Cuba braces for Hurricane Ivan

One of the worst storms ever to hit the Atlantic is moving in a west-northwest direction at 17 kilometres perhour, with maximum sustained winds of almost 240kph, according to Miami’s National Hurricane Centre.

It is classed as a strong Category Four storm on the Centre’s hurricane scale.

Ivan has crossed the Cayman Islands chain, between Jamaica and Cuba, after hitting Jamaica, where it carried off houses, uprooted trees and turned paved roads into raging rivers.

Long-range forecasts show Ivan was heading north over the Gulf of Mexico, eventually hitting the Florida panhandle and neighbouring states.

It has also killed people in Grenada, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Tobago.

Florida Governor Jeb Bush has extended a state of emergency over the entire southeastern state, which is still mopping up from the ravages wrought last week by Hurricane Frances and last month by Charley.

Mexico also ordered 2,500 people to evacuate to evacuate four islands, and issued an alert for the popular tourist area of Cancun on the Yucatan peninsula.
Cuban authorities have rushed to evacuate about two million people from their homes, shut down the railroad and ports and ready bomb shelters as refuges on the Caribbean’s most populous island nation.

A hurricane warning is in effect for Cuba from the western province of Pinar del Rio to Ciego de Avila, including the Isle of Youth.

That includes the Havana area of more than two million people, with a largely dilapidated housing stock.

Cuba, which is larger than Portugal and has a population of 11 million, is the Caribbean’s most populous island nation.

One month ago Hurricane Charley left five Cubans dead and an estimated one billion dollars in damage.

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