What we know about hurricanes Irma and Jose: facts, figures, forecast

A sailor leaves with his belongings after loosing his boat in Marigot, in Saint-Martin island devastated by Irma hurricane, on September 9, 2017. (File photo by AFP)
Updated 10 September 2017

What we know about hurricanes Irma and Jose: facts, figures, forecast

PARIS: Hurricane Irma has pounded the Caribbean, leaving at least 25 people dead, destroying thousands of homes and triggering a mass evacuation in the US state of Florida.
After making landfall in Cuba’s Camaguey archipelago late Friday, Irma is now bearing down on Florida, where authorities have ordered 6.3 million people to evacuate.
Irma, previously a top-rated Category Five storm, weakened Saturday to Category Four and then to a Category Three, packing 125 mile-an-hour winds (205 kilometer per hour).
With near-hurricane force winds lashing the Florida Keys starting around 8:00 p.m. (0100 GMT), the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned that “Irma is forecast to restrengthen” as it approaches mainland Florida.
A second Category Four hurricane, Jose, followed part of Irma’s track, but spared storm-hit Caribbean islands of St. Martin and St. Barts, which had already suffered catastrophic damage.
Jose is expected to veer north and pose no threat to the United States.
The death toll stands at at least 25: 12 in the French island of St. Barts and the Dutch-French territory of St. Martin; six in British Caribbean islands; at least four in the US Virgin Islands; at least two in Puerto Rico; and one in Barbuda.
The International Red Cross says 1.2 million people have already been affected by Irma — a number that could rise to 26 million.
The bill for loss and damage could hit $120 billion (100 billion euros) in the United States and Caribbean, according to data modelling firm Enki Research.
Irma hit the tiny Caribbean island of Barbuda on Wednesday with winds up to 295 kph. The island suffered “absolute devastation,” with up to 30 percent of properties demolished, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said.
One person is known to have died on the island of 1,600 residents, apparently a child whose family was trying to get to safer ground.
Irma then slammed into the holiday islands of St. Barts and St. Martin, wielding monster winds and torrential rain.
St. Martin is divided between France and the Netherlands. France said 10 people had died on its side, while the Netherlands said the storm killed two on the Dutch side, called Sint Maarten.
On the Dutch side, 70 percent of the infrastructure has been destroyed.
Debris still clogs the streets, many homes are uninhabitable, communications are still down, tens of thousands are without food, water or power, and the authorities are struggling to prevent looting.
In the British archipelago of Anguilla, one man was crushed to death in a house collapse.
Five people have been killed in the British Virgin Islands, according to the local government.
Just east of Puerto Rico, it is home to roughly 28,000 people and includes British billionaire Richard Branson’s Necker Island.
At least four people have been killed in the US Virgin Islands, officials told AFP.
At least two people were killed in the US territory of Puerto Rico, and more than half of its three million residents were without power after rivers broke their banks in the center and north of the island.
Some 20,000 people were evacuated and more than 2,000 homes affected by floods in the Dominican Republic, the eastern part of the island of Hispaniola, which is also shared by Haiti.
Irma brought flooding and caused several injuries in Haiti, but passed further north than had been forecast, sparing the impoverished island the worst. A number of roads were washed out.
Irma made landfall on the island’s Camaguey Archipelago late Friday. Close to a million people have left their homes to stay with relatives or in shelters and the electricity supply cut as a precautionary measure.
Cuba had already evacuated 10,000 foreign tourists from beach resorts and raised its disaster alert level to maximum ahead of Irma’s arrival.
Irma is expected to strike the Florida Keys early Sunday, tracking along the peninsula’s western coast, which faces the Gulf of Mexico, rather than the more heavily populated Atlantic side, according to the US National Hurricane Center.
But the storm is so wide that the authorities have ordered 6.3 million people — more than quarter of Florida’s population — to evacuate and many residents have joined a mass exodus.
The US military is mobilizing thousands of troops and deploying several large ships to help with evacuations and humanitarian relief.
A state of emergency has been declared in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Georgia ordered the evacuation of the city of Savannah and other coastal areas.
Hurricane Jose, after strengthening to Category 4 status, passed 135 kilometers (83 miles) north of St. Barts and 125 kilometers from Saint Martin.
France’s meteorological agency had issued its highest warning, saying Hurricane Jose could become a “dangerous event of exceptional intensity.”
But “thanks to a passage which was further away than anticipated, the effects on the territory were markedly less,” the meteorological agency said.
Another hurricane, Katia, made landfall in eastern Mexico late Friday killing two people, just as the country grappled with damage inflicted by its worst earthquake in a century.


Ethiopia says suspects confessed to killing popular singer

Updated 10 July 2020

Ethiopia says suspects confessed to killing popular singer

  • Hachala Hundessa became a symbol of the Oromo struggle during years of anti-government protests that swept Abiy to power in 2018
  • Though Abiy is Ethiopia’s first Oromo head of state, Oromo nationalists accuse him of insufficiently championing their interests since taking office

ADDIS ABABA: Ethiopia’s attorney general said Friday that two men had confessed to killing a popular singer from the Oromo ethnic group as part of a plot to topple Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government.
Hachala Hundessa became a symbol of the Oromo struggle during years of anti-government protests that swept Abiy to power in 2018.
His shooting death last week sparked days of protests and ethnic violence that killed 239 people, according to police figures.
“The assassination was intended to be a cover to take power from the incumbent by force,” attorney general Abebech Abbebe said in a statement Friday aired on state television, without providing details.
Though Abiy is Ethiopia’s first Oromo head of state, Oromo nationalists accuse him of insufficiently championing their interests since taking office, a complaint echoed by many protesters last week.
Abebech said that along with the two men who have allegedly confessed to the crime, the government has identified a third suspect who remains on the run.
One of the men in custody identified the masterminds of the alleged plot as members of a rebel group the government believes is affiliated with the opposition Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) political party, Abebech said.
The OLF, a former rebel movement, returned to Ethiopia from exile after Abiy took office and has repeatedly disavowed any links to armed insurgents.
The Internet remained shut off Friday for an 11th consecutive day, though Addis Ababa remains calm and Abiy’s office issued a statement saying the surrounding Oromia region had “returned to calm and citizens have resumed normal activities.”
In her statement, however, Abebech said unnamed agitators were calling for additional protests and road blockages in the coming days.
“There are those that have hidden themselves in nice places but are calling on Ethiopian youth to fight each other, close roads and to cease working as part of a rebellion call,” Abebech said.
“Above all we call on our people to disobey this rebellion call and to thwart it.”