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Hurricane Ian: Cuba begins to turn on lights after storm blacks out island

People use the light from their cell phones as they meet in a park in Havana during a blackout. Cuba was left in the dark on the night of 27 September due to a widespread blackout caused by damage to its power grid following the passage of Hurricane Ian. (AFP)Premium
People use the light from their cell phones as they meet in a park in Havana during a blackout. Cuba was left in the dark on the night of 27 September due to a widespread blackout caused by damage to its power grid following the passage of Hurricane Ian. (AFP)

Cuban officials said they had begun to restore some power Wednesday after Hurricane Ian knocked out electricity to the entire island while devastating some of the country’s most important tobacco farms

After Hurricane Ian, which struck the island's western tip as a major storm, knocked out electricity for the entire island and destroyed some of the most significant tobacco farms in the nation. Officials in Cuba announced on Wednesday that they had started to restore some power.

At least two people were reported killed in the storm.

The Energy and Mines Ministry declared that by turning on two sizable power plants in Felton and Nuevitas, it had brought electricity back to three areas and was working to restart others.

In the wake of the powerful hurricane, which had made its way north to Florida, lights began to flicker on in the capital city of Havana, but a large portion of the city and other areas of western Cuba were still without power on Wednesday. It was the first time the entire island had gone without power in recent memory, if not ever.

A neighbourhood sits dark during a blackout triggered by the passing of Hurricane Ian in Havana, Cuba, early morning Wednesday,
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A neighbourhood sits dark during a blackout triggered by the passing of Hurricane Ian in Havana, Cuba, early morning Wednesday, (AP)

Tuesday, Ian made landfall inCuba that has recently experienced frequent power outages and a deteriorating economic situation. It devastated Pinar del Ro province, where a large portion of the tobacco used to make Cuba's well-known cigars is grown, when it made landfall as a Category 3 storm on the western end of the island.

Prior to Ian's arrival, tens of thousands of people were forced to flee the area, which resulted in flooding, damaged homes, and uprooted trees. Two fatalities were reported in the province by the state media: one woman was killed by a falling wall, and the other by a roof collapse.

Tobacco company worker Caridad Alvarez stands in her house destroyed by Hurricane Ian, in San Juan y Martinez, Pinar del Rio Province, Cuba,.
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Tobacco company worker Caridad Alvarez stands in her house destroyed by Hurricane Ian, in San Juan y Martinez, Pinar del Rio Province, Cuba,. (AFP)

Ian’s winds damaged one of Cuba’s most prestigious tobacco farms, Finca Robaina. Hirochi Robaina, owner of the farm that bears his name and that his grandfather made well-known abroad, described it as "apocalyptic, a real disaster."

Robaina posted photos on social media of wood-and-thatch roofs smashed to the ground, greenhouses in rubble and wagons overturned.

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel visited the affected region, telling the population, “Although the first impact is very painful, there's nothing to do but overcome the adversity."

“Being in the hurricane was terrible for me, but we are here alive," said Pinar del Rio resident Yusimí Palacios, who asked authorities for a roof and a mattress.

Officials had set up 55 shelters and took steps to protect crops, especially tobacco.

Map tracks the forecast path of hurricane Ian and highlights the probable storm surge flooding along the coast of Florida.
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Map tracks the forecast path of hurricane Ian and highlights the probable storm surge flooding along the coast of Florida. (AP)

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Cuba suffered “significant wind and storm surge impacts" when the hurricane struck with top sustained winds of 125 mph (205 kph).

The National Hurricane Center reported on Wednesday that Hurricane Ian became a ‘extremely dangerous’ Category 4 storm as it is reached the coast of Florida in USA. With top winds of 155 mph (250 kph), Ian was even more powerful posing a serious threat to the state's infrastructure.

Local government station TelePinar in Cuba tweeted images of collapsed ceilings and downed trees while describing severe damage to the city's main hospital in Pinar del Rio. No fatalities were noted.

Social media videos from the provinces of Pinar del Rio, Artemisa, and Mayabeque showed downed power lines and closed roads. Damage was done to a hospital in Pinar del Ro.

(With inputs from AP)

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