09 September, Florida
After laying waste to several Caribbean islands, Hurricane Irma was barreling Saturday towards Florida, where some 5.6 million people faced orders to evacuate as the monster storm made landfall in Cuba.
Irma – which has killed at least 20 people and devastated thousands of homes in the Caribbean – made landfall late yesterday on the Camaguey Archipelago of Cuba as a maximum-strength Category 5 storm.
According to the US National Hurricane Center, the hurricane weakened slightly to a Category 4 hours later, swirling some 395 kilometers away from Miami and packing still powerful maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour.
In Cuba officials reported “significant damage” in parts of the island’s center without providing further details, but said there were not yet casualties. Authorities said more than a million people on the Caribbean’s largest island have evacuated as a precaution.
Irma is expected to strike the Florida Keys late today and tomorrow before moving inland, and many residents have joined a mass exodus amid increasingly dire alerts to leave.