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At least 10 dead in Cuba from Irma: official
by Staff Writers
Havana (AFP) Sept 11, 2017

The sun shines in Bonita Springs, exposing Irma's destructive work
Bonita Springs, United States (AFP) Sept 11, 2017 - As in many other Florida communities, the sun rose over Bonita Springs Monday on glittering pools of water and debris left by Irma as residents tried to find their way home.

From the beach to the residential areas of this normally tranquil Gulf Coast city, vast areas are under water, and the entire region is without power.

Sam Parish surveys the watery obstacles standing between him and his house.

"I'd like to walk through there, but it looks like it's three feet (one meter) deep, at least," he says. "And my boots are only a foot deep and I don't like cold water, which explains why I live here."

Many other inhabitants of Bonita Springs, population 50,000, are trying to get home but finding it tricky.

When it's not floodwaters, it's uprooted trees and torn-away branches that have made roads impassable.

Further on, poles with electricity lines lay in the sun, blown over by the fury of 185 kilometer (115 mile) an hour winds.

On the edge of an inundated neighborhood, firefighters in an all-terrain vehicle unload a motorized dinghy and launch it into the debris-strewn, lake-like streets.

"They are counting to see who is back there, who needs help and what we can do to help them," said Fire Lieutenant Don Brazelton.

In the distance, two residents can be seen making their way on foot through the liquid expanse, beating the murky water with a stick to frighten off any alligators.

More than 24 hours after Irma's passage, gas stations are still closed. Finding fuel is a chore, but it hasn't dampened the spirit of solidarity among Bonita Springs' returning inhabitants.

Some cars venture through streets with water up to their bumpers. Other residents are finding more suitable transportation in dinghies and canoes.

Irma's rampage across northern Cuban took the lives of 10 people, officials said Monday as the scope of the disaster came more fully into view.

President Raul Castro said Cubans face "hard days" with homes built with effort torn down in just a few hours by the storm, which struck the island late Friday as a top intensity Category Five hurricane.

"It is not time to mourn, but to rebuild what the winds of Hurricane Irma have tried to wipe out," Castro said in comments published in the official newspaper Granma.

Cuba's civil defense organization reported that 10 people were killed, with causes of death including electrocution, building collapse and a balcony falling onto a bus.

Castro said Irma had caused "severe damage to the country" but he added that the scale of the destruction had yet to be fully established because of its country's size.

Havana was hammered by winds up to 150 kilometers (93 miles) per hour, with an unprecedented storm surge swamping parts of the capital and leaving many people waist-deep in water.

Some of the victims had ignored instructions to evacuate, the civil defense authority said.

Seven of the deaths occurred in the capital.

A fourth floor balcony in a dilapidated neighborhood of Havana collapsed on a passing bus, killing two women inside.

A 71-year-old man was electrocuted by a downed power line while trying to move his TV antenna, and another man of 77 was crushed by a falling electricity pole.

In the center if the city, two men were killed when the roof of a house collapsed and the body of an 89-year-old woman was found floating in water inside her house, near Havana's iconic seaside Malecon esplanade.

The other victims died in the western province of Matanzas, Ciego Avila in the center and Camaguey in the east as the storm "seriously" damaged the center of the island with winds up to 256 kilometers (159 miles) per hour, according to Cuban state media.

Authorities said they evacuated more than a million people overall as a precaution.

The hurricane killed at least 25 people earlier on its path across the Caribbean.

Irma weakened early Monday to a tropical storm as it continued on a northward path through Florida.

After Irma, fear and looting grip tense St Martin
Marigot (AFP) Sept 11, 2017
"For pity's sake, do something," Estelle Kalton begs the police. "They're looting the shops." A crime wave on the Franco-Dutch Caribbean holiday island of St Martin, five days after hurricane Irma ripped through, has everyone on edge. It is only by making a scene on the steps of a makeshift security centre set up in Marigot, the main town on the French side of the island, that Kalton is ... read more

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