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Ike leaves razed buildings, power outages in its wake

HAVANA, Cuba — Hurricane Ike's lethal 41-hour odyssey across Cuba might be over, but its stay will be long remembered. The storm left a destructive trail stretching hundreds of miles across the island.

Tuesday night, most of Cuba remained without electricity, at least four people were dead, dilapidated buildings in the colonial capital lay in ruins, and more than 1 million people forced from their homes by the storm began returning to see what, if anything, remained.

Heavy rains caused at least 16 partial building collapses in the capital, authorities said. More collapses are probable in the coming days as weakened buildings dry out.

Maylin Figueredo, 24, rode out Ike's passing with neighbors across the street from the tiny Old Havana apartment she shared with her 4-year-old son. The apartment, which was deemed unsafe by local authorities, was literally a concrete and wood box built beneath a cracked and unsteady staircase reinforced with wooden beams. Cracks crisscrossed her walls like roads on a map. "We're all scared," Figueredo said. "This place could come down any moment."

As Ike headed off toward the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday afternoon, recovery efforts had already begun in the hard-hit eastern and central provinces where the storm first struck Sunday night. Ike first made landfall in the coastal city of Baracoa, destroying 300 homes and damaging hundreds more.

Tuesday, government trucks delivered tons of cement, roofing and other building materials to the city, which was battered by waves five stories high. Parts of the province's southern coast remained underwater from surging seas and overflowing rivers.