Full power outage in Cuba after Hurricane Ian

Authorities say Cuban government workers are working to restore power after Hurricane Ian knocked out power across the island.

At least two people were killed in the hurricane as it moved through western Cuba as a Category 3 hurricane heading for Florida on Tuesday, authorities said. There was significant damage to buildings and infrastructure in the western province of Binar del Rio, where Ian made landfall earlier in the day.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the area experienced “significant wind and storm surge effects” with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph.

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Authorities initially reported 1 million people without power. Late Tuesday, they said the entire island of 11 million people had been eliminated.

“SEN has a special condition, 0 power generation (countries without electricity service), related to complex weather systems,” the Ministry of Energy and Mines tweeted at 8.42pm, using Spain’s national grid acronym.

The Cuban Electricity Union said crews would work overnight to restore power. West, Central, and East links are out of order.

“It’s a process that will take some time,” union president Lázaro Guerra Hernández told state television.

At least two people were killed in the collapsed building, the chairman of the defense committee of the province of Binar del Río, Jámile Ramos Cordero. A woman in the city of Pinar del Río in San Luis was killed when her home collapsed, he said. A man in another city died when a roof collapsed.

After the storm, Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel visited Pinar del Río. “The damage is huge, though not yet counted,” he tweeted. “Aid has poured in from all over the country.”

Elezar Moreno Ricardo, head of the electricity union network, told Communist newspaper Granma that brigades from all over the island began to move to the western provinces to restore power as soon as the weather allowed.

“Efforts to assess the damage have begun, and in some areas of Juventud Island, the first to feel the force of the hurricane, it is already possible to re-establish power services,” Granma reported shortly after 9 p.m.

Isla de la Juventud – Island of Youth – about 30 miles from mainland Cuba.

“The most complicated situation is in Binar del Río, where all transmission networks are out of service and there is a lot of damage to transformers and secondary networks,” Granma reported.

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CNN Havana bureau chief Patrick Oppman tweeted a video of him driving the Malecón, Havana’s famous seaside plaza, now flooded. Some lights can be seen in the distance.

Before Ian made landfall, officials in Pinar del Rio set up 55 shelters, evacuated 50,000 people and took steps to protect crops in the country’s main tobacco-growing regions.

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Cuba has a long history of preparing for hurricanes, but it also faces food and power shortages.The economy is struggling, partly because of the lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic and partly because of new U.S. sanctions Imposed by the Trump administration and partly maintained by the Biden administration.

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