PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico (AP) — Hurricane Beryl ripped roofs off Jamaica, tore fishing boats in Barbados and damaged or destroyed 95% of homes on two islands in St. Vincent and the Grenadines before moving toward the Cayman Islands and hitting Mexico’s Caribbean coast, killing at least seven people.

What had been the first storm to develop into a Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean, weakened slightly but remained a major hurricane. The eye of the hurricane was expected to pass just south of the Cayman Islands tonight.

Mexico’s popular Caribbean coast has prepared shelters, evacuated some small remote coastal communities and even sea ​​turtle eggs off the coast, where storm surges threaten to hit, but in nightlife areas such as Playa del Carmen and Tulum, tourists still stayed in the city for an extra night.

The Mexican Navy patrolled areas like Tulum, warning tourists in Spanish and English to prepare for the storm’s arrival.

Early Thursday morning, the storm’s center was about 500 miles (800 kilometers) east-southeast of Tulum, Mexico. Maximum sustained winds were 125 mph (205 km/h) and the storm was moving west-northwest at 21 mph (32 km/h). Beryl was expected to make landfall in the early hours of Friday in a sparsely populated area of ​​lagoons and mangroves south of Tulum, likely as a Category 2 storm. The storm was then expected to cross the Yucatan Peninsula and restrengthen over the warm Gulf of Mexico before striking a second time along Mexico’s northeastern coast near the Texas border.

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Furniture store workers board up windows to protect against the expected arrival of Hurricane Beryl, in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, Wednesday, July 3, 2024. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

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This NASA image shows Hurricane Beryl from the International Space Station on Sunday, July 1, 2024. Beryl barreled toward Jamaica on Wednesday, July 3, as islanders scrambled to prepare after the powerful Category 4 storm killed at least six people and caused significant damage in the southeastern Caribbean earlier in the day. (NASA via AP)

The storm had already demonstrated its destructive potential across much of the southeastern Caribbean.

Beryl’s eyewall hit Jamaica’s southern coast Wednesday afternoon, knocking out power and blowing roofs off homes. Prime Minister Andrew Holness said Jamaica had not yet “seen the worst of what could happen.”

“We can do what we can do, what is humanly possible, and the rest we leave in the hands of God,” Holness said.

According to the government information service, several roads in settlements in Jamaica’s interior were affected by fallen trees and electricity poles, while some communities in the north were without electricity.

Perhaps the worst happened earlier in Beryl’s orbit, when the storm hit two small islands in the Lesser Antilles.

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Michelle Forbes, director of the National Emergency Management Organization for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said about 95% of homes in Mayreau and Union Island were damaged by Hurricane Beryl.

Three people were killed in Grenada and Carriacou and another in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, officials said. Three other deaths were reported in northern Venezuela, where four people were missing, officials said.

According to Environment Minister Kerryne James, one person died in Grenada after a tree fell on a house.

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Rescue workers recover the body of a police officer who state authorities say died in a car crash while inspecting damage caused by heavy rains in Alto Lucero, Veracruz, Mexico, Tuesday, July 2, 2024. (AP Photo/Felix Marquez)

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People relax on the beach as the sun sets ahead of the expected arrival of Hurricane Beryl, in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, Wednesday, July 3, 2024. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has pledged to rebuild the archipelago.

On Wednesday afternoon in Cancun, Donna McNaughton, a 43-year-old cardiac physiologist from Scotland, had no trouble dealing with the approaching storm.

Her flight home wasn’t until Monday, so she decided to take her hotel’s advice and wait it out.

“We’re not so afraid of it. It will pass,” she said. “And we’re used to wind and rain in Scotland anyway.”

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Associated Press journalists John Myers Jr. and Renloy Trail in Kingston, Jamaica, Mark Stevenson and María Verza in Mexico City, Coral Murphy Marcos in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Lucanus Ollivierre in Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines contributed to this report.