Rescuers in Texas intensify efforts as Harvey moves offshore

A woman paddles down a flooded road while shuttling deliveries for her neighbors during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey on August 30, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (AFP)
Updated 01 September 2017

Rescuers in Texas intensify efforts as Harvey moves offshore

ORANGE, United States: Emergency workers in storm-hit southeast Texas on Thursday staged dramatic rescues by air and water in towns that were until now cut off by raging floodwaters unleashed by monster storm Harvey, which finally started to move inland.
Nearly a week after the storm smashed into the US Gulf Coast as a Category Four hurricane, thousands of rescuers and civilians eager to help battled difficult conditions to reach victims of the unprecedented flooding.
“We felt we’d be alright. We were wrong,” said Lonnie Givens, who refused to evacuate their one-story home in the town of Orange. Now, he and wife Missy have about four inches (10 centimeters) of water in the house and no power.
“We really got nowhere to go,” Givens said.
The story told by Givens held for many others in Texas towns inundated by days of torrential rains, with highways still submerged and homes destroyed.
A hospital in the hard-hit town of Beaumont was forced to evacuate its patients — nearly 200 people — when the town’s water supply went down.
So far, Harvey has been blamed for at least 38 deaths and tens of billions of dollars of damage.
“We are still in response mode and that means life saving,” Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert told a White House briefing. “There are still people up to their waists in water.”

Bossert estimated that 100,000 homes had been affected by flooding — some with eight feet (2.4 meters) of water or more — and said the White House would be asking Congress for emergency funds.
On Thursday, the lack of power to refrigeration units at a chemical plant in Crosby sparked twin explosions and a fire that spewed black smoke, but authorities said the danger was limited.
There was a bit of good news — in Houston, America’s fourth-largest city, some of the 2.3 million residents got relief as the raging waters receded.
“We’re going to stay with you until we bring southeast Texas back to being bigger and better than ever before,” said US Vice President Mike Pence in the town of Rockport, which sustained major damage when Harvey made landfall.
President Donald Trump, who visited Texas on Tuesday, will return to the state on Saturday — and may also visit Louisiana, which has also seen serious flooding.
In Orange, a National Guard truck stopped to rescue three people near the Givens home.
“They are life savers!” shouted one of the women, after she waded out of knee-deep water.

In Beaumont, to the northwest of the coastal city of Port Arthur, the water system was down.
Brock Long, the head of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said his agency was working with the state and the military to open water distribution points for those affected.
Indeed, military trucks fanned out, loaded up with bottled water, military backpacks and personnel ready to help.
The breakdown of the water system forced the evacuation of nearly 200 patients from a Beaumont hospital, some by military helicopters.
“It is very, very organized,” hospital spokeswoman Mary Poole said. “We’ve practiced this many times before.”
“We’re trying to keep them as close as possible,” she said of the evacuated patients. “Part of the healing process is to be with your family.”

Early in the day, a pair of explosions rocked a flooded chemical plant in Crosby, a town of around 3,000 people some 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Houston, sending a plume of smoke into the air.
Officials ordered residents living within 1.5 miles of the facility to evacuate amid concerns about the fumes emanating from the facility, which produces organic peroxides — compounds that can combust if not cooled to the right temperature.
The company said the chemicals could cause eye, skin or respiratory irritation as well as nausea, drowsiness or dizziness, and urged nearby residents to turn off their air conditioners to avoid possible smoke exposure.
The Environmental Protection Agency said it was reviewing data from an aircraft that surveyed the scene and had no indication that dangerous amounts of toxic materials have been released.
“We believe along with the local authorities that we’ve moved everyone out of harm’s way, and that no one is in danger,” Richard Rennard, a senior executive for French plant owner Arkema, told a news conference.
Fifteen sheriff’s deputies who responded to the fire were briefly hospitalized.
Crosby resident Lane Averett, 59, told AFP at a church shelter in the town that he was worried about the animals he had left behind.
“I had to leave because of the plant,” Averett said.
“I got a dog and three cats, and a calf shut up in the trailer where they can’t get no water or feed or nothing,” he said. “They need to get some water and feed today.”

In Louisiana, authorities scrambled to safeguard their state from Harvey, whose onslaught evoked painful memories of Hurricane Katrina’s deadly strike 12 years ago — but New Orleans escaped with minimal rain.
So far, parts of Texas have seen more than 50 inches (1.27 meters) of rain, while in Louisiana, the total neared 24 inches.
More than 30,000 people have found refuge in shelters across Texas, from the giant Houston convention center to small churches, according to FEMA.
In Houston, where Mayor Sylvester Turner issued a nighttime curfew to aid search efforts and thwart potential looting, the two major airports have reopened on a limited basis, signaling a slow return to normality.
In Texas, the storm damage is staggering — Enki Research put its “best estimate” at between $48 billion and $75 billion.


Indian woman who alleged gang rape dies after burn attack

Updated 07 December 2019

Indian woman who alleged gang rape dies after burn attack

  • The woman was attacked in the state of Uttar Pradesh by a group of men that included two of the five she had accused of gang rape last year
  • The 23-year-old woman suffered extensive injuries and was airlifted Thursday from Uttar Pradesh to Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi, where she died late Friday of cardiac arrest

NEW DELHI: An alleged rape victim in northern India who was set on fire while heading to a court hearing in the case has died in a New Delhi hospital, officials said Saturday.
The woman was attacked in the state of Uttar Pradesh by a group of men that included two of the five she had accused of gang rape last year, police said. The two were out of custody on bail.
Five men were arrested in connection with the burn attack, police said.
The 23-year-old woman suffered extensive injuries and was airlifted Thursday from Uttar Pradesh to Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi, where she died late Friday of cardiac arrest, said Dr. Shalab Kumar, head of the hospital’s burn unit.
Yogi Adityanath, the state’s chief minister, said that the case would be heard in a fast track court and that the “strictest of punishment will be given to the culprits.”
Priyanka Gandhi, general secretary of the opposition Congress party, faulted the Uttar Pradesh government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, for failing to provide the woman with security, even after a similar case in the state in which a woman who accused a BJP lawmaker of rape was severely injured in a vehicle hit-and-run incident.
Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, is known for its poor record regarding crimes against women. According to the most recent available official crime records, police registered more than 4,200 cases of rape in the state in 2017 — the most in India.
Government figures for 2017 also show that police registered 33,658 cases of rape in the country. But the real figure is believed to be far higher as many women in India don’t report cases to police due to fear.
Indian courts also seem to be struggling to deal with these cases. Data shows that more than 90% of cases of crimes against women are pending in city courts.
The burn victim’s death came on the same day police in the southern state of Telangana fatally shot four men being held on suspicion of raping and killing a 27-year-old veterinarian after investigators took them to the crime scene. Their deaths drew both praise and condemnation in a case that has sparked protests across the country.
The woman’s burned corpse was found last week by a passer-by near the city of Hyderabad, India’s tech hub, after she went missing the previous night.
Police took the four suspects, who had not been charged with any crime, to the scene to help them locate the victim’s phone and other items, officials said. They said the men grabbed police firearms and began shooting, and were killed when police returned fire.
The Telangana High Court ordered authorities to preserve the bodies of the suspects and submit a video of the autopsies ahead of a court hearing set for Monday.
Separately, the National Commission on Human Rights, an autonomous body within India’s Parliament, sent a fact-finding mission to the crime scene and mortuary where the suspects’ bodies were held on Saturday amid questions from opposition lawmakers about the circumstances of the suspects’ deaths.