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    Tropical storm catches Cuba by surprise


    by ODN


    Tropical Storm Paula blasted through the Cuban capital with driving rains and high winds that toppled trees, flooded streets and left large swaths of the city without power.

    There were no reports yet of building collapses that usually plague Havana in stormy weather, nor of any injuries or deaths.

    The storm was skirting along the north central coast 70 miles east of Havana, near the beach resort of Varadero, and going east at 14 mph. It has now been downgraded to a tropical depression.

    The stormy weather, which lasted about two hours, caused minor flooding around the city and sent waves crashing over the Malecon, the city's famous seaside boulevard. Toppled trees and power lines blocked many streets.

    When night fell, much of Havana, a city of 2.2 million people, was in the dark due to widespread power outages.

    One resident of Havana said: "I was expecting something a little less aggressive. I mean, people were out in the streets, nobody warned us."