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Hurricane Ike rips into Havana's World Heritage Site

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Hurricane Ike has battered historic buildings in parts of Old Havana, a World Heritage Site in Cuba’s capital.

The city boasts an array of Baroque buildings, which are now under serious threat after the tropical storm caused havoc in the island unleashing winds of up to 220kph.

Architect Cezary Bednarski, who documented Cuba’s architecture for a book he is writing, said the storms were destroying ‘one of the most beautiful cities in the world’.

He said: ‘Havana has some of the best-maintained and impressive selections of colonial architecture in the world.

‘But it also has a magnificent collection of 20th-century architecture. There were two or three architects working from the 1930s to the 1950s who would have been uttered in the same breath as Mies van der Rohe if not for the revolution. These buildings are in serious dangers from the conditions.'

Raida Mara Suarez Portal, director of cultural heritage of the Office of the City Historian of Havana, said during the storm: ‘The piercing wind is whistling right over our heads and the rain is incredible. There’s glass breaking all around us and things are hitting the walls.’

Speaking to the Independent she added: ‘We’ve just heard news of the first buildings collapsing near Casa Humboldt, one of the most important museums in the city.’

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