Monster Hurricane Florence nears Carolina coast as fleeing residents strike empty petrol stations

Coastal residents fleeing a potentially devastating blow from Hurricane Florence encountered empty gasoline pumps and depleted store shelves as the monster storm neared the Carolina coast with 225 km/h winds and drenching rain that could last for days.

While some said they planned to stay put despite hurricane watches and warnings that include the homes of more than 5.4 million people on the US East Coast, many weren't taking any chances.

A steady stream of vehicles full of people and belongings flowed inland on Tuesday (Weds NZT), and North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper tried to convince everyone to flee.

"The waves and the wind this storm may bring is nothing like you've ever seen. Even if you've ridden out storms before, this one is different. Don't bet your life on riding out a monster," he said.

Forecasters said Florence was expected to blow ashore late Thursday or early Friday local time, then slow down and dump 0.3 to 0.6 metres of rain that could cause flooding well inland and wreak environmental havoc by washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms.

President Donald Trump declared states of emergency for North and South Carolina and Virginia, opening the way for federal aid. He said the federal government is "absolutely, totally prepared" for Florence.

All three states ordered mass evacuations along the coast. But getting out of harm's way could prove difficult.

Florence is so wide that a life-threatening storm surge was being pushed 485 kilometres ahead of its eye, and so wet that a swath from South Carolina to Ohio and Pennsylvania could get deluged.

People across the region rushed to buy bottled water and other supplies, board up their homes, pull their boats out of the water and get out of town.

At 2am (Weds evening NZT), the storm was centered 1,005 km southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, moving at 28 km/h. It was a potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm but was expected to keep drawing energy from the warm water and intensify to near Category 5, which means winds of 253 km/h or higher.

Florence is the most dangerous of three tropical systems in the Atlantic. Tropical Storm Isaac was east of the Lesser Antilles and expected to pass south of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba, while Hurricane Helene was moving northward away from land. Forecasters also were tracking two other disturbances.

Described as a monster, the eye of Hurricane Florence continues to grow. Source: 1 NEWS



Plane makes emergency landing in Boston after engine issue leads to smoke and gas-like odour filling cabin

An engine-related issue forced an Iberia Airways flight en route to Madrid to make and emergency landing at Boston's Logan Airport.

The Boston Globe reports an Iberia Airways spokeswoman says the plane landed without incident and there were no injuries to any of the 265 passengers.

The flight originated Tuesday around 9:15pm (local time) at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The spokeswoman said about 90 minutes into the flight crew members noticed an engine-related issue. The plane landed safely in Boston.

Melissa Miller, of New York, says she was on the flight and that passengers "knew something was up" when a smoke and gas-like odour filled the cabin.

Miller said passengers were bussed back to New York to re-book flights.

Massport and FAA officials did not respond to requests for comment.

There have been delays at Auckland Airport
Plane (file). Source: 1 NEWS


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Indian man told police how he befriended truck drivers then murdered them and sold their vehicles and goods

Indian police have arrested a 48-year-old man who they say has confessed to killing 33 truck drivers and their helpers over the past decade, then selling the vehicles and the goods they were carrying.

The man was arrested two weeks ago near the central town of Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh state, police officer Rahul Kumar Lodha said Wednesday.

Police stumbled across the man's name as they investigated a string of recent murders of truck drivers in Madhya Pradesh.

While the man was apparently not connected to those killings, some of the seven men arrested told police they had helped him in similar robberies.

The man told police he would befriend drivers in roadside eateries and slip drugs into their food so they would fall asleep, Lodha said.

He would then drive their trucks to isolated areas, strangle them and their helpers, and dump the bodies in forests.

He and his accomplices would then sell the trucks and their goods, Lodha said.

Indian drivers often travel with assistants who help clean their trucks, change tires and other chores.

Dharmendra Choudhary, another police officer in Madhya Pradesh state, said the suspect was arrested in western Maharashtra state some years ago in connection with similar robberies, but was freed on bail and fled.

Between robberies, he worked as a tailor in a small shop in Mandideep, a village on the outskirts of Bhopal.

Truck
Truck Source: istock.com

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Putin says Russia have identified suspects in UK poisoning saga

President Vladimir Putin said today that Russia has identified the two men that Britain named as suspects in the poisoning of a former Russian spy, and that there is "nothing criminal" about them.

Britain last week charged two alleged agents of Russia's military intelligence agency in absentia with the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

Britain blames the Russian government for the attack, a claim that Moscow has vehemently denied.

Speaking at a panel of an economic conference in Russia's Far East Putin insisted they do not work for the military.

"We know who these people are, we have found them," Putin said. "There is nothing special or criminal about it, I can assure you."

Asked by the panel's moderator if the men work for the military, Putin replied that they are "civilians" and called on the men to come forward.

"I would like to call on them so that they can hear us today: They should go to some media outlet. I hope they will come forward and tell about themselves."

After the Skripals were poisoned March 4, Britain and more than two dozen other countries expelled a total of 150 Russian spies working under diplomatic cover. Russia kicked out a similar number of those countries' envoys.

Dawn Sturgess and her partner are believed to have fallen ill after touching a contaminated item, four months after the poisoning of a Russian spy. Source: 1 NEWS

British Prime Minister Theresa May said the use of a chemical weapon in the city of Salisbury, which left a British woman dead and four people, including Skripal and his daughter, seriously ill, was carried out by officers of the GRU intelligence service and almost certainly approved "at a senior level of the Russian state."

Police say there is enough evidence to charge to pair. Source: 1 NEWS


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Apple expected to unveil bigger, pricier iPhone tomorrow

Apple is expected to unveil its biggest and most expensive iPhone tomorrow as part of a lineup of three new models aimed at widening the product's appeal amid slowing sales growth.

Most of the buzz is swirling around a rumoured iPhone that is supposed to boast a 6.5-inch OLED screen, up from 5.8 inches on the existing iPhone X.

OLED is a step up from traditional LCD technology in offering a display without a backlight, so black is truly black rather than simply dark.

If the speculation pans out, the even-bigger iPhone would represent Apple's attempt to feed consumers' appetite for increasingly bigger screens as they rely on smartphones to watch and record video, as well as take photos wherever they are.

The iPhone X, a dramatically redesigned model released last fall, got rid of the home button and introduced facial-recognition technology to unlock the device. It was the first mass-market smartphone to demand a $US1,000 starting price.

Although the iPhone X didn't fulfill analysts' lofty sales expectations, it fared well enough for Apple to up the ante with the bigger model, whose price is expected to unveil Wednesday.

Apple also is expected to release an iPhone with minor updates to last year's model and another version made of cheaper materials, including a 6.1-inch LCD screen.

Even so, the cheaper iPhone is still expected to sell for $US650 to $US750. The cheaper phone also is expected to lose the home button. Price cuts for older models, with the home button, are also likely.

Names for the new devices aren't known. The company may also announce a new smartwatch. Apple didn't comment ahead of Wednesday's event, which is being held at its Cupertino, California, headquarters.

By making more expensive iPhones, Apple has been able to boost its profits despite waning demand as people upgrade phones less frequently.  

During the second quarter, which is typically slow for Apple, China's Huawei Technologies surpassed Apple as the second-largest seller of smartphones, based on Gartner's calculations. Samsung remained in the lead.

A man holds an iPhone mobile phone handset.
A man holds an iPhone mobile phone handset. Source: File Image


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