Florida braces for Hurricane Irma after Cuba landfall

Sep 10

Millions of US state of Florida residents have been ordered to evacuate after Hurricane Irma killed at least 25 people in the eastern Caribbean and left destruction in its wake.

Irma made landfall as a Category Five storm in Camaguey Archipelago on Cuba’s north-central Atlantic coast packing 260 kilometres per hour winds late on Friday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

Category Five is the NHC’s most powerful designation.

‘Chaos’ in Caribbean islands after Hurricane Irma

One of the fiercest Atlantic storms in a century, Irma weakened on Saturday to Category Four and then to a Category Three, packing 205km/h.

It was expected to strengthen again before hitting Florida on Sunday morning, bringing massive damage from wind and flooding to the fourth-largest US state by population.

The scenes along Cuba’s coast were gradually coming to resemble horrors of other Caribbean islands over the last week as Irma barreled in for a direct hit at Ciego de Avila province around midnight.

Al Jazeera’s Julia Galiano, reporting from Cuba’s capital, Havana, said it would take several hours to assess the extent of damages in the country while the storm makes the expected right turn heading to Florida.

Residents head into a shelter in Estero, Florida, ahead of the downfall of Hurricane Irma [Adrees Latif/Reuters]

“Cuban officials said this morning that one million residents had been evacuated ahead of the storm,” Galiano said.

“Cuba has a very well functioning system when it comes to preparedness for these kinds of disasters, which results in much lower numbers of victims compared to the rest of the region.”Aljazeera


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