The Latest: Earl upgraded to hurricane as it nears Belize

BELMOPAN, Belize (AP) " The Latest on Hurricane Earl (all times local):

4 p.m.

Earl has been upgraded to a hurricane as the system bears down on Belize, threatening flash floods and mud slides.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says Earl had top sustained winds Wednesday of 75 mph (120 kph). It was moving west at 14 mph (22 kph) toward Belize and was about 150 miles (240 kilometers) east of Belize City.

A hurricane warning has been issued for the coast of Belize. A tropical storm warning is in effect for the Honduran coast.

Forecasters said Earl was threatening to bring heavy rains, flooding and high winds to Mexico, Belize and Honduras, and was likely to blow past Honduras' Roatan Island, a popular tourist destination, on Wednesday afternoon.

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8:50 a.m.

Tropical Storm Earl is expected to strengthen into a hurricane before it makes landfall, probably in Belize, forecasters said Wednesday.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said that Earl was threatening to bring heavy rains, flooding and high winds to Mexico, Belize and Honduras, and was likely to blow past Honduras' Roatan Island, a popular tourist destination, on Wednesday afternoon.

All three of those countries issued tropical storm warnings for some areas, and a hurricane warning was issued for part of Mexico.

On Sunday, Earl was a weaker tropical wave but knocked down power lines and started a fire that killed six passengers on a bus in the Dominican Republic.

Early Wednesday, the storm was centered about 120 miles (195 kilometers) east of Roatan, with maximum sustained winds near 65 mph (100 kph) and was moving west near 14 mph (22 kph).

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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