The nightly news had started as usual on Cuban state television when suddenly something changed.

President Raul Castro appeared, seated before a desk in military uniform and delivered somber news: His brother Fidel Castro had died, nearly 58 years after leading a rebel army to a victory that led to one of the globe's most durable socialist states.

The president said his brother's remains would be cremated on Saturday and news about tributes would follow.

He closed with his brother's decades-old slogan: "Toward victory, always."

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2:45 a.m.

The death of Cuba's Fidel Castro has caught many people in Havana by surprise in the wee hours of the morning.

Mariela Alonso is a 45-year-old doctor. She calls the retired Cuban leader "the guide for our people."

In her words: "There will be no one else like him. We will feel his physical absence."

Mechanic Celestino Acosta was sitting on a porch in the capital's central neighborhood of Vedado.

He called the news of Castro's death "a painful blow for everyone."

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