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Oct 26, 1998

Tourists take no chances

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As Belizeans called relatives inland to arrange temporary housing or contemplated going to shelters, many of the visitors to our shores– and even nearby waters — opted to try and catch a plane home. Needless to say the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport was packed by an anxious, but patient crowd. News Five was there.

As the evacuation was carried out today on the islands of San Pedro Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, the Philip Goldson International Airport was filled to capacity as tourist after tourist lined up to catch next available flight out to the United States. According to a Tropic Air spokesperson, between six a.m. and twelve thirty, p.m., they flew in between five to six hundred tourists.

Tourist #1

“We arrived here about six thirty.”

Q: “What is the atmosphere like out there on the island?”

Tourist #1

“It was really pretty calm; it was really pretty calm. It was really confused at the beginning, but things worked out by the middle of the morning.”

Q: “A lot of people evacuating from the island?”

Tourist #1

“There were still a number of people quite on the street.”

Tourist #2

“We’ve been here a week. We had intended to stay a bit longer, however, and we were looking at property to buy and develop.”

Q: “We understand the evacuation started this morning? How did the island look this morning? A lot of people leaving?”

Tourist #2

“A lot of people leaving. Locals closing up yesterday and fairly orderly; a little panic.”

Also trying to catch a flight out to the U.S. were ninety-seven passengers who were ship in from off the coast of Honduras, after their ride on the Windjammer cruise got interrupted by Hurricane Mitch.

Tourist #3

“We came off of the S.V. Phantome, off Honduras and they are evacuating everybody to Miami. We just came off from the ship.”

Tourist #4

“We left San Pedro Sula last night. Actually, I was here all night long. We went out and couldn’t get around the storm, so they brought us into Belize City to fly. So they are taking the ship out to sea to ride the storm out.”

While at this time we do not know if Hurricane Mitch will have a devastating effect on Belize, some residents in the city were not wasting any time in preparing for the powerful storm. We observed many people buying timber and boarding up their houses, even the employees at the international airport were also securing and boarding up the glass windows.

TACA airlines has announced that they added a special flight this evening leaving for Houston at six thirty.

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