Hurricane Ian swept through western Cuba causing extensive damage

Hurricane Ian swept through western Cuba causing extensive damage

Category 3 Hurricane Ian swept across western Cuba on Tuesday, causing major damage with gusts of up to 137 mph (208 km/h) and torrential rain before heading north towards Florida, United States.

No casualties have been reported for the time being, according to authorities, but strong winds in the west of the island have continued, AFP journalists noted.

The hurricane, which made landfall at 4:30 a.m. (08:30 GMT) in the town of La Coloma, a fishing village in Pinar del Rio province (southwest), began heading north of the sea five hours later meet The province in Puerto Esperanza pointed to the Cuban Institute of Meteorology (INSMET).

Over the next few hours, “Hurricane Ian’s organization and intensity will not change significantly,” it will “keep a northerly path, gradually move across the southeastern Gulf of Mexico, and move its center away from Cuban territory,” the institute said in a statement Opinion.

Wind gusts reached 208 km/h and “heavy and intense rain” was recorded totaling more than 200 millimeters of water in some areas.

Flooding also hit coastal areas in the south-west and north-west of the island, particularly in the La Coloma area.

“Devastation and Destruction. We have experienced hours of terror. There is nothing left,” a resident of Pinar del Rio told his son, a local television journalist who shared the testimony on social media.

On Monday evening, the provinces of Pinar del Río and Artemisa, as well as the island of Juventud, 340 km south of Havana, were put on “highest” alert by the Cuban civil defense.

In Pinar del Rio, authorities have already evacuated 40,000 people, according to local Communist Party leader Yamilé Ramos.

The first images circulated on social networks showing flooded streets and paths, strewn with uprooted trees and torn branches and damaged power poles.

According to an official from the national electric company interviewed by state television, the provinces of Pinar del Rio and Artemisa were without electricity and 315 lines in the rest of the west of the island were damaged.

Prior to landfall, Ian had evolved into a Category 3 “major hurricane” on the Saffir-Simpson scale, ranging up to 5.

In the capital, which is home to 2.1 million people and felt gusts of 80 km/h, two houses partially collapsed, according to Alexis Acosta, the intendant of the Old Havana district.

– Florida on alert –

According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in the United States, Ian should pass “west of the Keys Archipelago” in southern Florida “at the latest during the day” on Tuesday and “approach the west coast of Florida on Wednesday or Wednesday night. “

“An intensification (of the hurricane) is expected upon arrival in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico,” the NHC said.

The largest island in the British Cayman Islands Territory, Grand Cayman, also issued a hurricane warning.

A state of emergency has been declared across Florida and authorities are stepping up preparations.

Ian “will cause heavy rain, strong winds, flash floods and storm surges, and isolated tornadoes along Florida’s Gulf Coast,” Gov. Ron DeSantis warned.

He urged residents to stock up and prepare for blackouts while he mobilized 7,000 National Guard members.

US President Joe Biden has approved federal emergency aid for 24 of Florida’s 67 counties.

NASA has canceled Tuesday’s planned launch of its new mega rocket to the moon from Kennedy Space Center in this southern United States state.

In Honduras, more than 12,000 people have been evacuated to the north of the country after flooding caused by the rains linked to the passage of Ian, authorities said. The rains are on top of those of the past few weeks, which have led to flooding that has killed 13 people. A state of emergency has been declared in the country.

Ian follows Hurricane Fiona, which devastated Canada‘s Atlantic coast on Saturday, killing three people after killing seven in the Caribbean last week.


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