As Cuban authorities work to restore power to the country’s 11 million people, Hurricane Ian has now strengthened to an ‘extremely dangerous’ Category 4 storm.

Hurricane Ian knocked out power in Cuba and devastated some important tobacco farms as it slammed into the western tip of the country on Tuesday.

Cuba’s electric union said it was working overnight to gradually restore power to the country’s 11 million people.

Ian was expected to strengthen over the warm Gulf of Mexico approaching the southwest coast of the US state of Florida.

A hurricane with sustained winds of 130 miles (210 kilometers) per hour was reported in the small town of San Juan y Martinez on Cuba’s southwest coast.

Authorities in Cuba’s Pinar del Rio province evacuated 50,000 people ahead of the storm. About 6,000 refugees were living in government shelters.

The hurricane left hundreds of thousands of people without power and swamped fishing villages in northern Florida. No casualties were reported till Tuesday night.

State media said 33,000 tons of tobacco in Pinar del Rio had been secured ahead of the storm. One of Cuba’s most important tobacco farms in La Robena was damaged by the wind.

Rain and wind lashed the capital, Havana, but the city was spared Ian’s impact.

“We almost lost the roof of our house. My daughter, my husband and I tied it with ropes to prevent it from blowing away,” street vendor Myelin Suarez told Reuters.

Florida braces because Ian has been upgraded to a Category 4 storm
The US National Hurricane Center said on Wednesday that Ian had strengthened to a Category 4 storm as it bore down on the state of Florida with sustained winds of 140 miles (225 kilometers) per hour.

The NHC issued an advisory stating that “Air Force Hurricane Hunters found that Ian had strengthened to a very dangerous Category 4 hurricane.”

As of 05:00 local time (09:00 UTC/GMT), mandatory evacuation orders were issued in dozens of coastal Florida counties, while voluntary evacuations were recommended in many areas, according to state emergency officials.


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