At least three people have died and more than 170 others injured after a powerful tornado struck in Cuba.
‘The damage is severe, so far we regret the loss of three human lives and treated 172 injured’
The cyclone hit the capital of Havana on Sunday evening and a number of neighbourhoods have been left badly damaged, .
Wind speeds reached more than 65mph, according to local media, and several districts have been left with no power, while others have been further hit by landslides.
Across the city, photos of the devastation caused by the tornado show cars overturned, trees uprooted, and lampposts knocked down. Streets have been left strewn with debris and rubble where housing facades have been destroyed by the storm, while the force of the wind managed to suck the windows out of their frames in a maternity hospital, causing those inside to be evacuated.
Miguel Diaz-Canel, the President of Cuba, announced three deaths had occurred on Monday morning. He said he had been travelling across the city meeting people who had been affected, and posted photos of himself on Twitter with rescue workers.
Diaz-Canel said on Twitter: “The damage is severe, so far we regret the loss of three human lives and treated 172 injured.”
Cuban actor Luis Silva wrote on Instagram: “Strong tornado in Havana… I had to avoid falling tiles, floods, strong winds…
“…We had a big scare. I am very sorry for the number of people affected right now.”
Residents described the tornado as sounding “like a jet engine” as it made landfall after forming in the Gulf of Mexico.
Estamos recorriendo lugares afectados por fenómeno atmosférico de gran intensidad en Regla. Los daños son severos, hasta el momento lamentamos la pérdida de 3 vidas humanas y se atienden 172 heridos. Varias brigadas trabajando ya en el restablecimiento #SomosCuba pic.twitter.com/mPo9yAnaZy
— Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez (@DiazCanelB) January 28, 2019
Julio Menendez, a 33-year-old restaurant worker, told the Associated Press that Havana’s 10th of October borough “looks like a horror movie” after the tornado swept through.
Mr Menendez, who was home Sunday night when the tornado hit, says “from one moment to the next, we heard a noise like an airplane falling out of the sky. The first thing I did was go hug my daughters” — who are nine and 12.
Armando Caymares, from the Cuban meteorological institute Insmet, told Cubadebate that forecasters had observed the tornado forming out to sea.
Cuba is no stranger to natural disasters, but tornadoes are more of a rare occurrence, and the hurricane season usually runs between June to November.
The Foreign Office in the UK advises the British public to monitor the progress of storms on the National Hurricane Centre website, to follow local weather advisories and contact your travel company, cruise operator, or local tour representative to check for any changes to travel arrangements.
The department hasn’t yet updated its information on Cuba, but its Tropical Cyclones page has details on what to do if caught up in a tropical storm. It is likely flights will be cancelled as authorities in Havana deal with the aftermath.
The Foreign Office’s latest update on Cuba, posted on 15 January, said: “The hurricane season in the Caribbean frequently coincides with heavy rains, which may cause flash floods and landslides.
“In the aftermath of a hurricane in Cuba, power, communications and water supplies can be disrupted. Even in holiday resorts, utility services can’t be guaranteed. In the event of extreme weather conditions flights to and from Cuba may be delayed or cancelled.”
Additional reporting by AP