Mother and baby among five dead as Hurricane Florence wreaks havoc on US east coast

Thousands of people living near North Carolina's rising rivers were ordered evacuated overnight as hurricane-turned-tropical storm Florence practically parked itself over land and poured on the rain, raising fears that the state could be in for the most destructive flooding in its history.

The death toll climbed to at least five.

It's feared the US state could be in for its most destructive flooding in its history. Source: Associated Press

A day after Florence blew ashore in North Carolina with 145 kmp/h winds, Coast Guard officials reported using helicopters to lift scores of people from rooftops and swamped cars near the shoreline, and rescue crews used inflatable boats to reach others trapped in their submerged homes.

More than 2 feet of rain had fallen in places, and the drenching went on and on, with forecasters saying there could be an additional 1½ feet by the end of the weekend.

Authorities evacuate a family from rising waters caused by Florence, now a tropical storm, on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 in New Bern, N.C.  (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed)
Source: Associated Press

Rivers and creeks rose toward record levels, threatening flash flooding that could devastate communities and endanger dams, roads and bridges.

"I cannot overstate it: Floodwaters are rising, and if you aren't watching for them you are risking your life," Gov. Roy Cooper said.

As of 2 p.m (local time0, Florence was centered about 85 kilometres west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, inching west at 6 kmp/h — about as fast as a person walks. Its winds were down to 75 kmp/h. With half of the storm still out over the Atlantic, Florence continued to collect warm ocean water and dump it on land.

In its initial onslaught along the coast, Florence buckled buildings, deluged entire communities and knocked out power to more than 900,000 homes and businesses. But the storm was shaping up as a two-part disaster, with the second, delayed-action stage consisting of epic inland flooding, caused by rainwater working its way into rivers and streams.

Rescue team member Sgt. Nick Muhar, from the North Carolina National Guard 1/120th battalion, evacuates a young child as the rising floodwaters from Hurricane Florence threatens his home in New Bern, N.C., on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)
Source: Associated Press

Authorities ordered an immediate evacuation of an estimated 2,800 homes within a mile of a stretch of the Cape Fear River, plus a section of the Little River, because of what they said was imminent danger from floodwaters. The evacuation zone included part of the city of Fayetteville, with a population of 200,000.

Officials in North Carolina's Harnett County, urged residents of about 1,100 homes to clear out because the Lower Little River was rising toward record levels.

In New Bern, along the coast, homes were completely surrounded by water, and rescuers used inflatable boats to reach people. More than 360 people had been carried to safety since Friday.

Kevin Knox and his family were rescued from their flooded brick home with the help of Army Sgt. Johan Mackie, part of a team that was using a phone app to locate people in distress. Mackie rode in a boat through a flooded neighborhood, navigating through trees and past a fencepost to get to the Knox house.

"Amazing. They did awesome," said Knox, who was stranded with seven others, including a boy who was carried out in a life vest. "If not we'd be stuck upstairs for the next ... how long? I have no idea."

Robert Simmons Jr. and his kitten "Survivor" are rescued from floodwaters after Hurricane Florence dumped several inches of rain in the area overnight, Friday, Sept. 14, 2018 in New Bern, N.C.  (Andrew Carter/The News & Observer via AP)
Source: Associated Press

Across the Trent River from New Bern, Jerry and Jan Andrews returned home after evacuating to find carp flopping in their backyard near the porch stairs.

Across the street, Coast Guard helicopters were taking off to rescue stranded people. Coast Guardsmen said choppers had made about 50 rescues in and around New Bern and Jacksonville as of noon.

Authorities evacuate a family from rising waters caused by Florence, now a tropical storm, on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 in New Bern, N.C.  (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed)
Authorities evacuate a family from rising waters caused by Florence, now a tropical storm Source: Associated Press

Along the Lumber River in Lumberton, workers used heavy machinery to dump extra sand on a railbed prone to flooding. Flooding forced the shutdown of a 16-mile (26-kilometer) stretch of Interstate 95, the main highway along the Eastern Seaboard.

The dead included a mother and baby killed when a tree fell on a house in Wilmington, North Carolina. South Carolina recorded its first death from the storm when officials said a 61-year-old woman was killed when her vehicle hit a tree that had fallen across a highway.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence broke a North Carolina rainfall record that had stood for almost 20 years: Preliminary reports showed Swansboro got over 30 inches and counting, eclipsing the mark set in 1999, when Hurricane Floyd dropped just over 24 inches on the state.

As of noon, Emerald Isle had over 23 inches of rain, and Wilmington and Goldsboro had about a foot. North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, had around 7 inches.

The hurricane centre said the storm will eventually break up over the southern Appalachians and make a sharp rightward swing to the northeast, its rainy remnants moving into the mid-Atlantic states and New England by the middle of next week.

North Carolina alone is forecast to get 36 trillion litres, enough to cover the Tar Heel state to a depth of about 25 centimetres.

Water passes though a breach in the dune line on Hwy 12 between Frisco and Hatteras Village, N.C., Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (Steve Earley /The Virginian-Pilot via AP)
Water passes though a breach in the dune line on Hwy 12 between Frisco and Hatteras Village, N.C Source: Associated Press

A sailboat is shoved up against a house and a collapsed garage Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, after heavy wind and rain from Florence, now a tropical storm, blew through New Bern, N.C. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
A sailboat is shoved up against a house and a collapsed garage in Bern, North Carolina. Source: Associated Press



Child predator jailed for luring Australian girl to US

An American child predator who built a relationship with a 16-year-old Australian girl over Facebook and then enticed her to fly to Los Angeles so he could sexually abuse her has been sentenced to 35 years' jail in New York.

Sean Price, 40, from Queens, New York, began communicating with the girl in 2016 on Facebook, and in their daily messages he openly discussed the girl's young age and expressed his desire to have sex with her.

Price initially discussed obtaining a fake passport for the girl so she could fly to the US without her parents' knowledge, and talked about imitating her father to get her through airport security.

When the girl told him she did not need parental permission to fly internationally Price responded in a chat they would soon be laughing at her parents and asked: "So you coming to papa?"

US Homeland Security Investigations special agent-in-charge Angel Melendez said Price took advantage of the girl.

"Now a convicted sexual predator, Sean Price admittedly lured a teenage girl from Australia to Queens, taking advantage of her young spirit and susceptibility," Melendez said.

In March, 2017, Price wired the girl more than $US900 (NZ$1,346) to purchase a plane ticket, and a few weeks later the girl flew on a round trip ticket from Sydney to Los Angeles.

Price was waiting for her in Los Angeles and they hired a rental car and drove across the US to Price's home in Jamaica, Queens.

Price admitted they had sex during the cross-country trip and while in New York until a search involving NSW Police, Australian Federal Police and US authorities tracked the girl down four weeks later at his home in Queens.

The girl's mother recounted in a submission to the US District Court the trauma her daughter suffered and how her family continued to struggle with the aftermath of Price's actions.

Price was found guilty at a December 2017 trial in New York of charges including interstate and foreign enticement to engage in sexual activity and attempted sexual exploitation of a child.

Richard Donoghue, US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, expressed his appreciation to NSW Police, the AFP and NYPD for their assistance in the investigation and recovering the missing girl.

"Sean Price preyed upon the vulnerabilities of a young teenage girl, luring her across the world and away from her home for his own illicit purposes," Donoghue said.

The new courts in Auckland and Whangārei have been active for the past 18 months.
Source: 1 NEWS

TODAY'S
TOP STORIES

Octopuses given ecstasy become more social and try to hug each other, new study finds

Octopuses given the drug ecstasy become more social and try to hug each other, a new study has found.

US Researchers at Johns Hopkins University say the drug affects the creatures in a similar way to humans.

Scientists say the way they behave on the drug may give insights into how their social behaviour has evolved.

Ecstasy also known as MDMA is a powerful mood changing drug which affects the human brain with a chemical called serotonin.

Serotonin is a drug that makes people more sociable.

Gul Dolen, a neuroscientist at John Hopkins University School of Medicine who led the study, designed an experiment with three connected water chambers.

One containing a trapped octopus and the other a plastic toy.

Four other octopuses were placed inside the tank to test their response.

The researchers measured how long they spent with the other animal and how long with the toy.

They were then exposed with the liquefied version of MDMA, which they absorbed through their gills and placed in the chambers again.

The study found that all four spent more time in the area with the other octopus than they had before the drugs.

"They tended to hug the cage and put their mouth parts on the cage," Professor Dolen told the BBC.

"This is very similar to how humans react to MDMA; they touch each other frequently."

The findings suggest brain chemicals may be key to social behaviour across very different species.

However, other researchers have raised questions about the study.

Professor Harriet de Wit from the University of Chicago, who has studied how ecstasy affects animals, said it was "innovative and exciting" - but that we can't be certain the drugs were fully responsible.

Ideally, the experiment would be repeated on a larger scale, the researchers agreed.

And some of the octopuses would be placed in the tank for the first time after absorbing ecstasy, and others would not.

Prof de Wit said that would help rule out the idea that they were friendlier the second time because they'd got used to the tank, or the other octopus.

ecstasy being handed over at a house party..
Source: istock.com


Topics

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

Hong Kong opens high-speed rail link with mainland China

Hong Kong yesterday opened a new high-speed rail link to mainland China that will vastly decrease travel times but also raises concerns about Beijing's creeping influence over the semi-autonomous Chinese region.

Costing upward of US$10 billion and taking more than eight years to build, the system aims to transport more than 80,000 passengers daily between the Asian financial centre of seven million people and the neighbouring manufacturing hub of Guangdong province.

The train travels the 26 kilometred through Hong Kong to Shenzhen across the border in China in just 14 minutes, down from about one hour.

The through-train to Guangdong's capital Guangzhou will take just over half an hour, about 90 minutes faster than the current service.

Once across the border, passengers can link up with Chinese sprawling nationwide high-speed rail network serving more than 44 destinations, including Shanghai, Beijing and the western city of Xi'an.

Passengers will clear Chinese immigration at the line's newly built West Kowloon terminus, the source of major legal controversy when it was revealed that mainland Chinese law would apply within roughly one-quarter of the station's area.

Some opposition lawmakers argued the move would be a violation of the Basic Law, Hong Kong's mini-constitution under which it retained its own legal system and civil liberties after reverting from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

That guarantees Hong Kong the right to maintain rights such as freedom of speech and assembly - which are routinely violated on the mainland - until 2047.

Legal matters related to defence, foreign affairs and national security fall under Beijing purview.

However, Beijing's tight control over the city's politics and a continuing crackdown on politicians calling for greater economy and democratic reforms have spurred worries about an erosion of Hong Kong's remaining autonomy.

The Hong Kong legislature's passage in June of the plan to allow Chinese law to apply at the railway terminus was a significant moment for the opposition, coming four years after mass street protests demanding reforms fizzled out amid Beijing's intransigence.

Pro-democracy legislators have been expelled and charges brought against more than 100 protesters.

Supporters of the provision, including the territory's Beijing-backed Chief Executive Carrie Lam, defended it as promoting speed and convenience.

It cost upward of US$10 billion and took more than eight years to build. Source: Associated Press


Topics


Thousands rally across Russia against raising pension ages

Several thousand people attended a Moscow rally organised by the Communist Party and other leftist groups, which was authorised by city officials.

Communist Party chief Gennady Zyuganov called for rolling back the proposed changes, arguing that the government should redistribute resources to avoid raising the pension age.

"They keep reaching into your pockets," he told protesters, who waved red flags.

The government's plan to lift the retirement age to 65 for men and 60 for women has irked a wide range of Russians from all political factions.

Older Russians fear they won't live long enough to collect significant benefits while younger generations are worried that keeping people in the workforce longer will limit their own employment opportunities.

The proposal has also dented President Vladimir Putin's popularity.

Dmitry Orlov, who came to Moscow from his home city of Kostroma to join the rally, denounced the Russian government's move as a "robbery."

"It can't be that our country doesn't have money for its people, the people who spend their whole lives working and paying deductions for their pensions," he said.

Similar protests were also held Saturday in many cities across Russia's 11 time zones, most of them sanctioned by authorities.

Several hundred demonstrators rallied against the pension age hike in Sevastopol in Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

"This is a very serious issue for me, because it touches upon my life, my children, my parents who haven't retired yet," said Olga Konitskaya, 30, a protester in Sevastopol.

The demonstrations went on peacefully, unlike a wave of unauthorised pension protests earlier this month organised by opposition leader Alexei Navalny that led to the detention of over 1,000 people across Russia.


Navalny, the anti-corruption activist who is Putin's most visible foe, had called for protests against the pension age hike before he was sentenced to 30 days in jail for organising a January protest over a different issue.


He is set to be released from custody Monday.

Putin has responded to the protests by offering some concessions, but argued that the age hike is necessary because rising life expectancies in Russia could exhaust the nation's pension resources if the eligibility age remains the same.

The Kremlin-controlled lower house, the State Duma has given only a preliminary approval to the pension changes bill and is yet to hold a decisive second reading.

Protest (file picture).
Protest (file picture). Source: 1 NEWS


Topics