Hurricane Ike batters historic Old Havana
Wednesday 10 September 2008
Hurricane Ike was battering the Cuban capital, Havana, yesterday, damaging historic buildings and forcing tens of thousands of people to flee.
Ike, the fourth severe tropical storm to hit the Caribbean over the past few weeks, first made landfall in the far east of the island as a Category 3 storm on Sunday night. It has crawled westward across the island at about 15mph, with an internal windspeed of up to 135mph, resulting in a slow and violent assault upon Cuba. Tens of thousands of people have been moved from areas in immediate danger, and at least four people have been killed.
"The piercing wind is whistling right over our heads and the rain is incredible. There's glass breaking around us and things are hitting the walls", Raida Mara Suarez Portal, director of cultural heritage of the Office of the City Historian of Havana, said.
Sheltering in her office in the Palace of the Captain-Generals, one of the most splendid baroque buildings in Old Havana and a world heritage site, Ms Suarez Portal provided a grim email account of the experience of being in the heart of a hurricane: "We are still at our posts. We lost the plywood protecting the 18th-century glass of the terrace at 3.30am.
"We have about 200 people from houses nearby sheltering here, with about 150 people trying to keep the doors and windows shut. The people are very hungry having been here for hours and we're trying to keep them quiet. We've just heard news of the first buildings collapsing near Casa Humboldt, one of the most important museums in the city."
Transport, electricity and gas were cut off by the authorities at 2am, but, she wrote: "Luckily our electricity is brought in underground and can't be cut off. So far the sea hasn't reached us".
Old Havana is one of the most visited sites in the Caribbean, attracting thousands of British tourists annually. "It is heartbreaking that so many years of painstaking restoration work may be undone in the space of a few hours" says Juliet Barclay, author of Havana: Portrait of a City.
Those locked down inside the Palace of the Captain-Generals have been unable to leave the building due to the extreme winds, lashing rain and the threat of electrocution from broken cabling thrashing across the square in front.
- 1 Rihanna 'nude photos' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
- 2 Frank Lampard equalises for Manchester City against Chelsea: how Twitter reacted
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 4 Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned PR disaster
Rihanna 'nude photos' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
Jennifer Lawrence leaked 4Chan sex video branded 'fake' by forum users
Gabrielle Union contacts FBI over nude 4Chan pictures leaked by 'vultures'
Jennifer Lawrence 'naked sex video' will be leaked next, threatens 4Chan celebrity photo hacker
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
Negotiable: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary PE Teacher (maternity cover) f...
£23000 - £33000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: English Intervention Teac...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Leeds: Teacher of Citizenship and REMaternity L...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary English Teacher for a academy ...