HAVANA —January 28, 2019— A tornado and pounding rains smashed into the eastern part of Cuba’s capital overnight, toppling trees, bending power poles and flinging shards of metal roofing through the air as the storm cut a path of destruction across eastern Habana.
Power was cut to many areas and President Miguel Diaz-Canel said Monday at least three people were killed and 172 hurt.
Julio Menendez, a 33-year-old restaurant worker said Havana’s 10th of October borough “looks like a horror movie.”
“From one moment to the next, we heard a noise like an airplane falling out of the sky. The first thing I did was go hug my daughters,” who are 9 and 12, he said.
Driver Oster Rodriguez said that amid a fierce storm, what looked like a thick, swirling cloud touched down in the central plaza of the Reparto Modelo neighborhood “like a fireball.” He saw a bus blown over, though he said the driver escaped unharmed.
The windows in the seven-story Daughters of Galicia Hospital had been sucked out of their frames by the wind, leaving curtains flapping in the breeze, and all the patients, new and expectant mothers, had to be evacuated. In the streets, a palm tree more than 30 feet (9 meters) tall had crushed a pre-revolutionary American car.
Photos posted on Twitter by Havana residents showed cars crushed by fallen light posts and cars trapped in floodwaters around the city.
The neighborhoods of Regla and 10 de Octubre and the town of San Miguel de Padron had been affected by the tornado.
Leanys Calvo, a restaurant cook in the 10th of October borough, said she was working Sunday night despite heavy rain and wind when she heard a rumbling noise outside and looked out to see what appeared to be a tornado touching down.
“It was something that touched down, and then took off again. It was like a tower,” she said, describing it as displaying colors of red and green. “It was here for two-three seconds, nothing more. They were the most frightening seconds of my life.”