HAVANA (AP) — Cuban officials said they had begun to restore some power after Hurricane Ian knocked out electricity to the entire island while devastating some of the country’s most important tobacco farms when it hit the island’s western tip as a major storm.
At least two people were reported killed.
The Energy and Mines Ministry announced it had restored energy to three regions by activating two large power plants in Felton and Nuevitas and was working to get others back on line.
Lights started to flicker on in the capital, Havana, but much of the city and other parts of western Cuba remained without power in the wake of the major hurricane, which had advanced northward to Florida. It was the first time in memory — perhaps ever — that the whole island had lost power.
On Tuesday, Ian hit a Cuba that has been struggling with an economic crisis and has faced frequent power outages in recent months. It made landfall as a Category 3 storm on the island’s western end, devastating Pinar del Río province, where much of the tobacco used for Cuba’s iconic cigars is grown.
Tens of thousands of people were evacuated and others fled the area ahead of the arrival of Ian, which caused flooding, damaged houses and toppled trees. State media reported two deaths in the province: a woman killed by a falling wall and another by a collapsed roof.
YOKOSUKA, Japan (AP) — Standing on the deck of an American destroyer at a naval base, Vice President Kamala Harris directly challenged China by accusing it of “disturbing behavior” and “provocations” around Taiwan.
Harris said the United States would in response “deepen our unofficial ties” to the disputed island that China views as part of its territory.
The escalating tensions over Taiwan have raised the potential for conflict in an already volatile corner of the globe. But the core of U.S. plans for deterring — or, if necessary, confronting — China depends on alliances that are under strain. South Korea and Japan, which Harris described as the “linchpin” and “cornerstone” of American strategy in Asia, remain at odds with each other, divided by the legacy of World War II despite renewed efforts at reconciliation.
Japan colonized the Korean Peninsula years before the conflict began, sending many people into forced labor and women into sexual slavery. Decades later, tensions continue to spill out of the history books and into debates over trade, technology and intelligence sharing.
Although Japan and South Korea are taking steps to repair their relationship, progress remains uncertain. Leaders in both countries face political challenges at home that could make it harder for them to reach compromises abroad, and the disputes are deeply rooted in questions about national honor and responsibility for some of Asia’s worst atrocities.
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia was poised to formally annex parts of Ukraine where occupied areas held a Kremlin-orchestrated “referendum” — denounced by Kyiv and the West as illegal and rigged — on living under Moscow’s rule.
Armed troops had gone door-to-door with election officials to collect ballots in five days of voting. The results were widely ridiculed as implausible and characterized as a land grab by an increasingly cornered Russian leadership following embarrassing military losses in Ukraine.
Moscow-installed administrations in the four regions of southern and eastern Ukraine claimed Tuesday night that residents had voted to join Russia.
“Forcing people in these territories to fill out some papers at the barrel of a gun is yet another Russian crime in the course of its aggression against Ukraine,” Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said, adding that the balloting was “a propaganda show” and “null and worthless.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urged the European Union’s 27 member countries to slap more sanctions on Russian officials and trade over the “sham referendums.” She labeled the ballots “an illegal attempt to grab land and change international borders by force.”
The ballot was “falsified” and the outcome “implausibly claimed” that residents had agreed to rule from Moscow, the Washington-based think tank Institute for the Study of War said.
Pro-Russia officials in Ukraine’s Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions said they would ask Russian President Vladimir Putin to incorporate their provinces into Russia. Separatist leaders Leonid Pasechnik in Luhansk and Denis Pushilin in Donetsk said they were leaving for Moscow to settle the annexation formalities.