Hurricane Irma batters Cuba on way to Florida

A surfer enjoys the waves churned up by the approaching Hurricane Irma on Saturday in Miami Beach, Florida. (AFP)
Updated 09 September 2017

Hurricane Irma batters Cuba on way to Florida

JAVANA: Hurricane Irma battered central Cuba on Saturday, knocking down power lines, uprooting trees and ripping off roofs as it headed toward Florida, authorities and witnesses said.
After leaving at least 19 people dead on its path across the Caribbean, Irma was “seriously” damaging the center of the island with winds up to 256 km per hour, Cuban state media said.
Irma weakened slightly to Category 4 early Saturday after making landfall in Cuba, according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).
There were no confirmed casualties in Cuba.
The state meteorological service INSMET reported waves of up to 7 meters on the northern coast.
“It has now stopped raining, but all night there was a terrible wind” which ripped up trees, knocked down power lines and damaged roofs, said Gisela Fernandez, a 42-year-old nurse in central Villa Clara province.
In the province’s main city Caibarien, an AFP reporter said deafening gusts of wind were sweeping the area and 6,250 people had been evacuated to state refuges or other peoples’ homes.
Others were shut up in their houses.
A large part of the center and east of the island was without power, television reports said.
The governor of the central Camaguey province, Isabel Gonzalez, speaking on national television, reported “major damage,” without giving further details.
Irma is expected to strike the Florida Keys late Saturday and Sunday before moving inland.
“Some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or two, but Irma is expected to remain a powerful hurricane as it approaches Florida,” the NHC said in a public advisory.
Some 5.6 million people there faced orders to evacuate.
In Cuba, more than a million people were evacuated as a precaution, authorities said.
Another Category 4 hurricane, Jose, was also swirling in the Atlantic with winds of up to 150 miles per hour.
It was heading toward the same string of Caribbean islands Irma had pummeled in the days before.
And Hurricane Katia struck the eastern coast of Mexico late Friday as a Category One storm, but was downgraded to a tropical storm after making landfall.
Katia was “beginning to stall” near the Sierra Madre mountains — though heavy rainfall would still “likely cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, especially in areas of mountainous terrain,” the NHC said.


Man suspected of killing wife, three children in Australia fire

Updated 20 February 2020

Man suspected of killing wife, three children in Australia fire

  • Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country was ‘shocked, saddened and devastated’ by the tragedy
  • A passer-by who tried to intervene in the situation was also taken to hospital to be treated for facial burns

SYDNEY: An ex-rugby league player is suspected of murdering his three children and estranged wife in Australia by burning them alive inside their car, in what police described as one of the most horrific incidents they have encountered.

Officers said 31-year-old Hannah Clarke died in a Brisbane hospital on Wednesday just hours after her three children aged three, four and six were found dead in the car on a suburban street.

Her husband, Rowan Baxter, who also died, allegedly approached the vehicle and doused it with petrol before setting it alight, The Australian newspaper reported.

The paper said Clarke jumped from the burning car and rolled on the ground, saying “he’s poured petrol on me.”

Officials said she was rushed to hospital with severe burns following the “horrific” incident but later succumbed to her injuries.

Baxter, a 42-year-old former rugby league player for the New Zealand Warriors, was believed to be in the burning vehicle but got out and died on a footpath.

Queensland Police detective inspector Mark Thompson said Thursday that Baxter died as a result of burns and a self-inflicted wound.

“Information that’s to hand has led us to believe that the Baxter children and Hannah Clarke were killed and I don’t believe there’s any suspicious circumstances around the death of Rowan Baxter,” he said.

Clarke’s sister-in-law, Stacey Roberts, set up a fundraiser to pay for funeral costs and support Hannah’s parents, who she said had “exhausted themselves to try and help Hannah escape this monster.”

“All those who knew Hannah or had even just met her once would know how much of a beautiful soul she was. Her children (were) her life,” Roberts posted on Facebook.

The page has so far raised almost Aus$100,000 ($67,000).

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country was “shocked, saddened and devastated” by the tragedy, which has led to an outpouring of grief on social media.

“Hannah and her three children were so senselessly and maddeningly murdered in what has occurred in a terrible act of violence and it just grieves our hearts terribly today,” he said.

Natasha Stott Despoja, a former senator and chair of anti-violence group Our Watch, called for stronger action to address violence against women in Australia, which she described as a “national emergency.”

“I know people want change, people are angry & sad today,” she tweeted. “How long before we stop this slaughter in our suburbs?“

A passer-by who tried to intervene in the situation was also taken to hospital to be treated for facial burns, a Queensland Ambulance Service spokesperson said.

The emergency responders who attended the scene have been stood down from their duties and will receive support, he added.