The northern part of Cuba was heavily damaged by the destructive winds of Hurricane Irma during the weekend. Although it has now been downgraded to a tropical storm, it still reached wind speeds of 260 km/h, destroying dozens of resorts on the coast and causing various power outages.
Communications remain cut off to many localities in northeastern Cuba. Waves of up to seven metres have been recorded by the Cuban meteorological service INSMET, and more than 5,000 tourists have been evacuated from islets located off the northern coast.
“These tourists, 60 per cent of whom are totally safe, have been placed in facilities prepared to receive them,’ Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero told state media, adding that access to the most vulnerable tourist areas had been closed.
The lobby at the Pullman Cayo Coco.
The hurricane has already killed at least 25 people in the Caribbean, from St. Maarten to southern Florida. The president of the government of Camaguey, Isabel Gonzalez Cardenas, confirmed ‘significant damage’ in the north and centre of the province.
Information is coming slowly because of the technological difficulties currently faced by Cuba, but several hotels have already confirmed that they have been heavily damaged by Irma.
The long causeway linking the cayos, or islets, to the main island of Cuba has also sustained heavy damage, making travel to the region particularly difficult.