TROPICAL STORM Earl formed on Tuesday morning in the Caribbean Sea as the strengthening system tracked west towards Central America. The fast-moving storm brought heavy rains and strong winds to the Dominican Republic on Monday and caused at least six deaths in the country.
The system, which was moving south of the country in the Caribbean Sea, knocked down power lines on Sunday near the northeastern town of Nagua and started a fire that killed six passengers on a bus filled with people returning from a beach excursion. At least 12 others on board were injured, according to Diego Pesqueira, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in Santo Domingo.
Conditions from the system may have also caused a tour boat to overturn near the Samana Peninsula on Sunday. Authorities recovered the bodies of three people and said four others were still missing. Military spokesman Arsenio Maldonado said a small craft advisory was in effect at the time but a cause of the incident has not yet been determined.
The Dominican Emergency Operations Centre said that 19 of the 32 provinces were on alert for potential flooding as the system continued to pass south of the country.
The Jamaica Meteorological Service advised small vessels to return to shore as the storm moved west with strong winds and heavy rain. It said that flash flooding is likely across the island as a result of the storm, especially in low-lying areas in southern Jamaica.
On Tuesday morning the storm was centred about 210 miles south of Grand Cayman. It had top sustained winds of 50mph and was speeding west at 22mph. The US National Hurricane Center in Miami said that Earl was threatening to bring heavy rains, flooding and high winds to Mexico, Belize and Honduras. All three countries issued Tropical Storm warnings for some areas, and a hurricane watch was issued for part of the Mexican coast.