A hurricane warning has been imposed on parts of the of Belize as Tropical Storm Earl battered the central American country.

The storm, which is responsible for the deaths of six people in the Dominican Republic, may dump as much as 12 inches of rain in parts of Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, and southern Mexico.

The National Emergency Management Organisation in Belize warned that heavy rain could cause flash floods and mud slides, and create a storm surge along the shore.

The closure of the city’s international airport was ordered yesterday while archaeological reserves and national parks were also shut.

The Belize Tourism Board announced that cruise ship calls have been cancelled for this week.

Residents of Belize City and other coastal communities are being urged by the authorities to move inland to higher ground or a network of storm shelters.

About 400 people are reported to have been evacuated from the northern islands of Belize.

The US National Hurricane Center said Earl was blowing at speeds of up to 75mph.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “A hurricane warning is in effect for parts of the country. You should monitor the progress of this tropical cyclone and follow the advice of the local authorities, including any evacuation orders.”

The FCO also warned of hazardous sea and weather conditions in some northern and eastern parts of neighbouring Guatemala.