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article imageSeven killed in storm Alberto flooding in Cuba

By AFP     Jun 2, 2018 in Environment

Heavy flooding caused by Subtropical Storm Alberto killed seven people when it struck Cuba, Civil Defense officials said on Saturday.

Two people are also missing after the storm slammed the island earlier in the week, officials said in a statement published in state-run local media.

The fatalities, all men between the ages of 26 and 77, drowned in different parts of central and eastern Cuba, the regions hardest-hit by Alberto.

The two missing men are aged 18 and 51, Civil Defense officials said.

The deaths are "all due to reckless behavior," Interior Minister Julio Cesar Gandarilla said Tuesday at a meeting led by President Miguel Diaz-Canel to evaluate the storm damage and its toll, which at that time was four dead.

More than 40,000 people were evacuated in four central provinces due to the heavy rain, state media reported.

The Cienfuegos oil refinery, a linchpin of Cuba's economy, was forced to temporarily close down due to flooding.

About 12,000 cubic meters (nearly 16,000 cubic yards) of oily water spilled into the bay of that central-southern Cuban city. Around-the-clock cleanup operations could cost up to $1 million, a manager at the site told local TV news.

Subtropical Storm Alberto formed in the western Caribbean on May 25, giving an early kickoff to the Atlantic hurricane season one week ahead of schedule.

Last year's Hurricane Irma killed 10 people as it ripped across Cuba in September.

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