’Everything wiped away’: Tornado kills at least 26 in Mississippi

Kenterica Sardin, 23, stands where her bedroom once was after being damaged from a series of powerful storms and at least one tornado on March 25, 2023 in Rolling Fork, Mississippi. (AFP)
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Kenterica Sardin, 23, stands where her bedroom once was after being damaged from a series of powerful storms and at least one tornado on March 25, 2023 in Rolling Fork, Mississippi. (AFP)
’Everything wiped away’: Tornado kills at least 26 in Mississippi
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The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado caused damage about 96 kilometers northeast of Jackson, Mississippi. (Twitter)
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Updated 26 March 2023

’Everything wiped away’: Tornado kills at least 26 in Mississippi

’Everything wiped away’: Tornado kills at least 26 in Mississippi
  • Tornado continued sweeping northeast at 70 mph without weakening
  • Tens of thousands of people in Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee remained without power

ROLLING FORK, Mississippi: Rescuers raced Saturday to search for survivors and help hundreds of people left homeless after a powerful tornado cut a devastating path through Mississippi, killing at least 25 people, injuring dozens, and flattening entire blocks as it carved a path of destruction for more than an hour. One person was killed in Alabama.
The tornado devastated a swath of the Mississippi Delta town of Rolling Fork, reducing homes to piles of rubble, flipping cars on their sides and toppling the town’s water tower. Residents hunkered down in bath tubs and hallways during Friday night’s storm and later broke into a John Deere store that they converted into a triage center for the wounded.
“There’s nothing left,” said Wonder Bolden, holding her granddaughter, Journey, while standing outside the remnants of her mother’s now-leveled mobile home in Rolling Fork. “There’s just the breeze that’s running, going through — just nothing.”
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency announced late Saturday afternoon in a tweet that the death toll had risen to 25 and that dozens of people were injured. Four people previously reported missing had been found.
Other parts of the Deep South were digging out from damage caused by other suspected twisters. One man died in Morgan County, Alabama, the sheriff’s department there said in a tweet.
Throughout Saturday, survivors walked around dazed and in shock as they broke through debris and fallen trees with chain saws, searching for survivors. Power lines were pinned under decades-old oaks, their roots torn from the ground.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves issued a State of Emergency and vowed to help rebuild as he headed to view the damage in an area speckled with wide expanses of cotton, corn and soybean fields and catfish farming ponds. President Joe Biden also promised federal help, describing the damage as “heartbreaking.”
The damage in Rolling Fork was so widespread that several storm chasers — who follow severe weather and often put up livestreams showing dramatic funnel clouds — pleaded for search and rescue help. Others abandoned the chase to drive injured people to the hospital.
It didn’t help that the community hospital on the west side of town was damaged, forcing patients to be transferred. The tornado also mangled a cotton warehouse and ripped the steeple off a Baptist church.
Sheddrick Bell, his partner and two daughters crouched in a closet of their Rolling Fork home for 15 minutes as the tornado barreled through. Windows broke as his daughters cried and his partner prayed.

Perrilloux said preliminary findings are that the tornado began its path of destruction just southwest of Rolling Fork before continuing northeast toward the rural communities of Midnight and Silver City, then moving toward Tchula, Black Hawk and Winona.
The supercell that produced the deadly twister also appeared to produce tornadoes that caused damage in northwest and north-central Alabama, said Brian Squitieri, a severe storms forecaster with the weather service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
In northern Alabama’s Morgan County, a 67-year-old man who became trapped beneath a trailer that flipped over during severe overnight storms was rescued by first responders, but he died later at a hospital, AL.com reported.
Even as survey teams work to assess how many tornadoes struck and their severity, the Storm Prediction Center warned of the potential for hail, wind and possibly a few tornadoes Sunday in parts of Mississippi and Louisiana.
Cornel Knight waited at a relative’s home in Rolling Fork for the tornado to strike with his wife and 3-year-old daughter. Despite the darkness, its path was visible.
“You could see the direction from every transformer that blew,” he said. Just a cornfield away from where he was, the twister struck another relative’s home, collapsing a wall and trapping several people.
Royce Steed, the emergency manager in Humphreys County where Silver City is located, likened the damage to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“It is almost complete devastation,” he said after crews finished searching buildings and switched to damage assessments. “This little old town, I don’t know what the population is, it is more or less wiped off the map.”
In the town, the roof had torn off Noel Crook’s home.
“Yesterday was yesterday and that’s gone – there’s nothing I can do about it,” Crook said. “Tomorrow is not here yet. You don’t have any control over it, so here I am today.”
The tornado looked so powerful on radar as it neared the town of Amory, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) southeast of Tupelo, that one Mississippi meteorologist paused to say a prayer after new radar information came in.
“Oh man,” WTVA’s Matt Laubhan said on the live broadcast. “Dear Jesus, please help them. Amen.”
Now that town is boiling its water, and a curfew is in effect. Three shelters in the state are feeding the throngs of displaced people.
“It’s a priceless feeling to see the gratitude on people’s faces to know they’re getting a hot meal,” said William Trueblood, of the Salvation Army, as he headed to the area, picking up supplies along the way.
Despite the damage, there were signs of improvement. Power outages, which at one point were affecting more than 75,000 customers in Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama, had been cut by a third by midafternoon Saturday, according to poweroutage.us.
Meteorologists saw a big tornado risk coming for the general region as much as a week in advance, said Northern Illinois University meteorology professor Walker Ashley.
Tornado experts like Ashley have been warning about increased risk exposure in the region because of people building more.
“You mix a particularly socioeconomically vulnerable landscape with a fast-moving, long-track nocturnal tornado, and, disaster will happen,” Ashley said in an email.

 

 


Pakistan’s Khan gets bail on new charge of abetting violence – lawyer

Pakistan’s Khan gets bail on new charge of abetting violence – lawyer
Updated 9 sec ago

Pakistan’s Khan gets bail on new charge of abetting violence – lawyer

Pakistan’s Khan gets bail on new charge of abetting violence – lawyer
  • Former prime minister is embroiled in a confrontation with the powerful military
  • Bail until June 2 on the new charge means he will not be detained on that charge
LAHORE, Pakistan: Pakistani former prime minister Imran Khan was on Tuesday granted bail on a new charge of abetting violence against the military by his protesting supporters after he was arrested and detained on May 9 in a corruption case, his lawyer said.
The embattled Khan, who says the corruption charges have been concocted, is embroiled in a confrontation with the powerful military, which has ruled Pakistan directly or overseen civilian governments throughout its history.
His May 9 arrest sparked widespread protests by his supporters who ransacked various military facilities, raising new worries about the stability of the nuclear-armed country as it struggles with its worst economic crisis in decades.
Khan, 70, was later freed on the orders of a court.
His lawyer, Intezar Hussain Punjotha, said an anti-terrorism court confirmed the bail on the new charge after the former premier appeared before it and submitted surety bonds.
Khan has denied the charge saying he was in detention when the violence took place.
The bail until June 2 on the new charge means he will not be detained on that charge.
The former international cricket star became prime minister in 2018 with the tacit support of the military, though both sides denied it at the time.
He later fell out with generals and was ousted as prime minister after losing a confidence vote in 2022.
Khan has since then been campaigning for a snap election, with rallies with his supporters across the country, but the prime minister who replaced him, Shahbaz Sharif, has rejected the call for an election before it is due late this year.
The turmoil has exacerbated Pakistan’s economic crisis with inflation at record highs, growth is anemic amid fears of a sovereign default on external debts unless the International Monetary Fund (IMF) unlocks delayed disbursements.
Dozens of Khan’s supporters have been handed over to army authorities for trial in military courts.
A team of investigators looking into the May 9 violence summoned Khan on Tuesday for questioning but Punjotha said a member of his legal team would go instead.
Khan has appealed for talks to end the crisis. The government has rejected his call.

NATO seeks to narrow differences over Ukraine membership bid

NATO seeks to narrow differences over Ukraine membership bid
Updated 29 min 19 sec ago

NATO seeks to narrow differences over Ukraine membership bid

NATO seeks to narrow differences over Ukraine membership bid
  • NATO has not acceded to Ukraine’s request for fast-track membership
  • Western governments are wary of moves that could take the alliance closer to entering an active war with Russia

BRUSSELS: NATO foreign ministers will seek to narrow divisions over Ukraine’s membership bid at a meeting in Oslo this week, with allies at odds over calls to grant Kyiv a road map to accession at their July summit.
NATO has not acceded to Ukraine’s request for fast-track membership as Western governments such as the US and Germany are wary of moves that they fear could take the alliance closer to entering an active war with Russia.
However, both Kyiv and some of its closest allies in eastern Europe have been pushing for NATO to at least take concrete steps to bring Ukraine closer to membership at the alliance’s summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 11-12.
“It would be very sad if in any way anyone could read the outcome of the Vilnius summit as a victory of Russia in precluding Ukraine to join NATO one day,” Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said on Friday.
Last week, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg made it clear that Ukraine will not be able to join the alliance as long as the war against Russia continues.
“To become a member in the midst of a war is not on the agenda,” he said. “The issue is what happens when the war ends.”
NATO agreed at its 2008 summit in Bucharest that Ukraine will join eventually.
However, leaders have since stopped short of steps such as giving Kyiv a membership action plan that would lay out a timetable for bringing the country closer to NATO.
On the sidelines of their Oslo meeting on Wednesday and Thursday, foreign ministers are also expected to touch on the search for a new NATO chief, with Stoltenberg due to step down in September.
Meanwhile, President Tayyip Erdogan’s election victory in Turkiye has brought fresh momentum to efforts to break a deadlock over the ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership, held up by objections from Turkiye and Hungary.
Any progress in Oslo is unlikely, however, as Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will not be there, Sweden said, although talks between him and Sweden’s Tobias Billstrom will nevertheless take place “soon.”


Clash between Somalia army and Al-Shabab kills 17, witness says

Clash between Somalia army and Al-Shabab kills 17, witness says
Updated 55 min 16 sec ago

Clash between Somalia army and Al-Shabab kills 17, witness says

Clash between Somalia army and Al-Shabab kills 17, witness says
  • Insurgent group attacks a military base on the outskirts of a town in the center of the country
  • Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab has been fighting since 2006 to topple Somalia’s central government

MOGADISHU: Fighters from Somalia’s Al-Shabab insurgent group attacked a military base on the outskirts of a town in the center of the country, leading to at least 17 deaths, a resident said.
The attack on Masagawa, about 300 kilometers north of Mogadishu, came days after Al-Shabab attacked a base housing Ugandan forces from an African Union peacekeeping mission in Bulamarer, 130km southwest of the capital.
“I have seen 17 dead people including the attackers and the attacked. The fighting has moved into the forest. The town is calm now and under government control,” Hussein Nur, a resident of Masagawa, said by phone.
Captain Abdullahi Mohamed, a military officer in Masagawa, confirmed the attack and said 12 Al-Shabab fighters had died, but he did not know how many troops were dead.
“Fierce fighting went on for hours on the edge of the town. So far, I know we lost soldiers but I have no exact figure. We repulsed Al-Shabab and now we are pursuing them in the forest,” Mohamed said.
The Somalia National Army said on Twitter it had prevented an attack on the town itself, and killed Al-Shabab fighters, but did not say how many.
Al Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab has been fighting since 2006 to topple Somalia’s central government and establish its own rule based on its strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law.
It has launched significant attacks against hotels, military bases and government establishments in despite a relatively successful government push back.
The group said in a statement it had killed 73 soldiers in the attack, targeting those who had returned from training in Eritrea.
Al Shabab tends to give casualty figures in attacks that differ from those issued by the authorities.


Malaysia searches Chinese ship suspected of looting WWII wrecks

Malaysia searches Chinese ship suspected of looting WWII wrecks
Updated 30 May 2023

Malaysia searches Chinese ship suspected of looting WWII wrecks

Malaysia searches Chinese ship suspected of looting WWII wrecks
  • Officers discover unexploded shells upon boarding the Chinese-registered vessel
  • Vessel from the city of Fuzhou had a crew of 32 comprising mostly Chinese nationals

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s coast guard said on Tuesday authorities were questioning the crew of a Chinese vessel detained on suspicion of looting two British World War II shipwrecks.
Officers discovered unexploded shells upon boarding the Chinese-registered vessel, which was detained for illegal anchorage at the weekend, said Nurul Hizam Zakaria, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency chief in Johor state.
“Our investigation is now directed to where these cannon shells originated from. Right now, we have officers from multi-agencies searching the big ship,” he said.
Nurul Hizam said the vessel from the city of Fuzhou had a crew of 32 comprising 21 Chinese nationals, 10 Bangladeshis and one Malaysian, some of whom were in coast guard custody for questioning.
“This case also involves the discovery of explosives,” he said.
China’s foreign affairs ministry said the Chinese embassy in Malaysia was in close communication with local authorities “to understand the situation.”
It asked Malaysia to handle the case “fairly and in accordance with the law.” Beijing also asked Malaysia to protect the rights and safety of Chinese citizens.
A senior Malaysian maritime official said on condition of anonymity that the pieces of metal and shells could have originated from two sunken British warships.
More than 800 British sailors were killed when the HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse were torpedoed by Japanese aircraft in the South China Sea.
The attack on December 10, 1941, happened three days after Japan attacked the US fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Photos and a video shared by the Malaysian coast guard showed large pieces of corroded metal and shells, as well as a large crane and gas torches used to cut metal on board the ship.
The shells could also be linked to the discovery of unexploded World War II-era ordnance at a jetty in Johor on May 19, the maritime agency said in a statement Monday.
Nurul Hizam said the maritime agency would not tolerate any form of illegal salvage activities in Malaysian waters.
“Our national treasure must be protected and preserved,” he said, describing looting as “an uncivilized act.”
Britain’s Ministry of Defense condemned the “desecration” of maritime military graves after reports that scavengers had targeted two WWII wrecks, the BBC said Saturday.
Malaysia’s New Straits Times newspaper reported in recent weeks that illegal salvage operators had targeted high-grade aluminum and brass fixtures from the two British warships.


Five Greek border police accused of smuggling migrants

Five Greek border police accused of smuggling migrants
Updated 30 May 2023

Five Greek border police accused of smuggling migrants

Five Greek border police accused of smuggling migrants
  • The five men appeared before a prosecutor in the northeastern city of Orestiada
  • Thousands of migrants, mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, have in recent years crossed into Greece from Turkiye in the hope of making it to western Europe

ATHENS: Five Greek border police officers were arraigned Tuesday as suspected accomplices of a smuggling network that illegally brought migrants into the country from Turkiye.
The five men appeared before a prosecutor in the northeastern city of Orestiada, a day after the police department’s internal affairs division said they had been arrested on suspicion of taking bribes and breach of duty.
They are accused of helping to smuggle an unknown number of migrants on at least 12 occasions in the Didymoteicho area in northeastern Greece, the police said in a statement.
“An investigation so far has shown that the officers had been in contact with networks operating in a neighboring country at least since October, and allegedly carried out actions or omissions aimed at facilitating the entry of (non-EU) nationals into our country,” it said.
Evidence linked to the case includes nearly 60 cellphones, Turkish lira and banknotes from a number of Asian countries, the police said.
Thousands of migrants, mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, have in recent years crossed into Greece from Turkiye in the hope of making it to western Europe.
With the stepping up of patrols in the Aegean Sea making it harder for migrants to reach Greek islands, more are taking their chances by crossing the River Evros, Greece’s natural border with Turkiye, and having traffickers take them from there by road.
Athens has decided to extend by 35 kilometers (22 miles) a five-meter high steel fence which runs along the river.
The fence is currently 38 kilometers long, and Athens aims to carry out the extension within a year, adding a total of 100 kilometers by 2026.