Hurricane Nate threatens US central Gulf Coast after killing 25

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu speaks during a news conference as Tropical Storm Nate approaches the US Gulf Coast in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Reuters)
Updated 07 October 2017
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Hurricane Nate threatens US central Gulf Coast after killing 25

MANAGUA: Hurricane Nate was expected to strengthen on Saturday and make landfall, threatening the US central Gulf Coast with strong winds and storm surges after killing at least 25 people in Central America.
Nate, a Category 1 hurricane, the weakest on a five-category scale used by meteorologists, was churning toward the central Gulf of Mexico as New Orleans evacuated some residents from areas outside its levee system.
“Nate is at our doorstep or will be soon,” New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said.
The greatest threat from this particular storm is not rain, but strong winds and storm surge, Landrieu said. The winds could cause significant power outages, and storm surges are projected to be six to nine feet (1.8 to 2.7 meters) high, he added.
“We have been through this many, many times. There is no need to panic,” Landrieu told a news conference.
The storm brushed by Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, home to beach resorts such as Cancun and Playa del Carmen, as it headed north, the US National Hurricane Center in Miami said.
Nate packed maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour (130 kmh) and was about 420 miles (675 km) south-southeast of the Mississippi river on Saturday as it was expected to strengthen, the NHC said.
In the United States, a state of emergency was declared for 29 Florida counties and states near Nate’s path — Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi — as well as the city of New Orleans, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The NHC issued a hurricane watch from Grand Isle, Louisiana to the Alabama-Florida border.
“By Saturday noon you should be in your safe place,” Alabama Governor Kay Ivey told a news conference. “This is a fast-moving storm and we must begin preparing now.”
Nearly three-quarters of US Gulf of Mexico oil production was offline ahead of the storm, and more oil companies halted operations on Friday.
On Friday evening, Nate was moving north-northwest at 22 miles per hour (35 kmh), a fast pace which if maintained could mean the storm does less damage when it hits land.
The storm doused Central America with heavy rains on Thursday, killing at least 12 people in Nicaragua, nine in Costa Rica, two in Honduras and two in El Salvador, local authorities said.
Thousands were forced to evacuate their homes and Costa Rica’s government declared a state of emergency.
Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis urged residents to remain vigilant, noting rains would likely resume.
In Honduras, residents wondered whether they would have to flee. Norma Chavez and her two children anxiously watched a river rise outside their home in Tegucigalpa, the capital.
“We are worried that it will grow more and carry away the house,” said Chavez, 45.
Through Monday, Nate is expected to produce two to four inches (5 to 10 cm) more rain in eastern Yucatan and western Cuba and three to six inches (8 to 15 inches) in the US central Gulf Coast.
About 71 percent of US Gulf of Mexico oil production and 53 percent of natural gas output is offline ahead of Nate’s arrival, the US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) said on Friday.
Oil companies have evacuated staff from 66 platforms and five drilling rigs, it said. Oil production equaling 1.24 million barrels of crude per day is offline, according to BSEE.


Consultations underway to choose new TTP chief

Updated 18 June 2018
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Consultations underway to choose new TTP chief

  • Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan lost its chief Mullah Fazlullah along with four guards last week when a US drone fired on his vehicle after he attended an 'iftar' party
  • Members of the TTP "shoura" have been involved in consultations since the death of Fazlullah to name a new commander

ISLAMABAD: Senior Pakistani Taliban leaders have been in hectic consultations over the past few days to appoint their new chief after a US spy aircraft killed the group’s chief, Mullah Fazlullah, in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province, locals and journalists told Arab News.
Fazlullah was killed along with his four guards on June 13 when a drone fired missiles on his vehicle shortly after he attended an “iftar” party at the center of the Taliban militants from Swat valley based in Kunar’s Marora district.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistani intelligence officials confirmed the death of Fazlullah, who had led a violent campaign against security forces in Swat until 2009, and later appeared in Afghanistan, where he had regrouped his fighters. The outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, however, has not yet confirmed the leader’s death.
A senior journalist from Waziristan, who extensively reports on the Pakistani Taliban, has confirmed that the Taliban are involved in consultations to appoint a new leader.
Ihsanullah Tipu Mehsud, an expert on Taliban affairs who writes for international media, said on Monday the Taliban leaders are delaying the announcement of Fazlullah’s death before the appointment of his successor to avoid any internal rift.
“Huge divisions surfaced following the death of previous TTP leader Ameer Hakimulllah Mehsud in a US drone strike. The rift resulted in the killing of dozens of Taliban from the Sajna and Sheharyar Mehsud factions,” Tipu told Arab News.
Hakimullah was killed in a US drone strike in North Waziristan on Nov. 1, 2013. Taliban militants from the Mehsud factions involved in fighting after Hakimullah’s death and infighting had reportedly claimed lives of nearly 200 people from both sides.
Members of the TTP "shoura" have been involved in consultations since the death of Fazlullah to name a new commander but have not yet reached a consensus on who should lead the group.
“Discussions have been held about three candidates — Omar Rehman, known as Ustad Fateh (Swat), Sheikh Khalid Haqqani (Swabi) and Zahid Qari (Bajaur),” another source close to the Taliban told Arab News.
Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud, alias Abu Asim, the TTP deputy chief and Mohammed Azeem, alias Maulvi Khatir, who heads the Mehsud faction of the Taliban, are also among the possible candidates. Both are from South Waziristan.
Earlier it was reported that the TTP’s "shoura" elected Fateh, a close confidant of Fazlullah, as their new chief.
A senior journalist in South Waziristan, Ishtiaq Mehsud, disagreed with the reports about the appointment of Ustad Fateh as the TTP new leader and insisted that consultations were still underway.
Ishtiaq said that the delay to name the new chief was not because of TTP’s differences but because the commanders faced difficulties in contacting each other as they live in different areas.
“There are no differences in the TTP’s ranks and according to my information the majority of the commanders are in favor of Mufti Noor Wali to lead the group,” Ishtiaq told Arab News.
Wali, author of “Inquilab Mehsud,” was appointed deputy TTP chief after a US drone killed Khan Said Sajna in February this year. He previously headed the powerful Mehsud Taliban.
Mohammed Khorasani, the TTP spokesman, did not reply to several emails from Arab News about the death and the consultation process to name the new chief.