Hurricane Irma weakened slightly on Saturday as it battered Cuba's northern coast while millions of Florida residents were told to evacuate after the storm killed 21 people in the eastern Caribbean and left devastation in its wake.
Downgraded as a Category 4 storm, Irma moved along the Camaguey Archipelago with 155 mph (250 kph) winds early on Saturday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. It has shifted between the Category 4 and Category 5 classification, which is used for the most powerful storms.
Irma, one of the fiercest Atlantic storms in a century, was expected to hit Florida early on Sunday, causing major damage due to high winds and flooding to the fourth-largest U.S. state by population.
The scenes of destruction along Cuba's north central coast were similar to those seen in other Caribbean islands over the last week as Irma barreled in for a direct hit at Ciego de Avila province around midnight.
Choppy seas, grey skies, sheets of rain, bending palm trees, huge waves crashing over sea walls and downed power lines filled state-run television's evening news bulletin.