HAVANA – Nearly 5,000 people are still displaced in Havana three days after a powerful tornado took the Cuban capital by surprise, killing four people, injuring 195 others and damaging more than 1,900 homes.
About 4,780 of the displaced people are staying with relatives and 164 are in shelters, according to official figures published Wednesday in Communist Party daily Granma.
More than 70 injured people are still receiving treatment in capital hospitals, with four of them listed in serious but stable condition.
According to initial reports, although the initial tally was 1,238 homes damaged by the tornado, which on Sunday brought winds of up to 300 km/h (186 mph) to five districts of the Cuban capital, but the count has risen now to more than 1,900 houses.
The loss of these buildings, many of which were good condition before the tornado hit, highlights the delicate housing situation in Cuba, where there is a deficit of almost 1 million units.
Three days after the tornado, the first to strike Havana in 80 years, the clearing away of rubble, cars and poles littering the streets continues with the help of hundreds of soldiers deployed to aid in the monumental task.
Dozens of volunteers are also assisting residents trying to salvage bricks and pieces of wood that can be used in reconstructing their homes.
More than 136,000 people remain without electricity, down from nearly 500,000 who were left without service on Sunday.
About 22,500 Havana residents received water in tankers due to ruptures in pipes.
President Miguel Diaz-Canel has called for accelerated government efforts to ensure that housing is made available and he asked officials responsible for finding solutions in the wake of the disaster to handle the matter with “sensitivity.”
“An organized society, a planned economy, a socialist government, will always have reserves so that no one is left homeless,” Diaz-Canel wrote Wednesday on Twitter.
On social media, while Cubans both here and abroad are praising the state’s response to the tragedy, others harshly criticized the decision to hold, as planned, the traditional huge parade to honor independence hero Jose Marti on the day after the catastrophe.