CUBA STANDARD — The eye of a slightly weakened Hurricane Matthew is headed straight for the city of Baracoa, in the province of Guantánamo at the eastern tip of the island.
More than 31,000 people in the city have been accommodated in 62 shelters and safer buildings, according to official website Cubadebate.
Tourists in the area, including 15 in private bed-and-breakfasts, have all been concentrated in the Hotel Porto Santo.
More than 60 tons of recently harvested cacao and 35 tons of coffee, as well as cattle have been moved to safer locations. Crop houses and irrigation systems have been dismantled, and a gravity water system in the area has been shut off, for security reasons.
Some 179,000 people have been evacuated from low-lying and other endangered areas throughout the province of Guantánamo.
According to the Cuban meteorological service, as of 1 pm EST Matthew was 155 kilometers southeast of the city of Guantánamo. The storm, weakened somewhat by the mountains of Haiti and approaching at 15 km/h, is expected to make landfall between Guantánamo Bay and the eastern tip of the island between 5 and 6 pm, and leave the island between 11 pm and midnight between the nickel mining center of Moa and the city of Banes on the northeastern coast in the province of Holguín.
The center is expected to pass over Punta de Maisí and the city of Baracoa, with damage expected from wind, sea flooding, and heavy rain.
At least four people have been killed in the Dominican Republic in a landslide. Little information is available about Haiti, which bore the brunt of the storm.
Raúl Castro toured the preparations for the storm in Santiago de Cuba and Guantánamo. Hurricane Sandy, which was underestimated in its severity during preparations, killed 11 people in eastern Cuba in 2012, an unusually high number of casualties for Cuba.