Cuba evacuates 700000 as Hurricane Irma nears

Marco Green
September 12, 2017

Cuban authorities said on Friday that the six male #Dolphins, resident in the "Cable Esqui" aquarium on Cayo Guillermo, a small island off #Cuba's coast, has been moved to safety in preparation for the expected onslaught from #Hurricane Irma.

Hurricane Irma could persist for about 24 hours, pummeling territories near the turning point until it moves towards the Florida Peninsula.

The hurricane will bring storm surges reaching up to 12 feet in Florida's southwest, as well as heavy rainfalls through Tuesday night of up to 20 inches, which may cause life-threatening flash floods.

As Irma swirled off its shores, Cuba celebrated the feast day of its patron saint, Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre.

The U.S. Embassy in Havana has suspended consular services and urged Americans to avoid travel to the island, or wait out the storm in secure locations if they are unable to leave.

The impacts of powerful Hurricane Irma were suffered in the eastern part of Cuba since early this morning with tidal waves, coastal and river flooding, and fallen trees. Electricity also went out in the historic city that had been ravaged by Hurricane Matthew previous year. The city is without electricity and severe damage is reported in the coastal community of Yumurí.

Arelis Alba Coba, a journalist for La Voz del Toa, told the Cuban website CubaDebate that rivers in the Baracoa region had begun to rise.

Cuba evacuates 700000 as Hurricane Irma nears
Cuba evacuates 700000 as Hurricane Irma nears

Over three million people are included in the Cuban Civil Defense protection plans to safeguard human life.

Irma's maximum sustained winds remain at 280 km/h with higher gusts making it a potentially catastrophic tropical cyclone. Irma hit the Camaguey Archipelago with almost 160 miles per hour winds as local authorities and US-based media report.

Inskeep says they don't expect the winds to exceed 50 miles per hour where the company is in Cuba.

Taking into account the characteristics of this extreme hurricane and predicted trajectory, the National Civil Defense has chose to establish the Information Stage for the provinces of Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Granma, Holguin, Las Tunas, Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus, Cienfuegos, Villa Clara and Matanzas starting 3pm Tuesday. Cuba declared a state of alarm in Villa Clara, Sancti Spíritus, Cienfuegos and Matanzas provinces. The authorities made a decision to maintain the information stage of the protection mechanism against disasters for Sancti Spiritus, Cienfuegos and Matanzas and recommended that the western provinces of Havana, and Mayabeque continued paying attention to the INSMET reports.

Most of the tourists were evacuated from around the beaches and cays in the exposed east and centre of the island, the tourism ministry said.

The hurricane has already arrived on Cuba's northern coasts and is affecting the popular white sand tourist area. They are expected to be gone for nine-months, the National Guard.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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