Hurricane Ian has torn into western Cuba as a Category 3 storm, knocking out power lines in the country of 11.3 million people.
Cuba’s electrical grid collapsed late on Tuesday, local officials said, plunging the entire country into darkness shortly after the hurricane ploughed through the western end of the island, leaving a path of destruction in its wake.
Only a few people with gasoline-powered generators had access to electricity on the island. Others had to make do with flashlights or candles at home and lit their way with cell phones as they walked the streets.
In the western city of Pinar del Rio, video footage showed downed power lines, flooded streets and a scattering of damaged rooftops.
At the time of impact, the United States-based National Hurricane Center reported Ian’s maximum wind speeds at 205km (125 miles) per hour.
At least two people died in Pinar del Rio province, according to Cuban state media.
Cuba’s electrical grid – decades old and in desperate need of modernisation – has been faltering for months with blackouts an everyday event across much of the island.
But officials said the storm had proven to be too much for the system, provoking a failure that shut off the lights for the island.
Ian has intensified into an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm with top winds of 220km/h (140 mph) as it approaches Florida.