Snowstorm buries parts of US Northeast

Updated 29 December 2012
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Snowstorm buries parts of US Northeast

WASHINGTON/CONCORD, New Hampshire: A powerful winter storm that has dumped a foot (30 cm) of snow on parts of the United States forced the cancellation of 457 flights yesterday and threatened more havoc as it hit the New England states with fierce winds. The death toll has to 12.
The storm has dropped about a foot in some parts of the Northeast, a day after it dumped a record snowfall in Arkansas and ruined holiday travel plans around the region.
The National Weather Service says the Northeast's heaviest accumulations will be in northern Pennsylvania, upstate New York and inland sections of several New England states.
In coastal areas, the storm is mostly bringing high winds and heavy rain.
Thousands of travelers were trying to make it home yesterday after the fierce storm stranded them at airports or relatives' homes around the region.
The latest storm-related deaths include a man checking on a disabled vehicle near Allentown, Pa., who was struck and killed Wednesday night, and two people killed in separate crashes in Virginia.
The heaviest snow was falling on Pennsylvania, New York and New England, and winter storm warnings continued over a majority of the US Northeast, the National Weather Service said.
The massive storm system touched off tornadoes in the South and produced snow in Texas before barreling down on the densely populated Northeast.
The service forecast 12 to 18 inches (30.5 to 46 cm) of snow for northern New England after the storm moved northeast out of the lower Great Lakes, where it left more than a foot (30.5 cm) of snow on parts of Michigan.
The storm front was accompanied by freezing rain and sleet, creating hazards on the highways and at airports.
So far, 457 US airline flights scheduled for Thursday had been canceled, according to FlightAware.com, a website that tracks flights.
New York state activated its Emergency Operations Center late on Wednesday to deal with the first major storm of the season.
Governor Andrew Cuomo warned the heads of seven utilities they would be held accountable for their performances. Utilities near New York City were criticized for lingering outages after Superstorm Sandy devastated the region in October.
New York state has seen little snow during autumn and winter. Buffalo, New York, was 23 inches (58 cm) below normal for the season before the storm, said Bill Hibbert, a National Weather Service meteorologist.
"We're short and even this big snow isn't going to make it up for us," he said.
The storm dumped record snow in north Texas and Arkansas before it swept through the U.S. South on Christmas Day and then veered north.
The system spawned tornadoes and left almost 200,000 people in Arkansas and Alabama without power on Wednesday.
At least five people were killed in road accidents related to the bad weather, police said.


Far-right group attacks migrants on Greek island

Updated 10 min 29 sec ago
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Far-right group attacks migrants on Greek island

MYTILENE, Greece: A far-right group launched a violent attack overnight on migrants staging a sit-in protest on the Greek island of Lesbos, injuring around a dozen people, police said Monday.
The violence erupted late Sunday after members of the radical “Patriotic Movement” gathered on the central square of the island’s main city Mytilene, where some 200 Afghan asylum-seekers launched a sit-in protest last week against their miserable living conditions.
Despite police presence, the situation soon escalated as the extremists started throwing bottles and lighting flares, shouting slogans like “Burn them alive” and “Throw them in the sea.”
Tensions spiralled further when leftwing activists arrived in support of the migrants and started fighting with the far-right supporters.
The clashes raged all night until security forces used tear gas to disperse the crowd and evacuate the square, forcing the Afghans to return to the island’s overcrowded migrant camps.
A dozen migrants were lightly hurt and had to be taken to hospital, police said.
Over 6,500 migrants are currently stranded on Lesbos, far exceeding the 3,000 spots available in the camps.
More than one million people, mainly fleeing war in Syria, crossed to Greece from Turkey in 2015 after the onset of the bloc’s worst migration crisis since World War II.
The influx has been sharply cut since the European Union signed a controversial deal with Turkey in 2016 to send back migrants.
However, more than 13,000 migrants are still languishing in camps on five Greek islands until their asylum claims can be processed. This has fueled despair and sparked protests and outbreaks of violence.
Greece, a country of 11 million people, recorded 58,661 applications last year, making it the member state with the highest number of asylum seekers per capita, according to official data.