A clear-up operation is under way in Cuba after a series of powerful waterspouts slammed into the country's south coast, injuring dozens of people and destroying several homes.

Waterspouts are tornadoes which move over water. They are often weak and fairly harmless, but sometimes they can be powerful and cause significant damage if they come onshore.

Witnesses in Playa Caimito, on the island's south, filmed the waterspouts as they formed off shore, with some people reporting seeing as many as seven churning columns of air.

The waterspouts then slammed on to the coast, hitting Playa Caimito where they destroyed 14 homes and damaged six more.

As the storm raged, 38 people were injured, six of them seriously.

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Resident Madelin Barban told the Reuters news agency that she had a narrow escape.

"My children and I were inside my home and thank God, my neighbour put my children under the bed. I was in the living room, with all the rubble on top of me. It was horrible."

Powerful thunderstorms are common in Cuba at this time of year. The day after the storms battered Playa Caimito, Cuba's capital Havana was also hit by damaging winds that were gusting up to 87 kilometres per hour.

Most storms hit the island during the rainy season, which runs from May to October. It is rare, however, for so many waterspouts to be reported at one time.

Additional reporting by Steff Gaulter.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies