared the border with Mexico.

Guatemala reported heavy rains, especially along its border with Mexico. The country's national disaster coordinator reported no deaths and said no one had been moved to shelters.

Forecasters said it was unlikely to restrengthen after emerging over the Pacific.

Belize authorities did not report any injuries. More than 4,000 people, primarily in the south of the country, moved to government shelters.

Belize Red Cross Director General Lily Bowman said teams were assessing damages across the country, but so far unconfirmed reports indicated the worst impact was on banana plantations.

“People were in full preparedness mode for this storm and activated their emergency plans so since it was not a big storm and the damage is contained and minimal in most areas it can be considered a good simulation,” she said.

Thousands of people stocked up on food, water and construction materials Wednesday ahead of the landfall. Long lines stretched through supermarkets and hardware store shelves were nearly bare as residents of Belize bought materials to board up windows and doors.

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