|Hurricane Sandy's location in the Caribbean, October 25, 2012. (NOAA satellite image)|
The Category 2 storm made landfall in Cuba in the wee hours of Thursday with maximum sustained winds of 175 kph (109 mph) and gusts of up to 190 kph (118 mph).
Sandy is blamed for one death each in Haiti and Jamaica, but no storm-related fatalities have been reported so far in Cuba, though the island's official media described the material damage as "terrible."
President Raul Castro plans to visit the affected region in the coming hours, state television said.
In the meantime, the head of state offered a "message of encouragement" to residents of Santiago, Cuba's second-most-populous province.
Hotels, schools, homes, shops and other buildings in Santiago were battered by the storm. Some structures collapsed and most of the province is without electricity or telephone service.
The head of the Communist Party in Santiago, Lazaro Exposito, called for "intense efforts to transform the bleak picture" and announced the impending arrival of military brigades to begin the cleanup.
"The destruction is enormous in Santiago de Cuba, many homes knocked down, there are hundreds; many trees on the ground, parks destroyed," pro-government blogger Yohandry Fontana said on Twitter.
In Holguin, the damage caused by Sandy was being likened to the devastation wrought in 2008 by Hurricane Ike.
Besides wrecked homes and downed power lines, the storm left substantial expanses of cultivated land under water, provincial authorities said.
Sandy was moving northward through the Bahamas late Thursday.
Read more: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2012/10/25/sandy-causes-terrible-damage-in-cuba/#ixzz2ALgHFpJo