At Least 10 Dead In Cuba After Hurricane Irma

The municipality of Esmeralda in Camagüey was among those most affected by Hurricane Irma. (Courtesy)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 11 September 2017 – At least ten people have died in Cuba as a consequence of Hurricane Irma, according to information received this Monday from Cuba’s Civil Defense General Staff.

Most of those who died were killed in building collapses, seven of them in Havana, as the hurricane caused heavy flooding on the north coast of the country.

In a message addressed to the population, Raul Castro appealed to the “Cuban people’s spirit of resistance and victory” after the “devastating” hurricane, which caused “severe damage” to the country, according to a statement published in the official newspaper Gramma.

Castro emphasized that under these circumstances “the unity of Cubans, solidarity between neighbors and the discipline of the guidelines issued by the Civil Defense General Staff have prevailed.”

Castro said that the cyclone has caused “damage to homes, the electrical system and agriculture,” and also hit some of the island’s “tourist destinations.”

“These have been difficult days for our people, who just a few hours ago have seen the effort to forcefully respond to this blow from a devastating hurricane,” the country’s president added.

As a result of Irma’s passage through the most popular tourist destinations in the country, the tourist company Thomas Cook reported Monday that it will evacuate more than 2,000 United Kingdom tourists from Cuba and will send additional personnel to Cuba to coordinate assistance to the passengers.

“We are working on an evacuation plan for our 2,350 customers in Varadero to bring them home in the coming days. We have an additional 26 members of our special assistance team waiting to fly from the UK to provide additional support to our customers as soon as we can reach the airports in Cuba,” said the company’s statement.

This measure was taken after several tourists complained about the lack of information about their situation.

On the other hand, a spokeswoman for the tour operator Thompson said that tourists arriving in Cuba will continue with their holidays as planned because the hurricane has already passed.

On Friday and Saturday Irma was a category 4 storm as it punished the north coast of Cuba from east to west, causing serious flooding on the coast and forcing the evacuation of 1.7 million people.