Mass evacuation as Irma eyes Florida, batters Cuba

After laying waste to several Caribbean islands, Hurricane Irma was barrelling towards Florida, where some 5.6 million people faced orders to evacuate as the monster storm made landfall in Cuba

At least 20 people have died so far across the Caribbean. Pic/AFP
At least 20 people have died so far across the Caribbean. Pic/AFP

After laying waste to several Caribbean islands, Hurricane Irma was barrelling 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. The hurricane weakened slightly to a Category 4 hours later, swirling some 395 kilometres away from Miami and packing still powerful winds, according to the US National Hurricane Center.

In Cuba officials reported “significant damage” in parts of the island's center without providing further details. More than a million people on the Caribbean's largest island have evacuated as a precaution, authorities said.

Irma is expected to strike the Florida Keys today before moving inland, and many residents have joined a mass exodus amid increasingly dire alerts to leave.

 

Hospitals prepare for surge in births 
While many Miami hospitals are shutting down as Hurricane Irma bears down on Florida, some are offering shelter to their pregnant patients, bracing for the increase in births that often accompanies these large storms. Hospitals have plans in place to care for women with advanced or high-risk pregnancies.

5.6mn No. of residents ordered to evacuate
20.6mn No. of people living in Florida

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