Irma pummels Bahamas and Cuba on its track toward Florida
Hurricane Irma menaced Cuba and the Bahamas on Friday as it drove toward Florida after lashing the Caribbean with devastatingly high winds, killing 21 people and leaving catastrophic destruction in its wake, APA reports quoting Reuters.
As Irma, one of the most powerful Atlantic storms in a century, bore down on Florida, Governor Rick Scott issued a stark warning for residents to get out if they were in evacuation zones.
“We are running out of time. If you are in an evacuation zone, you need to go now. This is a catastrophic storm like our state has never seen,” Scott told reporters, adding the storm’s effects would be felt from coast to coast.
U.S. President Donald Trump said in a videotaped statement that Irma was “a storm of absolutely historic destructive potential,” and called on people to heed recommendations from government officials and law enforcement.
Irma was about 270 miles (435 km) east of Caibarien on Cuba’s central-north coast, and 405 miles (655 km) southeast of Miami, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in an advisory at 11 a.m EDT (1500 GMT) on Friday. Hurricane conditions were spreading westward over parts of Cuba and the central Bahamas.
The storm pummeled the Turks and Caicos Islands after saturating the northern edges of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
The “extremely dangerous” storm was downgraded from a rare Category 5, the top of the scale of hurricane intensity, to a Category 4 early Friday but it was still carrying winds as strong as 150 miles per hour (240 km per hour), the NHC said.
Irma was forecast to bring dangerous storm surges of up to 20 feet (6 meters) to the southeastern and central Bahamas, and up to 10 feet (3 meters) on parts of Cuba’s northern coast.
The storm was predicted to slam southern Florida on Sunday.
Cuba, where the Communist government has traditionally made rigorous preparations when the island is threatened by storms, was at a near standstill as Irma began to drive up the northern coast from east to west offshore.
Schools and most businesses were closed, hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated, and train, bus and domestic air services around the island were canceled. Airports were closing to international flights as conditions warranted.
Irma was forecast to move closer to land as it approached the center of Cuba later in the day and on Saturday, when it could seriously damage resorts on vulnerable keys. Tourists, and even the dolphins that entertain them, were evacuated. The storm was then predicted to veer north, sparing western Cuba and Havana.
In the Cuban fishing town of Caibarien, residents secured their roofs and moved belongings from low-lying coastal areas to houses higher up inland as the skies clouded over. Most said they were worried but well prepared.
Esteban Reyes, 65, was pushing his bicycle taxi laden with a mattress, iron and DVD player. “We are used to storms but I‘m still a bit scared. But the government has taught us to be prepared and help one another,” he said.
Related news releases
- 20.06.2018US withdraws from UN Human Rights Council
- 19.06.2018US, Russian top diplomats discuss Syria over phone
- 19.06.2018Trump orders creation of US 'Space Force'
- 17.06.2018Argentina to replace energy and production ministers
- 16.06.2018At least 17 dead in Venezuelan nightclub after tear gas blast
- 16.06.2018Kushner, Haley hold talks with UN chief on humanitarian needs in Gaza
- 16.06.2018U.S. warns Americans of terrorism threat at World Cup in Russia
- 16.06.2018Trump supports Republican immigration bills in U.S. House: White House
- 16.06.2018U.S. judge sends ex-Trump campaign head Manafort to jail pre-trial
- 16.06.2018Trump sets tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods; Beijing strikes back
- 15.06.2018Trump tells G7 leaders that Crimea is Russian
- 15.06.2018Pompeo says North Korea sanctions to remain until complete denuclearisation
- 15.06.2018UN calls for vital port of Hudaydah to stay open
- 15.06.2018Nicaragua president's foes stage nationwide strike
- 15.06.2018DoD Chief Mattis Discusses With S Korean Counterpart Results of Singapore Summit
- 15.06.2018US forces conduct airstrike in Libya, manage to kill one terrorist
- 14.06.2018Facebook's chief of communications, policy to step down
- 14.06.2018Norwegian politicians nominate Donald Trump for Nobel Peace Prize
- 14.06.2018UN votes to condemn Israel's 'excessive force' against Gaza Protests
- 14.06.2018Top White House officials planning to quit
- 14.06.2018Volcanic ash forces Guatemala airport to suspend operations
- 14.06.2018Trump says summit removed North Korean nuclear threat
- 14.06.2018Antarctic thaw quickens, trillions of tonnes of ice raise sea levels
- 13.06.2018Trump, Iran spar over oil prices ahead of OPEC meeting
- 13.06.2018Trump says no war games while North Korea negotiates in good faith
- 13.06.2018New US sanctions will have no effect - Russia’s Foreign Ministry
- 13.06.2018Kim Jong-un, Donald Trump accept each other's visit invitations
- 12.06.2018UN Sec Gen: implementing agreements by US, North Korean leaders requires patience
- 12.06.2018US must sustain maximum economic pressure on Pyongyang - House Speaker
- 12.06.2018Trump top economic adviser suffers heart attack moments before Trump-Kim Summit
- 12.06.2018US sanctions new Russian entities over cyberattacks
- 12.06.2018US extradites former Panamanian president
- 11.06.2018Guterres: UN ready to play verification role in N Korea denuclearization process
- 10.06.2018Mexican parliamentary candidate shot dead after debates
- 10.06.2018G7 nations release joint communique
- 09.06.2018Any agreement with North Korea will be 'spur of the moment': Trump
- 09.06.2018Trump demands end to 'unfair' trade after G7 summit
- 09.06.2018U.S., EU take small step on trade, but no breakthrough at G7 summit
- 09.06.2018U.N. Security Council elects five members for two-year term
- 09.06.2018Muhammad Ali family lawyer to Trump: thanks, but no pardon needed
- 09.09.2017U.S. defense rally may stall even as North Korea tensions flare
- 09.09.2017At least 58 die in Mexico's strongest quake in 85 years
- 09.09.2017Mexico's strongest quake in 85 years kills dozens in the poor south
- 08.09.2017Hurricane Irma may cut power to over nine million people in Florida
- 08.09.2017At least 5 dead as magnitude-8.1 earthquake rocks southern Mexico
- 08.09.2017Miami terminal shut down after police-involved shooting