HAVANA – At least 10 people died as a result of powerful Hurricane Irma in Cuba, the National Civil Defense office reported on Monday.
Most of the deaths – seven of which occurred in Havana – were the result of collapsed buildings, although the hurricane although triggered severe flooding on the island’s northern coast.
President Raul Castro, in a statement published in the official newspaper Granma, appealed to “Cubans’ spirit of resistance and victory” in the wake of the devastating hurricane.
He said Cubans had responded to Irma with unity and neighborly solidarity, as well as with discipline in following the Civil Defense’s instructions.
Castro said the hurricane had caused damage to homes, the electricity grid and agriculture and that some of the island’s tourist destinations had been hard hit.
According to the president, the damage to those tourist sites will be repaired before the high season starts in November.
“These have been hard days for our people, who in just a few hours have seen how what was built with so much effort was smashed by a devastating hurricane,” Castro said.
Irma made landfall late Friday as a Category 5 storm in the Samana-Camaguey Archipelago on Cuba’s north-central Atlantic coast, the island’s first landfall of that magnitude since 1924.
It then battered the island as a Category 4 hurricane as it skirted its northern coast from east to west, triggering severe storm surge and flooding.
More than 1 million people had evacuated their homes ahead of Irma’s arrival.