Hurricane Irma continues battering north coast of central Cuba

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-09 21:59:40|Editor: Yurou


Palm trees struggle against strong wind at the Santa Lucia Beach in Camaguey of Cuba Sept. 8, 2017. Hurricane Irma continued to batter Cuba's northeast coast on Friday with strong wind and waves. (Xinhua/Str)

HAVANA, Sept. 9 (Xinhua)-- Hurricane Irma on Saturday continued whipping the northern coast and keys of central Cuba after it made landfall in the central part of the country.

At 6:00 a.m. local time (1000 GMT), Irma's core was located at 22.5 degrees north latitude and 79.0 degrees west longitude, exactly over Santa Maria island and about 50 km east southeast of the town of Caibarien in central Villa Clara province, Cuban's Institute of Meteorology reported.

Hurricane Irma, a powerful Category 4 storm, swept Cuba's northeastern Romano Key late Friday in the central province of Camaguey.

It kept maximum sustained winds up to 250 km per hour during the night, with higher gusts and a minimum pressure of 930 hectopascal while moving towards west at 19 km/h.

With this movement, the storm is most likely to impact the north of Cuba's western territories on Saturday, including the capital Havana, which could be affected by heavy rains and coastal floods as well as tropical winds.

According to the forecast, in Havana's famous sea front promenade El Malecon, coastal flooding will begin at the end of the morning with waves of between 3 to 4 meters, which is expected to reach between 6 to 7 meters in the afternoon and evening.

More than 1 million people have been evacuated in several provinces in eastern and central Cuba, which were heavily impacted by Irma, local authorities said Friday.

Besides putting local residents in peril, the storm badly damaged more than 50 hotels in the northern Camaguey archipelago, a popular tourist attraction in Cuba.

At some time on Saturday, Irma will start to make a northwest turn and head to the U.S. state of Florida for a direct hit on Sunday.

Irma is considered the most powerful Atlantic hurricane on record. It left at least 20 people dead in the Caribbean and destroyed the islands of Barbuda and St. Martin.

KEY WORDS: Hurricane Irma