Hundreds of Rohingya cross into Bangladesh, fleeing unrest in Myanmar

A Rohingya woman and her son cry after being caught by Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) while illegally crossing at a border check point. (Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain)
Updated 22 November 2016
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Hundreds of Rohingya cross into Bangladesh, fleeing unrest in Myanmar

DHAKA: Hundreds of Rohingya have arrived in Bangladesh after fleeing violence in neighboring Myanmar, community leaders said Tuesday, but border guards have pushed back hundreds more despite a United Nations plea to let them in.
The UN says up to 30,000 Rohingya have been displaced by violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, where dozens of people have been killed in clashes with the military, and has urged Dhaka to open its border to them.
Instead the Bangladesh government, under pressure from local communities to limit the number of migrants, has intensified patrols along the 237-kilometer (147-mile) border to prevent a large-scale influx.
But Rohingya leaders told AFP an estimated 1,000 have still managed to get in over the last week.
Most are hiding out in camps for the 32,000 legal refugees already living in southeast Bangladesh, fearing repatriation if they are found by the authorities.
Among them is Mohammad Amin, 17, who said he and 15 others people fled their homes in Rakhine five days ago and reached Bangladesh by swimming across the Naf river that divides the two countries.
“The (Myanmar) army killed my father and elder brother. I hid on a hill and then walked and swam across the river, and took refuge at a mosque (in Bangladesh),” he told AFP by phone from Cox’s Bazar near the border.
“I don’t know what happened to my mother and sister.”
State media reports in Myanmar say security forces have killed almost 70 people and arrested some 400 since the lockdown began six weeks ago, but activists say the number could be far higher.
Myanmar troops have poured into a strip of land that is home to the stateless Muslim Rohingya minority since a series of attacks on police border posts last month.
Witnesses and activists have reported troops killing Rohingya, raping women and looting and burning their houses.
Commanders of the Border Guard Bangladesh said their troops had blocked nearly 300 Rohingya from crossing the border overnight, the highest number since the crisis began last month.
“We’re preventing them on the zero line, especially those who were trying to cross the barbed-wire fences erected by Myanmar,” said Imran Ullah Sarker.
He said many were sent back after they managed to sneak across unmanned parts of the border.
Bangladesh is also patrolling the Naf river, the commanders said.
“They told us that their houses were torched and they came here seeking safe shelter,” said one border guard official.


Parts of US Midwest deluged in historic deadly floods

Horses that were being boarded in Inglewood, Neb., are moved through floodwaters to higher ground in Fremont Neb., Friday, March 15, 2019. (AP)
Updated 11 min 53 sec ago
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Parts of US Midwest deluged in historic deadly floods

  • Record flooding was reported in 17 locations in the state and 10 American Red Cross shelters were operating for displaced residents

CHICAGO: The US Midwest struggled Monday with historic flooding that claimed at least three lives, displaced residents and damaged hundreds of homes and businesses.
Swollen waters hit much of Nebraska, as well as parts of Iowa, Wisconsin, and South Dakota, after a major storm last week dumped snow and rain, even as melting snow was already raising the levels of area waterways.
Neighboring states could also be affected as floodwaters drain, officials said.
President Donald Trump on Monday described the floods as “devastating” and said the White House would remain in close contact with state officials.
“Our prayers are with the great people of South Dakota,” he said in one tweet.
In another aimed at Iowa residents, he said: “We support you and thank all of the first responders working long hours to help the great people of Iowa!“

The National Weather Service (NWS) described the flooding as “major” and “historic,” forecasting that it would continue across large sections of the middle of the country.
“Flood Warnings and Adviseries are scattered throughout the Plains, Mississippi Valley, and western parts of the Ohio Valley region, with a focus in Nebraska and western Iowa,” the NWS said in an advisory.
“Farther west and north, areal flooding is also possible in the Northwest and Northern Plains as snowmelt continues over frozen ground.”
The early damage assessment total for the state of Nebraska was more than $260 million, according to emergency management officials.
Record flooding was reported in 17 locations in the state and 10 American Red Cross shelters were operating for displaced residents.
At its highest point, the Missouri River was expected to crest at 47.5 feet (14.5 meters), beating its 2011 record by more than one foot.
“Comparisons to 2011 were inevitable,” the NWS office in Iowa tweeted, “but these floods have resulted in many more rescues and widespread damage in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa.”
Failing levees were blamed for flooding in numerous communities — damaging homes and businesses.
The US Army Corps of Engineers, which maintains federal levee systems, said a majority were compromised along an approximately 100-mile portion of the Missouri River in southeast Nebraska.

Hundreds of people were rescued in Nebraska, where 54 cities issued emergency declarations, as did four Native American tribal areas.
Fremont, a city of more than 25,000, was surrounded by floodwaters over the weekend and cut off from aid.
It finally received food and other emergency supplies Sunday after crews managed to clear debris and mud from a road, officials said.
Three dozen Iowa counties were under states of emergency.
Roads were closed throughout Wisconsin and more than 200 people were evacuated, according to officials.
A third of Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska was overcome with floodwater, and was not expected to be dry again until Thursday.
“It’s important to understand that this is going to take weeks and months to recover so this will be a prolonged effort,” one of the base’s leaders, Kevin Humphrey, said in a statement.
Three people were reported killed.
A Nebraska farmer died Thursday, during the height of the storm, trying to rescue a motorist stranded by floodwaters, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
On the same day, 80-year-old Betty Hamernik died after being trapped by floodwaters in her home in rural Columbus, Nebraska, according to the newspaper.
Aleido Rojas Galan, 55, was killed Friday in Iowa when his vehicle was swept away by floodwaters, TV station KETV said.