By JUAN O. TAMAYO
Herald Staff Writer
Hurricane Georges' rain and winds collapsed some 100 old houses in Havana
damaged more than 20,000 elsewhere in the already housing-strapped island,
Cuban officials reported Saturday.
Havana radio and television reported five people had died in the two-day
but said Civil Defense officials would not have an estimate on total nationwide
damages until next week.
Officials in Havana reported about 100 houses in the colonial-era heart
capital had suffered total or partial collapses but said there had been no reports of
The flooding from Georges' huge waves appeared to have been less serious
expected in coastal parts of the capital but worse than forecast along the southern
shores of Havana province, the officials said.
Havana's famed shoreside Malecon avenue remained closed to motor traffic
Saturday and rivers were still swollen in central Matanzas province.
A string of civil defense officials interviewed on radio and television
damages to housing totaling 1,000 houses destroyed or seriously damaged and
20,000 to 25,000 affected less seriously.
Three people were killed when they came into contact with live electricity
downed by the storm, and two others drowned, according to official reports.
U.S. citizens living in Havana said they were beginning to hear unconfirmed
of significant damages to sugar cane fields in central and eastern Cuba, the area
hardest hit by Georges' winds and rains.
Agriculture Minister Alfredo Jordan told Cuban television that there had
``major damages to the coffee, plantain and banana, tobacco, sugar cane, cacao
and vegetable crops in eastern Cuba.
Cuba's sugar industry, while working at record low levels in recent years,
the third-largest generator of hard currency income for the island, behind
remittances from exiles abroad and tourism.
While tobacco is not usually planted in eastern Cuba -- the heart of the
in the westernmost province of Pinar del Rio -- Cuban officials planted large
expanses in the east this year in an effort to capitalize on the worldwide cigar
Civil defense officials evacuated nearly half a million people during the
that the hurricane slogged through Cuba.
Copyright © 1998 The Miami Herald