Hurricane Nana barrelled westward Wednesday just off the coast of Honduras on a collision course with the Central American nation of Belize, where thousands of people were stocking up on food, water and construction materials.
Long lines stretched through supermarkets and hardware store shelves were nearly bare as residents of Belize bought materials to board up windows and doors ahead of Nana's expected landfall early Thursday as a hurricane.
The US National Hurricane Center reported that Nana was located about 60 miles (95 kilometers) southeast of Belize City with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph), making it a hurricane.
The storm was moving at 16 mph (26 kph).
Belize issued a hurricane warning for its coastline. Heavy rains were expected in Belize, as well as in northern Honduras and throughout Guatemala as the storm crosses the isthmus Thursday.
Local leaders in rural villages in the southernmost district of Toledo were awaiting word from the National Emergency Management Organisation to open hurricane shelters.
As evening approached, dark clouds hung on the horizon as uneasy residents awaited the storm's arrival.
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