Hurricane Paloma weakens over Cuba

November 10th, 2008 - 9:03 am ICT by IANS  

Miami, Nov 10 (IANS) Tropical Storm Paloma was downgraded to a depression with winds of 35 miles per hour as it was moving away from central Cuba overnight, the EFE news agency reported Monday.According to the US National Hurricane Centre, or NHC, the centre of the hurricane was located 15 miles south-southwest of Cuba’s eastern central city of the Camaguey, some 534 km southeast of capital Havana, and was moving just one mile per hour to the north Monday morning.

Paloma made landfall near Santa Cruz del Sur, a port in Cuba’s Camaguey province, as a Category 3 hurricane around 7:20 p.m. Saturday, the Miami-based centre said.

Santa Cruz del Sur, where 3,000 people were killed by a hurricane 76 years ago, was completely evacuated by the government.

Paloma has maximum sustained winds of about 110 kph, with higher gusts, the NHC said, adding that the storm is expected to continue weakening and degenerate into a weak low-pressure area by Monday.

However, a tropical storm warning is still in effect for the central Bahamas, including Cat Island, the Exumas, Long Island, Rum Cay, San Salvador, Acklins Island, Crooked Island and the Ragged Islands.

Since Friday, hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuated from several Cuban provinces, with the residents of entire coastal towns being moved inland.

Cuba is still trying to recover from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, which hit the island in the late summer, causing $8.65 billion in damage.

Hurricane Ike, which battered the island Sep 7-9, and Gustav, which hit western Cuba Aug 30, wiped out hundreds of thousands of hectares of farmland, damaged or destroyed 500,000 dwellings and caused extensive damage to infrastructure.

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