Hurricane Ian knocks out electricity in Cuba

Tropical storm-force winds were expected in the southern peninsula on Tuesday evening, reaching hurricane force on Wednesday – when the eye was expected to make landfall. With tropical storm-force winds extending 140 miles (225 kilometers) from Ian’s center, damage was expected across a wide area of ​​Florida.

Ian’s forward motion was expected to slow over the Gulf, allowing the hurricane to widen and strengthen. The hurricane warning extended Tuesday to cover about 220 miles (350 kilometers) of Florida’s west coast. The region includes Fort Myers as well as Tampa and St. Petersburg, which could be hit directly by a major hurricane for the first time since 1921.

As the center of the storm moved into the Gulf, scenes of destruction emerged in Cuba’s famous tobacco belt. The owner of leading cigar producer Finca Robaina posted photos on social media of broken wooden and thatched roofs on the ground, greenhouses in rubble and overturned wagons.

« It was apocalyptic, a real disaster, » wrote Hirochi Robaina, grandson of the operation’s founder.

Local government station TelePinar reported heavy damage to the main hospital in the city of Pinar del Rio, tweeting pictures of collapsed ceilings and toppled trees. No deaths have been reported.

At the White House, President Joe Biden said his administration was sending hundreds of Federal Emergency Management Agency workers to Florida and seeking to assure mayors in the storm’s path that Washington would meet their needs. He urged residents to comply with orders from local authorities.

« Your safety is more important than anything, » he said.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden spoke later Tuesday night with DeSantis about federal measures to help Florida prepare for the storm and the two pledged to close coordination.


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