Hurrican Ian left 11 million people without electricity, after almming into into the island’s western tip, before being categorised as an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm as it approached the US state of Florida’s west coast.
Ian battered the western tip of Cuba, bringing down the electricity grid and leaving the entire island without power.
The hurricane made landfall in Cuba about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday just southwest of La Coloma in the western province of Pinar del Río with maximum sustained winds of over 200 kph, according to the US National Hurricane Center.
It destroyed some of the country’s most important tobacco farms.
Images from Cuba showed parts of a cigar factory destroyed by Hurricane Ian — a scene of devastation the factory’s owner described as “apocalyptic.”
Local government station TelePinar reported heavy damage at the main hospital in Pinar del Rio city, tweeting photos of collapsed ceilings, widely flung debris and toppled trees.
Hurricane Ian’s eye wall is packed with lightning right now.
Spectacular imagery of a powerful, intensifying storm. pic.twitter.com/y09ePKIDCt
— Dakota Smith (@weatherdak) September 27, 2022
No deaths were reported. Some left the stricken area on foot, carrying their children, while buses tried to evacuated others through waterlogged streets. Others opted to stay at their damaged houses.
It is expected to hit the Tampa Bay region – among the most vulnerable places in the US for severe flooding. If it makes landfall, it would be the region’s first direct hit by a major hurricane since 1921.
Meanwhile, residents in Florida raced to board up their homes, stash precious belongings on upper floors and flee.
“You can’t do anything about natural disasters,” said Vinod Nair to the Associated Press, who drove inland from the Tampa area Tuesday with his wife, son, dog and two kittens seeking a hotel in the tourist district of Orlando. “We live in a high risk zone, so we thought it best to evacuate.”