PORT-AU-PRINCE – Hurricane Sandy caused at least 28 deaths in the Caribbean when it carved a destructive path through eastern Cuba.
In Cuba, emergency management officials said Thursday night that 11 people were killed, including a four-month-old baby. Nine of the victims lived in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba and two in the easternmost province of Guantanamo.
Sandy made landfall on the island in the wee hours of Thursday as a Category 2 storm, lashing the eastern part of the country for five hours with torrential rains and maximum sustained winds of 175 kilometers (109 miles) per hour.
The hurricane especially battered the provinces of Santiago de Cuba and Holguin, where the official media described the material damage as “terrible.”
Reports from local media, journalists and bloggers indicated that in Santiago de Cuba the hurricane triggered mudslides, shattered windows in tall buildings and stores and caused other damage.
Meanwhile, emergency management officials in Haiti confirmed Friday the deaths of 16 people and said that 1,372 houses were destroyed in the destitute country’s southern regions, especially in coastal areas, while 5,665 people had to be relocated to provisional shelters.
Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe announced Thursday that the government would spend $5 million over the next 48 hours to tackle emergencies caused by rains and flooding associated with the hurricane.
In the neighboring Dominican Republic, 12,581 people were displaced and 1,149 homes affected by the torrential rains. The hurricane also caused power outages and forced schools to be closed throughout most of the country.
Meanwhile, one person was reported dead in Jamaica, where torrential rains associated with the hurricane triggered mudslides.
After battering Cuba, Sandy continued north and pummeled the Bahamas early Friday.
In its latest public advisory at 11:00 a.m. Friday, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said Sandy was presently a Category 1 Hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 80 miles per hour.
It said the hurricane will move away from the northwestern Bahamas Friday night.
Sandy now poses a threat to the U.S. East Coast. EFE