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Tropical storm Elsa hits Cuba

The storm has its centre about 216 m southeast of Cabo Cruz in the eastern province of Granma

IANS | Havana |

Tropical storm Elsa has hit the eastern part of Cuba, bringing with it heavy rains and winds.

The Institute of Meteorology (Insmet) reported on Sunday that the province of Guantanamo, in the extreme east of Cuba, was experiencing heavy rainfall and gusts of wind, while in nearby Santiago de Cuba, torrential downpours were also reported.

In Holguin, a northeastern province, some 78,000 people had been evacuated ahead of the storm.

“The rains will be strong and intense in some locations, mainly in mountainous areas and on the southern coast,” warned Insmet.

The storm, which is moving at 20 km per hour with winds of 100 km per hour, has its centre about 216 m southeast of Cabo Cruz in the eastern province of Granma.

The Civil Defense decreed an alarm for 11 of the 15 provinces of Cuba, announcing measures to reduce the risks of the impact of the storm.

The storm, which had reached sustained winds of 120 km per hour to be considered a Category 1 hurricane, weakened slightly on the morning of July 3 and became a tropical storm.

Meanwhile, a tropical storm warning is also in effect for portions of southern Haiti, Jamaica, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

Elsa is the first hurricane of the season in the Caribbean, which runs from June 1 to November 30, although tropical storms Ana, Bill, Claudette and Danny previously formed in the area.

It is ultimately heading for the Florida Straits and was expected to move near or over portions of the US state’s west coast on Tuesday, federal forecasters said.

Elsa’s fringe impacts, like gusty winds and outer rain bands, could near southern Florida late Sunday and into Monday.