Hurricane Ian has knocked out power across Cuba and destroyed some of the country’s most important tobacco farms after hitting the western tip of the island as a major hurricane.

UBA’s electric union said in a statement Tuesday that work is underway to gradually restore service to the country’s 11 million people at night. Power was initially cut off to about one million people in Cuba’s western provinces, but the entire grid later collapsed.

Ian targets a Cuba that is struggling with an economic crisis and has experienced repeated power outages in recent months. It lashed the western tip of the island as a Category 3 storm, devastating Pinar del Rio province, where much of the tobacco used for Cuba’s famous cigars is grown.


A plant farm is brought down by Hurricane Ian’s winds in Artemisa, Cuba (Ismael Francisco/AP)

Tens of thousands of people were evacuated and others fled the area ahead of Ian’s arrival, which caused flooding, damaged homes and blown down trees. Officials were still assessing the damage, though no casualties had been reported as of Tuesday night.

Ian’s winds damaged one of Cuba’s most important tobacco farms in La Rubina.

“It was apocalyptic, a real disaster,” said Hirochi Rubina, owner of the farm that bears his name and was made internationally famous by his grandfather.

Rubina, also the owner of Finca Rubina Cigar Producers, posted photos on social media of wooden and thatched roofs falling to the ground, greenhouses in ruins and overturned wagons.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel visited the affected area, state media said.

The city of Pinar del Rio was under the brunt of the storm for an hour and a half, Cuba’s Meteorological Institute said.

“It was scary for me to be in the typhoon, but we are alive here,” said Yosemi Palacios, a resident of Pinar del Rio, who asked authorities for a roof and a mattress.


The hurricane is expected to hit Tampa Bay in the next few days (Phelan M Ebenhack/AP)

Authorities set up 55 shelters, evacuated 50,000 people, and took measures to protect crops, particularly tobacco.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Cuba suffered “significant wind and storm surge impacts” as the hurricane hit with sustained winds of 125 mph (205 km/h).

Ian was expected to strengthen over the warm Gulf of Mexico, with sustained winds of 130 mph (209 km/h) approaching the southwest coast of Florida, where 2.5 million people were ordered to evacuate. was

As the storm’s center moved into the Gulf, scenes of devastation emerged in Cuba. Officials were still assessing the damage in its world-famous tobacco belt.

Local government station Tele Pinar reported heavy damage at the main hospital in the city of Pinar del Rio, tweeting images of collapsed roofs and downed trees. No casualties were reported.

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