Cuban migrants disappear at sea as Hurricane Ian makes landfall in Florida


The strong winds and storms brought by Hurricane Ian caused a boat with dozens of Cuban migrants to capsize off the coast of Florida on Wednesday (28), according to information from the US state police. Of this total, 23 are missing.

Four migrants who were on the boat managed to swim to land near Key West, an island south of Florida affected by the Ian hours earlier, Miami patrol chief Walter Slosar said. All were hospitalized. Key West is the northernmost point in the state and is about 150 kilometers from Cuba.

The hurricane made landfall in Florida on Wednesday after passing through Cuba, causing gusts of wind, waves and catastrophic flooding, according to a bulletin from the National Hurricane Center. The intensity of the phenomenon came close to reaching category 5, the worst, in which winds can reach 240 kilometers per hour. Only two Category 5 storms have affected the United States in the last 30 years, both in Florida.

The next few hours along the state’s southwest coast and inland will be critical, according to meteorologists, who predict extreme danger. Millions of residents are under warning or order to evacuate their cities, but Governor Ron DeSantis warned Wednesday that it was too late for those left in Collier, Lee, Sarasota and Charlotte counties, predicted to be hit by the strongest part of the storm. .

In Cuba, the hurricane collapsed the electricity grid on Tuesday (27), leaving the entire country without power. Cuba’s electrical system is fragile and outdated, largely dependent on Soviet-era oil-fired power plants, and has already been experiencing problems in recent months. Daily hour-long blackouts have become routine across much of the island.

On Wednesday, the island restored power to part of its consumers in most regions, the state-owned energy supplier said, after blackouts affected 11 million people. The capital, Havana, was hit by the hurricane’s tail as it left Cuba and entered the Gulf of Mexico toward Florida — the landscape on the city’s streets was a tangle of fallen trees, garbage, and electrical and telephone wiring.

At least five buildings have completely collapsed in the city, according to official reports, and 68 have been partially destroyed. More than 16,000 people were relocated to shelters. Authorities did not give an estimate of when power would be fully restored in the capital.

The prospect of prolonged blackouts in the stuffy city — where mosquitoes are plentiful and temperatures too hot to sleep at night — has residents anxious. “We always run the risk of our food spoiling,” said Freddy Aguilera, who owns a small restaurant in Havana that is unable to open on Wednesday. “We don’t have a generator, we have no way of conserving our products.”

Shortages of food, fuel and medicine, acute even before the storm, left many Cubans wondering what to do, as most stores remained closed, repairing damage and waiting for light to return. “Look at the floodwater,” said Olga Gomez, who lives near Havana’s waterfront on a flood-prone avenue. “We have to see where we can find bread so our boys have something to eat.”

At least two people died in Cuba as a result of the hurricane, both in the province of Pinar del Rio. A woman died after a wall collapsed on her and a man died after his roof fell on him, according to state media.

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