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Cat. 2 Paula roars off Cancun, threatens Cuba

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CANCUN, Mexico (AP) — Hurricane Paula roared off Mexico's top vacation resort of Cancun on Wednesday without immediate reports of major damage, and it was projected to veer into western Cuba's cigar-producting country.

The Category 2 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph (160 kph), swiped at the island of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres overnight during its northward trek. Late Wednesday morning, the storm was centered about 80 miles (130 kilometers) southeast of Cabo Catoche on the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Paula was expected to shift to the northeast and weaken slightly on a course that would carry it into western Cuba by Wednesday night or early Thursday.

Cuba's Civil Defense warned the population in Pinar del Rio and Isla de la Juventud to watch out for heavy rains and flooding.

There were no immediate reports of major problems in Cancun or other resort areas. Quintana Roo state officials said they could guarantee the security of all 27,000 tourists currently in the state during the October off-season.

"We can declare the coasts completely out of danger," Quintana Roo Gov. Felix Gonzalez said. "The hurricane is leaving, and we can lift the red alert."


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