Thomas Cook evacuates 570 holidaymakers from Cuba as Hurricane Matthew
Thomas Cook evacuated 570 guests from Cuba to Cayo Coco
Hurricane Matthew was expected to rip through the island
The fierce storm is now travelling north towards the Bahamas and Florida
By SADIE WHITELOCKS FOR MAILONLINE
PUBLISHED: 16:30 GMT, 5 October 2016 | UPDATED: 16:30 GMT, 5 October 2016
Thomas Cook successfully evacuated hundreds of holidaymakers in Cuba
after Hurricane Matthew ripped through the island with devastating effect.
The British operator transferred 570 guests to Cayo Coco - a tropical
island in the Jardines del Rey chain - after Holguin airport in the east
The fierce storm raged through Cuba on Tuesday, with torrential rain and
category-four winds (130-156mph) destroying dozens of homes in Cuba's
easternmost city, Baracoa.
With the hurricane now travelling north towards the Bahamas and Florida,
Thomas Cook says it is doing all it can to keep travellers safe and
up-to-date with the situation.
The travel company worked with the Cuban government to move its clients
from Cuba, which was put on high alert.
They were due to depart on flights scheduled on October 3 and 4 but now
these schedules have been put on hold.
An update on the Thomas Cook website reads: 'The safety of our customers
and employees is our top priority and we monitored the development of
Hurricane Matthew very closely as it moved towards south east Cuba and
the resort of Holguin.
'From the information we have currently the hurricane passed through
Holguin last night with only heavy rain, no loss of electricity or
water, and no damage within any of the hotels, and all customers are
safe and well.
'Although we will continue to assess the hotels as it may take time to
re-establish hotel staff levels, prepare rooms for guests and replenish
'Our resort staff remained with customers in the hotels throughout the
hurricane and are now speaking to customers and assisting with any
Yesterday it was reported Thomson also delayed two flights to Montego
Bay, Jamaica, as the storm ripped through the Caribbean, killing seven
people in Haiti.
Hurricane Matthew, the fiercest Caribbean storm in almost a decade,
powered toward the Bahamas and Florida early on Wednesday after
battering Haiti and Cuba with torrential rains and killing at least ten
The hurricane, which the United Nations said created the worst
humanitarian crisis to hit struggling Haiti since a devastating 2010
earthquake, whipped Cuba and Haiti with 140 mile-per-hour (230 kph)
winds on Tuesday, pummeling towns, farmland and resorts.
Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated from the storm, which
caused severe flooding and killed four people in the Dominican Republic
as well as at least six in Haiti, the two countries that share the
island of Hispaniola.
Matthew was a Category Four hurricane through Tuesday but was downgraded
to Category Three early on Wednesday, the Miami-based National Hurricane
Center (NHC) said.
The eye of the storm was about 115 miles (185 km) south of Long Island
in the Bahamas on Wednesday morning and it was expected to be very near
the east coast of Florida by Thursday evening, the NHC said.
Maximum sustained winds eased to around 115 mph (185 kph) by Wednesday
morning but the NHC said it was likely to strengthen again slightly in
the coming days.
It was difficult to assess the severity of the impact on Haiti because
Matthew knocked out communications in many of the worst-affected areas,
including the main bridge that links much of the country to the
There was particular concern about Haiti as tens of thousands of people
are still living in tents and makeshift dwellings due to the 2010
earthquake, which killed more than 200,000 people.
Authorities said on Wednesday two people in Haiti were crushed by trees
and two were swept away by swollen rivers.
Mourad Wahba, the U.N. secretary-general's deputy special representative
for Haiti, said much of the population had been displaced by Matthew and
at least 10,000 were in shelter.
'Haiti is facing the largest humanitarian event witnessed since the
earthquake six years ago,' he said.
Heifer International, a nonprofit organization working with farming
families in Haiti, said farmland and businesses caught in Matthew's path
had been devastated.
The U.S. government said it was ready to help the afflicted and about
300 U.S. Marines set off on the USS Mesa Verde to provide disaster
relief in Haiti, the Marines said in a tweet.
There were no immediate reports in Cuba of deaths, casualties or major
Cuba's government has traditionally made extensive efforts to cope with
hurricanes and authorities spent days organizing volunteers to get
residents to safety and secure property.
Matthew thrashed the tourist town of Baracoa in the province of
Guantanamo, passing close to the disputed U.S. Naval base and military
prison. It was on track to mow over the central and northwestern
Bahamas, the NHC forecasts showed.
Santiago de Cuba, the second largest city, which lies in the southeast
of Cuba, was not badly hit, state media said.
Officials in the Bahamas urged residents to evacuate to higher ground
and the Ministry for Grand Bahama said on Facebook that government
offices in New Providence and Grand Bahama had been closed until further
Hurricane and tropical storm warnings were extended along the east coast
of Florida as the storm moved north.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley on Tuesday declared a state of
emergency, and ordered the evacuation of more than one million people
from Wednesday afternoon.
Tropical storm or hurricane conditions could affect parts of Georgia,
South Carolina, and North Carolina later this week, even if the center
of Matthew remained offshore, the NHC said.
Source: Thomas Cook evacuates 570 holidaymakers from Cuba as Hurricane
Matthew flattens homes | Daily Mail Online -