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Hurricane Felix Strengthens as it Nears Central American Coast


Felix Strengthens into Category 5 Hurricane Near Central American Coast

U.S. meteorologists say Hurricane Felix has reached its highest intensity as it arrives just off northeastern Nicaragua.

Weather forecasters are warning that the storm has again reached the top strength level - Category Five - and is very dangerous.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the center of the storm is expected to soon cross the coastline of Nicaragua, near the border of Honduras.

Thousands of people have evacuated the countries' coastal areas to try to escape the wrath of the powerful storm, which has winds of nearly 260 kilometers-per-hour.

In Honduras, planes have made special flights to carry residents of smaller islands to the mainland. People have boarded up their windows and stockpiled food and water. However, many people have been unable to leave their homes because of transport shortages.

Hurricane warnings are in effect between the Honduran city of Limon and the Nicaraguan city of Puerto Cabezas.

People also are being warned to take care elsewhere along the countries' coasts.

Hurricane watches are posted for the Caribbean coast of Guatemala and the entire coast of Belize.

Meteorologists say the hurricane could follow a path similar to that of Hurricane Mitch, which killed at least 10-thousand people in Central America in 1998.

Meanwhile, forecasters say Tropical Storm Henriette has strengthened into a hurricane as it heads for Mexico's Baja California peninsula. A hurricane warning is in effect for the area.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.