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Denmark says Nord Stream 1 pipelines stopped leaking

Pipeline leak stopped

 

Authorities in Denmark said Sunday that the Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipelines have also stopped leaking, a day after officials said that the ruptured Nord Stream 2 pipelines also appeared to stop leaking.

The Nord Stream AG company informed the Danish Energy Agency that a stable pressure now appears to have been achieved on the Nord Stream 1 pipelines.

“The Nord Stream AG company has informed the Danish Energy Agency that a stable pressure now appears to have been achieved on the two Nord Stream 1 pipelines. This indicates that the blowout of gas from the last two leaks has now also been completed,” the Danish agency tweeted Sunday.

The Danish agency said Saturday the Nord Stream 2 ruptured natural gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea appears to have stopped leaking natural gas.

Undersea blasts that damaged the Nord Stream I and 2 pipelines this week have led to huge methane leaks. Nordic investigators said the blasts have involved several hundred pounds of explosives.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday accused the West of sabotaging the Russia-built pipelines, a charge vehemently denied by the United States and its allies.

The U.S.-Russia clashes continued later at an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council in New York called by Russia on the pipelines attacks and as Norwegian researchers published a map projecting that a huge plume of methane from the damaged pipelines will travel over large swaths of the Nordic region.



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Brazil holds historic election with Lula against Bolsonaro

Brazil holds historic election

Brazilians were voting on Sunday in a highly polarized election that could determine if the country returns a leftist to the helm of the world’s fourth-largest democracy or keeps the far-right incumbent in office for another four years.

The race pits incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro against his political nemesis, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. There are nine other candidates, but their support pales to that for Bolsonaro and da Silva. Voting stations opened at 1100 GMT (7 a.m. EDT; 8 a.m. Brasilia time).

Recent opinion polls have given da Silva a commanding lead — the last Datafolha survey published Saturday found that 50 per cent of respondents who intend to vote for a candidate said they would vote for da Silva, against 36 per cent for Bolsonaro. The polling institute interviewed 12,800 people, with a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.

Agatha de Carvalho, 24, arrived to her local voting station in Rio de Janeiro’s working class Rocinha neighborhood shortly before it opened, hoping she could cast her vote before work, but found 100 others were already lined up. She said she would vote for da Silva, and called Bolsonaro “awful.”

“A lot of people died because of him during the pandemic. If he hadn’t done some of the things he did, some of those deaths could have been avoided,” she said.

Bolsonaro’s administration has been marked by incendiary speech, his testing of democratic institutions, his widely criticized handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the worst deforestation in the Amazon rainforest in 15 years.

But he has built a devoted base by defending traditional family values, rebuffing political correctness and presenting himself as protecting the nation from leftist policies that infringe on personal liberties and produce economic turmoil.

Also in Rocinha, Manuel Pintoadinho, a 65-year-old metalworker, said he voted for Bolsonaro and didn’t blame him for tough economic times.

“The pandemic ruined everything, inflation is really high,” Pintoadinho said. “It’s not his fault.”

A slow economic recovery has yet to reach the poor, with 33 million Brazilians going hungry despite higher welfare payments. Like several of its Latin American neighbors coping with high inflation and a vast number of people excluded from formal employment, Brazil is considering a shift to the political left.

Gustavo Petro in Colombia, Gabriel Boric in Chile and Pedro Castillo in Peru are among the left-leaning leaders in the region who have recently assumed power.

There is a chance da Silva could win in the first round, without need for a run-off on Oct. 30. For that to happen, he would need more than 50 per cent of valid votes, which exclude spoiled and blank ballots. Brazil has more than 150 million eligible voters, and voting is mandatory, but abstention rates can reach as high as 20 per cent.

An outright win would sharpen focus on the president’s reaction to the count given he has repeatedly questioned the reliability not just of opinion polls, but also of the electronic voting machines. Analysts fear he has laid the groundwork to reject results. At one point, Bolsonaro claimed to possess evidence of fraud, but never presented any, even after the electoral authority set a deadline to do so. He said as recently as Sept. 18 that if he doesn’t win in the first round, something must be “abnormal.”

The two frontrunners have key bases of support: evangelicals and white men for Bolsonaro, and women, minorities and the poor for da Silva.

Da Silva, 76, will vote in Sao Paulo state, where he was once a metalworker and union leader. He rose from poverty to the presidency and is credited with building an extensive social welfare program during his 2003-2010 tenure that helped lift tens of millions into the middle class.

But he is also remembered for his administration’s involvement in vast corruption scandals that entangled politicians and business executives.

Da Silva's own convictions for corruption and money laundering led to 19 months imprisonment, sidelining him from the 2018 presidential race that polls indicated he had been leading against Bolsonaro. The Supreme Court later annulled da Silva’s convictions on the grounds that the judge was biased and colluded with prosecutors.

Bolsonaro, who will vote in Rio de Janeiro, grew up in a modest family before joining the army. He eventually turned to politics after being forced out of the military for openly pushing to raise servicemen’s pays. During his seven terms as a fringe lawmaker in Congress’ lower house, he regularly expressed nostalgia for the country’s two-decade military dictatorship.

His overtures to the armed forces have raised concern that his possible rejection of election results could be backed by top brass.

Traditionally, the armed forces' involvement in elections has been limited to carrying voting machines to isolated communities and beefing up security in violent regions. But this year, Bolsonaro suggested the military should conduct a parallel count of the ballots.

While that didn't materialize, the Defense Ministry said it will cross check results in over 380 polling stations across Brazil. Any citizen or entity is able to do the same, consulting a vote tally available at each station after ballot closure and online.

Because the vote is conducted electronically, preliminary results are usually out within minutes, with the final result available a few hours later. This year, all polls will close at 5 p.m. Brasilia time (4 p.m. EDT; 2000 GMT), regardless of areas that are in later time zones.



Pope warns of nuclear war risk; appeals to Putin on Ukraine

Pope appeals for cease fire

Pope Francis on Sunday appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin for a cease-fire, imploring him to “stop this spiral of violence and death” in Ukraine and denouncing the “absurd” risk of the “uncontrollable” consequences of nuclear attack as tensions sharply escalate over the war.

Francis uttered his strongest plea yet about the seventh-month-old conflict, which he denounced as an “error and a horror.”

It was the first time in public that he cited Putin's role in the war. The pontiff also called on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to “be open” to serious peace proposals.

Francis told the public, gathered in St. Peter's Square, that he was abandoning his usual religious theme for his Sunday noon remarks to concentrate his reflection on Ukraine.

“How the war is going in Ukraine has become so grave, devastating and threatening that it sparks great worry,” Francis said.

“In fact, this terrible, inconceivable wound of humanity, instead of shrinking, continues to bleed even more, threatening to spread,” the pope said.

“I deplore strongly the grave situation created in the last days, with further actions contrary to the principles of international law," Francis said, in a clear reference to Putin's illegal annexation of a large swath of eastern Ukraine. ”It, in fact, increases the risk of a nuclear escalation, to the point of fearing uncontrollable and catastrophic consequences on the world level.”

“Rivers of blood and tears spilled these months torment me,'' the pope said. ”I am pained by the thousands of victims, in particular among the children, and by so much destruction, that leaves many persons and families homeless and threatens vast territories with cold and hunger,'' he said.

“Certain actions can never be justified, never,'' the pope said. He didn't elaborate. But Putin sought to justify launching the invasion saying he needed to protect his country from what he called “Nazi" elements in Ukraine.

"It's anguishing that the world is learning the geography of Ukraine through names like Bucha, Irpin, Mariupol, Izium, Zaporizhizhia and other places, that have become places of indescribable sufferings and fears,'' Francis said.

"And what to say about the fact that humanity finds itself again faced with atomic threat? It's absurd,'' Francis said, who then called for an immediate cease-fire.

“My appeal is directed above all to the president of the Russian Federation, imploring him to stop, also for the love of his people, this spiral of violence and death,'' Francis said. ”On the other side, pained by the immense suffering of the Ukrainian people following the aggression undergone, I direct a similarly trusting appeal to the president of Ukraine to be open to serious proposals of peace,'' Francis said.

It is rare for the pope to single out leaders in his frequent appeals for an end to violent conflicts. In doing so, Francis signaled his extreme worry over the deteriorating situation.

“May arms cease and conditions be searched for to start negotiations able to lead to solutions not imposed by force but agreed upon, just and stable,'' Francis said. ”And they will be thus if they are based on respect for the sacrosanct value of human life, as well as on the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of every country, as well as the rights of minorities and of legitimate concerns."

Invoking God’s name and the “sense of humanity that lodges in every heart,” he renewed his many pleas for an immediate cease-fire.

Without elaborating, Francis also called for the “recourse to all diplomatic instruments, including those so far possibly not utilized, to end this immense tragedy."

“The war itself is an error and a horror,'' the pontiff lamented.

Throughout the war, Francis has denounced the recourse to arms. But recently, he stressed Ukraine's right to defend itself from aggression. Logistics complications have frustrated his oft-stated hope to make a pilgrimage to Ukraine to encourage peace efforts.



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Biden pledge to make federal fleet electric faces slow start

Slow start for EV plan

President Joe Biden, a self-described “car guy,'' often promises to lead by example by moving swiftly to convert the sprawling U.S. government fleet to zero-emission electric vehicles. But efforts have lagged in helping meet his ambitious climate goals by eliminating gas-powered vehicles from the federal fleet.

Biden last year directed the U.S. government to purchase only American-made, zero-emission passenger cars by 2027 and electric versions of other vehicles by 2035.

“We’re going to harness the purchasing power of the federal government to buy clean, zero-emission vehicles,” the president said soon after his January 2021 inauguration. He has since used photo ops — taking a spin in Ford Motor Co.'s electric F-150 pickup truck, or driving GM’s Cadillac Lyriq electric SUV at the Detroit auto show — to promote their potential. Cabinet officials have hawked a first set of Ford Mustang Mach-E SUVs in use at the departments of Energy and Transportation.

The White House frequently describes the 2027 timeline as on track. But the General Services Administration, the agency that purchases two-thirds of the 656,000-vehicle federal fleet, says there are no guarantees.

Then there is the U.S. Postal Service, which owns the remaining one-third of the federal fleet. After initially balking and facing lawsuits, the agency now says that half of its initial purchase of 50,000 next-generation vehicles will be powered by electricity. The first set of postal vehicles will hit delivery routes late next year.

Climate advocates say that agency can do even better.

“USPS should now go all-electric or virtually all electric with its new vehicles,'' said Luke Tonachel, senior director of clean vehicles and buildings at the Natural Resources Defense Council, citing an additional $3 billion in federal spending targeted for the postal fleet under the landmark climate law Biden signed last month.

About 30% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector, making it the single largest source of planet-warming emissions in the country.

Electrification of the federal fleet is a “cornerstone” of Biden’s efforts to decarbonize the federal government, said Andrew Mayock, chief federal sustainability officer for the White House.

“The future is electric, and the federal government has built a strong foundation ... that’s going to deliver on this journey we’re on over the next decade,? he said in an interview.

Excluding the Postal Service, about 13% of new light-duty vehicles purchased across the government this year, or about 3,550, were “zero emissions,” according to administration figures provided to The Associated Press. The government defines zero emissions as either electric or plug-in hybrid, which technically has a gas-burning engine. That compares with just under 2% in the 2021 budget year and less than 1% in 2020.

Nationwide, about 6% of new car sales are electric.

When it comes to vehicles actually on the road, the federal numbers are even smaller. Many of the purchases in recent months won't be delivered for as long as a year due to supply chain problems.

Currently just 1,799 of the 656,000-vehicle federal fleet are zero-emissions vehicles.

At a rate of 35,000 to 50,000 GSA car purchases a year, it will take years, if not decades, to convert the entire fleet.

“It hasn’t been exactly a fast start,” said Sam Abuelsamid, principal mobility analyst for Guidehouse Insight. "It’s going to be challenging for them probably for at least the next year or two to really accelerate that pace.”

Christina S. Kingsland, who directs the business management division for the federal fleet at GSA, said “the federal fleet is a working fleet.”

The agency pointed to a limited EV supply from automakers with big upfront costs. In addition, it said the needs of agencies are often highly specialized, from Interior Department pickup trucks on large rural tribal reservations to hulking Department of Homeland Security SUVs along the U.S. border.

Agencies also need easy access to public EV charging stations. The White House has acknowledged agencies are “way behind” on their own charging infrastructure, with roughly 600 charging stations and 2,000 total chargers nationwide.

While Biden's bipartisan infrastructure law provides $7.5 billion to states to build out an EV charging network of up to 500,000 chargers over several years along interstate highways, no money from that law was earmarked for federal agencies' specialized needs. Money for charging stations must be allocated in each department's budget.

Meeting Biden's goal for the federal fleet is contingent on industry increasing production as predicted beginning in 2025 and 2026, analysts say. By that time, the effects of big federal investments to build public chargers and boost EV manufacturing in the U.S. will likely be felt alongside tougher rules for automakers to curtail tailpipe emissions.

GM, for example, has set a target of 1 million EV annual production capacity worldwide by 2025, while Ford expects to make 2 million EVs globally by 2026. Stellantis also is cranking up production capacity and is getting ready to launch a whole slate of new EVs.

The White House has declined to set a specific goal for EV purchases in 2023, but Mayock said he expects the number to be higher than 13%.

While the Postal Service is an independent agency, it plays an essential role in fleet electrification, not only because it owns 234,000 vehicles in the federal fleet, but also because the familiar blue-and-white mail trucks are by far the most visible federal vehicle, rolling into neighborhoods across America each day.

The agency plans to buy up to 165,000 of next-generation vehicles over a decade. The Postal Service remains "committed to reducing our carbon footprint in many areas of our operations and expanding the use of EVs in our fleet is a priority,'' said spokesperson Kim Frum.

White House officials say government EV purchases can only increase exponentially after a near-zero baseline a few years ago under President Donald Trump, who sought to loosen fuel economy requirements for gas-powered vehicles and proposed doing away with a federal tax credit for electric cars.

At a recent EV demonstration at a Federal Law Enforcement Training Center outside Washington, officers test-drove EVs outfitted for police use, including the Ford Mustang Mach-E. Mayock called it “a big change-management moment? for the government.



Florida deaths rise to 47 amid struggle to recover from Ian

Florida deaths rise to 47

 Rescuers evacuated stunned survivors on a large barrier island cut off by Hurricane Ian and Florida's death toll climbed sharply, as hundreds of thousands of people were still sweltering without power days after the monster storm rampaged from the state's southwestern coast up to the Carolinas.

Florida, with nearly four dozen reported dead, was hit hardest by the Category 4 hurricane, one of the strongest to make landfall in the United States. Flooded roadways and washed-out bridges to barrier islands left many people isolated, amid limited cellphone service and a lack of basic amenities such as water, electricity and the internet.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Saturday that multibillionaire businessman Elon Musk was providing some 120 Starlink satellites to “help bridge some of the communication issues.” Starlink, a satellite-based internet system created by Musk's SpaceX, will provide high-speed connectivity.

Florida utilities were working to restore power. As of Sunday morning, nearly 850,000 homes and businesses were still without electricity, down from a peak of 2.67 million.

At least 54 people were confirmed dead: 47 in Florida, four in North Carolina and three in Cuba. The weakened storm had drifted north on Sunday and was expected to dump rain on parts of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and southern Pennsylvania, according to the National Hurricane Center, which has warned of the potential for flash flooding.

More than 1,000 people were rescued from flooded areas along Florida's southwestern coast alone, Daniel Hokanson, a four-star general and head of the National Guard, told The Associated Press while airborne to Florida.

In Washington, the White House announced that President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden would travel to Florida on Wednesday. But a brief statement did not release any details of the planned visit.

The bridge to Pine Island, the largest barrier island off Florida’s Gulf Coast, was destroyed by the storm, leaving it accessible only by boat or air. The volunteer group Medic Corps, which responds to natural disasters worldwide with pilots, paramedics and doctors, went door-to-door asking residents if they wanted to be evacuated.

Some flew out by helicopter, and people described the horror of being trapped in their homes as water kept rising.

“The water just kept pounding the house and we watched, boats, houses — we watched everything just go flying by,” Joe Conforti said, fighting back tears. He said if it wasn’t for his wife, who suggested they get up on a table to avoid the rising water, he wouldn’t have made it: “I started to lose sensibility, because when the water’s at your door and it’s splashing on the door and you’re seeing how fast it’s moving, there’s no way you’re going to survive that.”

River flooding posed a major challenge at times to rescue and supply delivery efforts. The Myakka River washed over a stretch of Interstate 75, forcing a traffic-snarling highway closure for a while before officials said later Saturday that it could be reopened.

While swollen rivers have crested or are near cresting, the levels aren’t expected to drop significantly for days, National Weather Service meteorologist Tyler Fleming said.

Elsewhere, South Carolina's Pawleys Island, a beach community roughly 75 miles (115 kilometers) up the coast from Charleston, was also hit hard. Power remained knocked out to at least half the island Saturday.

Eddie Wilder, who has been coming to Pawleys Island for more than six decades, said it was “insane” to see waves as high as 25 feet (7.6 meters) wash away a landmark pier near his home.

“We watched it hit the pier and saw the pier disappear,” he said. “We watched it crumble and and watched it float by with an American flag.”

Wilder's house, located 30 feet (9 meters) above the shoreline, stayed dry inside.

In North Carolina, the storm downed trees and power lines. Two of the four deaths in the state were from storm-related vehicle crashes, and the others involved a man who drowned when his truck plunged into a swamp and another killed by carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator in a garage.

At Port Sanibel Marina in Fort Myers, Florida, the storm surge pushed several boats and a dock onshore. Charter captain Ryan Kane said his vessel was so badly damaged that he was unable to use it to help rescue people, and now it will be a long time before he can take clients fishing again.

“There’s a hole in the hull. It took water in the motors. It took water in everything,” he said, adding: “You know, boats are supposed to be in the water, not in parking lots."



125 die as tear gas triggers crush at Indonesia soccer match

125 die at soccer match

MALANG, Indonesia (AP) — Police firing tear gas after an Indonesian soccer match in an attempt to stop violence triggered a disastrous crush of fans making a panicked, chaotic run for the exits, leaving at least 125 people dead, most of them trampled upon or suffocated.

Attention immediately focused on police crowd-control measures at Saturday night’s match between host Arema FC of East Java’s Malang city and Persebaya Surabaya. Witnesses described officers beating them with sticks and shields before shooting tear gas canisters directly into the crowds.

It was among the deadliest disasters ever at a sporting event. President Joko Widodo ordered an investigation of security procedures, and the president of FIFA called the deaths “a dark day for all involved in football and a tragedy beyond comprehension.” While FIFA has no control over domestic games, it has advised against the use of tear gas at soccer stadiums.

Brawls are common among rival Indonesian soccer fans, so much so that the organizer had banned Persebaya supporters from Arema’s stadium. But violence still broke out when the home team lost 3-2 and some of the 42,000 Arema fans, known as “Aremania,” threw bottles and other objects at players and soccer officials.

Witnesses said the fans flooded the Kanjuruhan Stadium pitch and demanded that Arema management explain why, after 23 years of undefeated home matches against Persebaya, this one ended in a defeat.

At least five police vehicles were toppled and set ablaze outside the stadium. Riot police responded by firing tear gas, including toward the stadium's stands, causing panic among the crowd.

“The stadium turned into a smoke-filled battleground when police fired tear gas,” said Rizky, who goes by one name. He came with his cousin to watch the game.

“I felt hot and stinging in my eyes, I couldn’t see clearly while my head was dizzy and everything went dark ... I passed out,” he said. When he woke up, he was already in the emergency room. He said his cousin died because of head injuries.

“We wanted to entertain ourselves by watching a football match, but we got disaster,” he said.

Another spectator, Ahmad Fatoni, said police had started beating the fans with sticks and shields, and they fought back.

“Officers fired tear gas directly at spectators in the stands, forcing us to run toward the exit,” he said. “Many victims fell because of shortness of breath and difficulty seeing due to tear gas and were trampled.”

He said he climbed the roof of the stands and only came down when the situation calmed.

Others suffocated and were trampled as hundreds of people ran to the exit to avoid the tear gas. In the chaos, 34 died at the stadium, including two officers, and some reports include children among the casualties.

“Some were trampled, some fell down and some got hit,” Rian Dwi Cahyono told Sky News from the hospital, where he was being treated for an injured arm. Asked what triggered the panic, he replied: “Tear gas.”

National Police chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo said the death toll had been revised to 125 from 174, after authorities found some of the victims were counted twice. More than 100 were receiving intensive treatment in eight hospitals, 11 of them in critical condition.

East Java police chief Nico Afinta defended the use of tear gas.

“We have already done a preventive action before finally firing the tear gas as (fans) began to attack the police, acting anarchically and burning vehicles,” he told a news conference early Sunday.

Indonesia’s soccer association, known as PSSI, suspended the premier soccer league Liga 1 indefinitely in light of the tragedy and banned Arema from hosting soccer matches for the remainder of the season.

Grieving relatives waited for information about their loved ones at Malang's Saiful Anwar General Hospital. Others tried to identify the bodies laid at a morgue while medical workers put identification tags on the bodies of the victims.

“I deeply regret this tragedy and I hope this is the last soccer tragedy in this country, don’t let another human tragedy like this happen in the future,” Widodo said in a televised speech. “We must continue to maintain sportsmanship, humanity and a sense of brotherhood of the Indonesian nation.”

He ordered the sports minister, the national police chief and the PSSI chair to conduct a thorough evaluation of the country’s soccer and its security procedure.

Youth and Sports Minister Zainudin Amali said the incident "has certainly injured our soccer image.” Indonesia is due to host the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup from May 20 to June 11, with 24 participating teams. As the host, the country automatically qualifies for the cup.

In a statement, FIFA President Gianni Infantino expressed condolences on behalf of the global football community, saying “the football world is in a state of shock.” The statement did not mention the use of tear gas.

At the Vatican, Pope Francis said he was praying for “those who have lost their lives and for the wounded following clashes that erupted after a soccer game in Malang, Indonesia.”

The restriction on Persebaya fans from entering the stadium was imposed after clashes between supporters of the two rival teams in East Java's Blitar stadium in February 2020 caused 250 million rupiah ($18,000) in damage. Brawls were reported outside the stadium during and after the semifinals of the East Java Governor’s Cup, which ended with Persebaya beating Arema 4-2.

Rights groups responded to the tragedy by blaming the use of tear gas in the stadium by police.

Citing FIFA’s stadium safety guidelines against the use of “crowd control gas” by pitch side stewards or police, Amnesty International called on Indonesian authorities to conduct a swift investigation into the use of tear gas and ensure that those who are found to have committed violations are tried in open court and do not merely receive internal or administrative sanctions.

Usman Hamid, executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia, said tear gas should only be used to disperse crowds when widespread violence has occurred and other methods have failed. People must be warned that tear gas will be used and allowed to disperse. “No one should lose their lives at a football match,” Hamid said.

Hundreds of soccer fans, mostly wearing black shirts, held a candlelight vigil on Sunday night at Gelora Bung Karno, Indonesia’s largest sport stadium in the capital, Jakarta, for the victims of the disaster. They sang songs they composed to lift the spirits of the grieving Aremanias.

Despite Indonesia’s lack of international accolades in the sport, hooliganism is rife in the soccer-obsessed country where fanaticism often ends in violence, as in the 2018 death of a Persija Jakarta supporter who was killed by a mob of hardcore fans of rival club Persib Bandung in 2018.

Data from Indonesia’s soccer watchdog, Save Our Soccer, showed 78 people have died in game-related incidents over the past 28 years.

Saturday's game is already among the world's worst crowd disasters, including the 1996 World Cup qualifier between Guatemala and Costa Rica in Guatemala City where over 80 died and over 100 more were injured. In April 2001, more than 40 people are crushed to death during a soccer match at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, South Africa.

___

Karmini reported from Jakarta, Indonesia. Associated Press journalists Edna Tarigan and Andi Jatmiko in Jakarta contributed to this report.



Ian leaves dozens dead as focus turns to rescue, recovery

Storm kills dozens

With a death toll nearing three dozen, rescuers searched on Saturday for survivors among the Florida homes ruined by Hurricane Ian, while authorities in South Carolina began assessing damage from the powerful storm's strike there as stunned residents began the painstaking task of surveying their losses.

Ian, one of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit the U.S., terrorized millions of people for most of the week, battering western Cuba before raking across Florida from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean, where it mustered enough strength for a final assault on South Carolina. The storm was expected to weaken through the day as it moves across the mid-Atlantic.

At least 31 people were confirmed dead, including 27 people in Florida mostly from drowning but others from the storm's tragic aftereffects. An elderly couple died after their oxygen machines shut off when they lost power, authorities said.

As of Saturday, more than 1,000 people had been rescued from flooded areas along Florida's southwestern coast alone, Daniel Hokanson, a four-star general and head of the National Guard, told The Associated Press while airborne to Florida.

Chris Schnapp was at the Port Sanibel Marina in Fort Myers on Saturday, waiting to see whether her 83-year-old mother-in-law had been evacuated from Sanibel Island. A pontoon boat had just arrived with a load of passengers from the island — with suitcases and animals in tow — but Schnapp’s mother-in-law was not among them.

“She stayed on the island. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law own two businesses over there. They evacuated. She did not want to go, thinking it wasn’t going to be bad," Schnapp said. But then she got word Friday night that her mother-in-law would be arriving at the marina: “Now we don’t know if she’s still on the island or gotten on a bus,” and was taken to a shelter, Schnapp said.

South Carolina's Pawleys Island, a beach community about 73 miles (117 kilometers) up the coast from Charleston, was among the places hardest hit by Ian, and power remained knocked out to at least half of the island Saturday.

Eddie Wilder, who has been coming to Pawleys Island for more than six decades, said Friday’s storm was “insane to watch.” He said waves as high as 25 feet (7.6 meters) washed away the pier — an iconic landmark — just two doors down from his home.

“We watched it hit the pier and saw the pier disappear,” said Wilder, whose house sits about 30 feet (9 meters) above the ocean and stayed dry inside. “We watched it crumble and and watched it float by with an American flag still floating."

The Pawleys pier was one of at least four along South Carolina’s coast to be destroyed during Ian’s winds and rain. Portions of the pier, including barnacle-covered pylons, littered the beach. The intracoastal waterway was strewn with the remnants of several boat houses knocked off their pilings in the storm.

Traffic was shut off to Pawleys Island's southernmost point, where crews were working to clear roadways of sand and other debris that officials said has been piled at least a foot high. The sand will later be redistributed to build back the dunes along the beach front, as happened after a similar event in 2019.

Many of the elevated beach homes still had feet of sand underneath, with dunes completely washed over and nearly flattened.

John Joseph, whose father built the family’s beige beach house in 1962, said Saturday that he was elated to return from Georgetown — which took a direct hit — to find his Pawleys Island home entirely intact.

“Thank God these walls are still here, and we feel very blessed that this is the worst thing,” he said of the sand swept under his home. “What happened in Florida — gosh, God bless us. If we’d had a Category 4, I wouldn’t be here.“

In North Carolina, the storm appeared to have mainly downed trees and power lines, leaving over 280,000 people across the state without power late Saturday morning, according to state officials.

At least one fatality connected to the storm was reported in Johnston County, outside of Raleigh. A woman found her husband dead early Saturday after he went to check on a generator running in their garage overnight, sheriff’s office Capt. Jeff Caldwell said.

The storm's winds were much weaker Friday than during Ian's landfall on Florida's Gulf Coast earlier in the week. Authorities and volunteers there were still assessing the damage as shocked residents tried to make sense of what they just lived through.

“I want to sit in the corner and cry. I don’t know what else to do,” Stevie Scuderi said after shuffling through her mostly destroyed Fort Myers apartment, the mud in her kitchen clinging to her purple sandals.

On Saturday, a long line of people waited outside an O’Reilly’s auto parts store in Port Charlotte, where a sign read, “We have generators now.” Hundreds of cars were lined up outside a Wawa gas station, and some people walked, carrying gas cans to their nearby cars.

At Port Sanibel Marina in Fort Myers, charter boat captain Ryan Kane was assessing damage to two boats Saturday, after the storm surge pushed several boats and a dock onto shore. He said the boat he owns was totaled. He said he couldn't use it to help rescue people, and it would be a long time before he'd be chartering fishing clients.

“There’s a hole in the hull. It took water in the motors. It took water in everything,” he said, adding: “You know boats are supposed to be in the water, not in parking lots."

 



North Korea conducts 4th round of missile tests in 1 week

North Korea missile tests

North Korea on Saturday test-fired two short-range ballistic missiles, its neighbours said, the fourth round this week of weapons launches that prompted quick, strong condemnation from its rivals.

In an unusually strong rebuke of North Korea’s weapons programs, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said North Korea’s “obsession” with nuclear weapons is deepening the suffering of its own people, and warned of an “overwhelming response” from South Korean and U.S. militaries should such weapons be used.

“North Korea hasn’t abandoned its obsession with nukes and missiles despite the persistent international objection in the past 30 years,” Yoon said during an Armed Forces Day ceremony. “The development of nuclear weapons will plunge the lives of North Korean people in further pains.”

“If North Korea attempts to use nukes, it’ll face a resolute, overwhelming response by the South Korea-U.S. alliance and our military,” Yoon said.

Yoon’s comments could enrage North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who has alleged that Yoon’s government was led by “confrontation maniacs” and “gangsters.” Kim has already rebuffed Yoon’s offers of massive aid and support plans in return for denuclearization.

The North’s testing spree this week is seen as a response to recent naval drills between South Korea and the United States and their other training that involved Japan. North Korea views such military exercises by the allies as an invasion rehearsal and argues they reveal U.S. and South Korean “double standards” because they brand the North’s weapons tests as provocation.

On Saturday, South Korea, Japanese and U.S. militaries said they detected the two North Korean missile launches. South Korea said the liftoffs occurred from North Korea's capital region.

According to South Korean and Japanese estimates, the missiles flew about 350-400 kilometers (220-250 miles) at a maximum altitude of 30-50 kilometers (20-30 miles) before they landed in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. Toshiro Ino, Japan’s vice defense minister, the missiles showed “irregular” trajectory.

Some observers say the weapons’ reported low and “irregular” trajectory suggest they were likely nuclear-capable, highly maneuverable missiles modeled after Russia’s Iskander missile. They say North Korea has developed the Iskander-like missiles to defeat South Korean and U.S. missile defenses and strike key targets in South Korea, including U.S. military bases there.

The five other ballistic missiles fired by North Korea on three occasions this week show similar trajectories to the ones detected Saturday.

“The repeated ballistic missile firings by North Korea are a grave provocation that undermines peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and in the international community,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

Toshiro Ino, Japan’s vice defense minister, called the launches “absolutely impermissible," adding that four rounds of missile testing by North Korea in a week is “unprecedented.”

The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said the launches highlight “the destabilizing impact” of North Korea’s unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.

On Friday, South Korea, Japan and the United States held their first trilateral anti-submarine drills in five years off the Korean Peninsula’s east coast. Earlier this week, South Korean and U.S. warships conducted bilateral exercises in the area for four days. Both military drills this week involved the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its battle group.

The North Korean missile tests this week also bookended U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris' visit Thursday to South Korea, where she reaffirmed the United States' “ironclad” commitment to the security of its Asian allies.

This year, North Korea has carried out a record number of missile tests in what experts call an attempt to expand its weapons arsenal amid stalled nuclear diplomacy with the United States. The weapons tested this year included nuclear-capable missiles with the ability to reach the U.S. mainland, South Korea and Japan.

North Korea adopted a new law in September authorizing the preemptive use of nuclear weapons in certain situations, a move that shows its escalatory nuclear doctrine.

South Korean and U.S. officials say North Korea has also completed preparations to conduct a nuclear test, which would be its first in five years.

Experts say Kim Jong Un eventually wants to use the enlarged nuclear arsenal to pressure the United States and others accept his country as a legitimate nuclear state, a recognition he views as necessary to win the lifting of international sanctions and other concessions.

Multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions ban North Korea from testing ballistic missiles and nuclear devices. The country’s missile launches this year are seen as exploiting a divide at the U.N. council over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and U.S.-China competitions.

In May, China and Russia vetoed a U.S.-led attempt to toughen sanctions on North Korea over its ballistic missile launches.

“North Korea’s frequent short-range missile tests may strain the isolated state’s resources. But because of deadlock on the U.N. Security Council, they are a low-cost way for the Kim regime to signal its displeasure with Washington and Seoul’s defense exercises while playing the domestic politics of countering an external threat,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.



Powerful earthquake shakes Indonesia's Sumatra, kills 1

Powerful earthquake

A strong and shallow earthquake shook Indonesia’s Sumatra island on Saturday, killing a resident, injuring 11 and damaging more than a a dozen houses and buildings, police said.

The magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck about 40 kilometers (24.8 miles) northeast of Sibolga, a coastal city in North Sumatra province, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was 13 kilometers (8 miles) deep.

The pre-dawn earthquake was followed by two 5.0 magnitude aftershocks.

A 62-year-old man died of a heart attack while fleeing to safety in Tarutung village, which is closest to the epicenter, said local police chief Johanson Sianturi. Eleven people have been injured and at least 15 houses and buildings damaged in the village, he said.

Authorities were still investigating the full extent of the damage.

A footage released by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency showed several residents evacuating an injured person by a van to a hospital while panicked voices cried for help. The agency also showed several people receiving treatment and walls cracked by the earthquake.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of more than 270 million people, is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.

In February, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake killed at least 25 people and injured more than 460 in West Sumatra province. In January 2021, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake killed more than 100 people and injured nearly 6,500 in West Sulawesi province.

A powerful Indian Ocean quake and tsunami in 2004 killed nearly 230,000 people in a dozen countries, most of them in Indonesia.



Ukraine encircles key city; Russia intensifies bombing

Ukraine encircles key city

Ukrainian forces encircled the strategic eastern city of Lyman on Saturday in a counteroffensive that has humiliated the Kremlin, while Russian bombardments intensified after Moscow illegally annexed a swath of Ukrainian territory in a sharp escalation of the war.

In the northeast, Ukrainian officials accused Russian forces of attacking a civilian evacuation convoy, killing 20 people including children. In the south, Ukraine’s nuclear power provider said Saturday that Russian forces blindfolded and detained the head of Europe’s largest nuclear plant.

The fighting comes at a pivotal moment in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war. Facing Ukrainian gains on the battlefield — which he frames as a U.S.-orchestrated effort to destroy Russia — Putin this week heightened his threats of nuclear force and used his most aggressive, anti-Western rhetoric to date.

Despite Putin's land-grab Friday of four regions in Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his military have vowed to keep on fighting to liberate the annexed regions and other Russian-occupied areas.

Ukrainian officials said Saturday their forces had surrounded some 5,000 Russian forces who were trying to hold the eastern city of Lyman, which is located in Luhansk, one of the four annexed areas.

Andriy Yermak, Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, posted video online Saturday purporting to show Ukrainian soldiers at a monument on the outskirts of Lyman, waving a signed Ukrainian flag. It remained unclear whether Ukrainian forces have entered the city itself. Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai claimed that all routes to resupply Russian forces in Lyman were blocked.

Russia has not confirmed that its forces were cut off, and Russian analysts had said Moscow was sending more troops to the area.

But the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, said Ukraine likely will retake Lyman in the coming days.

Citing Russian reports, the institute said it appeared Russian forces were retreating from Lyman, 160 kilometres southeast of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. That corresponds to online videos purportedly showing some Russian forces falling back.

Meanwhile Ukrainian authorities accuse Russian forces of targeting two humanitarian convoys in recent days, killing dozens of civilians.

On Saturday the governor of the Kharkiv region, Oleh Syniehubov, said 20 civilians were killed in an attack on a convoy of people trying to flee the Kupiansky district, calling it “cruelty that can’t be justified.”

The Security Service of Ukraine, the secret police force known by the acronym SBU, posted photographs of the attacked convoy. At least one truck appeared to have been blown up, with burned corpses in what remained of its truck bed. Another vehicle at the front of the convoy also had been ablaze. Bodies lay on the side of the road or still inside their vehicles, which appeared pockmarked with bullet holes.

The SBU said the convoy was attacked with “small arms fire,” while the governor said it was shelled. The discrepancy could not be immediately resolved. The exact date of the attack was not announced.

Russian forces have not acknowledged or commented on the attack. Russian troops have retreated from much of the Kharkiv region after a successful Ukrainian counteroffensive last month but have continued to shell the area.

In an apparent attempt to secure Moscow’s hold on the newly annexed territory, Russian forces seized the director-general of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Ihor Murashov, around 4 p.m. Friday, according to the Ukrainian state nuclear company Energoatom. That was just hours after Putin signed treaties to absorb Moscow-controlled Ukrainian territory into Russia, including the area around the nuclear plant.

Energoatom said Russian troops stopped Murashov’s car, blindfolded him and then took him to an undisclosed location.

Russia did not publicly comment on the report. The International Atomic Energy Agency said Saturday that Russia told it that “the director-general of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was temporarily detained to answer questions.” The Vienna-based agency did not immediately elaborate.

“His detention by (Russia) jeopardizes the safety of Ukraine and Europe’s largest nuclear power plant,” said Energoatom President Petro Kotin, demanding the director's immediate release.

The power plant repeatedly has been caught in the crossfire of the war. Ukrainian technicians continued running it after Russian troops seized the power station, and its last reactor was shut down in September as a precautionary measure amid ongoing shelling nearby.

In its heaviest barrage in weeks, Russia's military on Friday pounded Ukrainian cities with missiles, rockets and suicide drones, with one strike in the Zaporizhzhia region’s capital killing 30 people and wounding 88.

In a daily briefing Saturday, the British Defense Ministry said the Russians “almost certainly” struck a humanitarian convoy there with S-300 anti-aircraft missiles. Russia is increasingly using anti-aircraft missiles to conduct attacks on the ground likely due to a lack of munitions, the British military said.

The attack came while Putin was preparing to sign the annexation treaties, which included the Zaporizhzhia region. Russian-installed officials in Zaporizhzhia blamed Ukrainian forces, but gave no evidence.

In other fighting reported Saturday, four people were killed and six injured by Russian shelling in the Donetsk region on Friday, governor Pavlo Kyrylenko reported.

The Russian army also struck the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv twice overnight, once with drones and the second time with missiles, according to regional Gov. Vitaliy Kim. Five people were injured, including a 3-month-old baby, he said.

After Friday's land grab, Russia now claims sovereignty over 15% of Ukraine, in what NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called “the largest attempted annexation of European territory by force since the Second World War.” He added that the war is at ”a pivotal moment."

Zelenskyy on Friday formally applied for NATO membership, upping the pressure on Western allies to defend Ukraine.



5 more bodies found from Puget Sound float plane crash

5 more bodies found

Five more bodies have been pulled from Puget Sound after a float plane crash nearly a month ago.

Six of the 10 victims of the crash that occurred on Sept. 4 near Whidbey Island north of Seattle have been found. Five have been identified, reports the Seattle Times.

About 80 per cent of the plane, including the engine, has been recovered using remotely operated vessels.

The de Havilland DHC-3 Otter floatplane departed Friday Harbour on San Juan Island, just east of Victoria B.C., on Sept 4. on a regular commuter route to a municipal airport in the southern suburbs of Seattle when it crashed into the water.

Officials are also investigating whether human remains that washed ashore at Dungeness Spit two weeks after the crash are a seventh victim.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation.



Russia vetoes UN resolution calling its referendums illegal

Russia vetoes UN resolution

Russia vetoed a U.N. resolution Friday that would have condemned its referendums in four Ukrainian regions as illegal, declared them invalid and urged all countries not to recognize any annexation of the territory claimed by Moscow.

The vote in the 15-member Security Council was 10-1 with China, India, Brazil and Gabon abstaining.

The resolution would also have demanded an immediate halt to Russia’s “full-scale unlawful invasion of Ukraine” and the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all its military forces from Ukraine.

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said before the vote that in the event of a Russian veto, the U.S. and Albania who sponsored the resolution will take it to the 193-member General Assembly where there are no vetoes, “and show that the world is still on the side of sovereignty and protecting territorial integrity.”

That is likely to happen next week.

Britain's U.N. ambassador, Barbara Woodward, echoed Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' statement that Russia's actions violate the U.N. Charter and must be condemned.

“The area Russia is claiming to annex is more than 90,000 square kilometers," she said. “This is the largest forcible annexation of territory since the Second World War. There is no middle ground on this."

The council vote came hours after a lavish Kremlin ceremony where President Vladimir Putin signed treaties to annex the Russian-occupied Ukrainian regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, saying they were now part of Russia and would be defended by Moscow.

Thomas-Greenfield said the results of the “sham” referendums on whether the regions wanted to join Russia were “pre-determined in Moscow, and everybody knows it.” “They were held behind the barrel of Russian guns,” she said.

Adding that “the sacred principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity” at the heart of the U.N. Charter must be defended, she said, “All of us understand the implications for our own borders, our own economies, and our own countries if these principles are tossed aside."

“Putin miscalculated the resolve of the Ukrainians,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “The Ukrainian people have demonstrated loud and clear: They will never accept being subjugated to Russian rule.”

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia defended the referendums, claiming that more than 100 international observers from Italy, Germany, Venezuela and Latvia who observed the voting recognized the outcomes as legitimate.

“The results of the referendums speak for themselves. The residents of these regions do not want to return to Ukraine. They have made a an informed and free choice in favor of our country,” he said.

Nebenzia added: “There will be no turning back as today’s draft resolution would try to impose.”

He accused Western nations on the council of “openly hostile actions,” saying they reached “a new low” by putting forward a resolution condemning a council member and forcing a Russian veto so they can “wax lyrical.”

Under a resolution adopted earlier this year, Russia must defend its veto before the General Assembly in the coming weeks.

Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun said that “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be safeguarded.” But China abstained, he said, because it believes the Security Council should be using trying to calm the crisis “rather than intensifying conflicts and exacerbating confrontation.”

Brazil’s ambassador, Ronaldo Costa Filho, said the referendums “cannot be perceived as legitimate” and his country stands by the principle of territorial integrity of sovereign states. But it abstained because the resolution didn't contribute to de-escalating tensions and finding “a solution for the conflict in Ukraine," he said.



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