HAVANA, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- A Venezuelan army plane carrying 7.3 tons of humanitarian aid arrived in Havana on Tuesday, becoming the first foreign relief to arrive in Cuba after Hurricane Irma battered the island over the weekend.
The Chinese-made Y-8 plane touched down at Jose Marti International Airport with a message of solidarity from the people and government of Venezuela, Havana's main political and economic ally in the region.
The aid consists of mattresses, water and canned foods, with Caracas preparing more shipments to assist Cuba, which saw 10 people killed and widespread damage because of Irma.
The Venezuelan Minister for Women and Gender Equality, Blanca Eekhout, said her nation will assist Cuba in these "hard times" as a token of gratitude for the solidarity the island country has shared with Caracas over the years.
"Cuba has always been with Venezuela in the most difficult times and that is why we are permanently committed to its people and revolution," she said in Havana after arriving with the humanitarian cargo.
Venezuela also sent a similar shipment to Antigua and Barbuda, which also suffered heavy losses due to the hurricane.
Cuba's deputy minister of foreign trade, Roberto Lopez, highlighted Venezuela's willingness to help the island in this difficult situation and thanked Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for the aid.
"It is the first aid we receive from abroad and we reiterate our gratitude to the Venezuelan people. This reaffirms the bonds of brotherhood between the two nations," said Lopez.
The impact on the island's economy has not been assessed yet, but the storm left a path of destruction in tourism infrastructure, agriculture and housing.