HAVANA – Cuban President Raul Castro traveled to Santiago de Cuba, on the eastern part of the island, to personally supervise preparations for the arrival of Hurricane Matthew, a Category 4 cyclone with maximum sustained winds of around 240kph, state television reported late Saturday.
Castro arrived Saturday in the city, currently on cyclone alert, accompanied by ministers of Transport, Energy and Mines, Construction, Communications, Agriculture and Domestic Trade, and other senior officials.
The visit will serve to directly guide, assist and directly monitor compliance with measures taken to prepare for the hurricane and other natural phenomena, the broadcaster said.
During a meeting with city authorities, Castro stressed the importance of evacuation, delivering food and protection of material resources, with the main priority being preventing loss of lives and minimizing damage.
Cuban authorities also issued a cyclone alert on the eastern coast of the island from Camaguey province down to Guantanamo.
Measures include the protection of facilities and houses, safeguarding boats, ensuring a drinking water supply and selling non-perishable food items to the public.
The powerful hurricane, which fell to Category 4 after reaching the maximum Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale on Friday, has become stationary in the Caribbean Sea, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Matthew, the fifth hurricane this season in the Atlantic, is expected to slowly move towards the northwest in the next few hours, according to the meteorological center.
The cyclone is expected to make landfall on the island between Monday and Tuesday.