Paloma was gentler than its two predecessors except in a few regions, including hard-hit Santa Cruz, which felt the full force of the storm’s Category Three 200-kilometer (125-mile) per hour winds late Saturday. “I’ve never seen anything so destructive in the 40 years I’ve been living here,” Sandra Salazar, a technician with Cuba’s telephone company, told AFP, describing the fury of the storm. At 2100 GMT, a weakened Paloma — now a tropical depression — was stalled some 15 miles (25 kilometers) south-southwest of Camaguey, drifting northward at around one mile (two kilometers) per hour. The storm’s winds late Sunday were about 35 miles (55 kilometers) per hour and forecasters from the US National Hurricane Center in Miami said Paloma was likely to weaken further. They were expecting it to become a weak low pressure system overnight. Authorities did not report any victims, in part thanks to the Communist island’s vaunted civil defense system. More than 500,000 Cubans were evacuated to central provinces. Some 3,000 foreign tourists were taking shelter on northern holiday islands in the region of Ciego de Avila, the Civil Defense said. The town of Santa Cruz found itself in Paloma’s crosshairs 76 years after another major…
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