Widespread power outages in Cuba after Hurricane Ian

Cuba was plunged into darkness on Tuesday evening as widespread power outages caused damage to its power grid by Hurricane Ian, state power company Union Electrica announced, explaining the national blackout as a Category 3 hurricane wreaked havoc in the west. Of the island, there were no casualties.

“#HuracanIan is moving away from the national territory, but its destructive effects persist,” Cuban Civil Defense tweeted, in a call for alert after the hurricane passed. Its center left Cuban territory around Puerto Esperanza at 9:50 p.m. (3:50 p.m. in Switzerland), according to the Cuban Meteorological Institute (Insmet).

read more: In Cuba, “significant” damage after Hurricane Ian passed through

Major damage to the island

Ian touched down in Cuba at 4:30 a.m. (10:30 a.m.) before crossing the island from south to north in the area of ​​La Coloma, a fishing village in Pinar del Río province, 190 km from Havana. Collapsed houses, torn roofs and flooded crops. Some 40,000 people have been evacuated in the province and “the damage is considerable,” indicated local Communist Party leader Yamile Ramos.

Before making landfall, Ian strengthened to a Category 3 “major hurricane” on the Saffir-Simpson scale, and graduated to a 5.

Strong winds and heavy rain persisted in the west of the island, wreaking havoc in many places, AFP journalists noted. On the road to San Juan y Martínez, 190 km from Havana, the province of Pinar del Río, home to most of the country’s tobacco plantations, was hit hardest. Crops were flooded, trees were uprooted, and power lines were down on the ground.

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President Miguel Diaz-Canel visited the worst-hit area of ​​Pinar del Rio on Tuesday. “The damage is significant,” he said on Twitter, assuring that help had been dispatched.

Florida expects

The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) has warned of a Category 3 hurricane approaching Florida’s west coast on Wednesday as a “very dangerous intense hurricane”. Ian was 375 kilometers from Sarasota, Florida on Tuesday afternoon and had sustained winds of 195 km/h with gusts of 17 km/h.

Read again: Florida and Cuba await Ian, while Fiona kills two in Canada

A state of emergency was declared across Florida and officials stepped up preparations. “Some of the modeling done now is predicting landslides south of Tampa Bay… some areas will have catastrophic flooding and deadly storm surges,” Governor Ron DeSantis warned. He asked residents to prepare for power outages and prepare for power outages while mobilizing 7,000 members of the National Guard.

US President Joe Biden has approved federal emergency aid for 24 of Florida’s 67 counties. “My administration is vigilant and taking action to help the people of Florida,” he said. Aviation assets such as helicopters are particularly poised to intervene, Pentagon spokesman Gen. Pat Ryder said.

Authorities have ordered the evacuation of people in the most vulnerable areas near the sea. The US space agency NASA has abandoned a new mega rocket to the moon that was scheduled to take off from the Kennedy Space Center in this southern US state on Tuesday.

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