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Daily Archives: August 18, 2008

Tropical storm Fay moves toward Cuba

Tropical storm Fay bore down on Cuba early yesterday, after barreling across the Dominican Republic and Haiti and leaving two people dead and four missing there.
In the Dominican Republic one person was killed and three were missing due to the heavy rains, while thousands of people were evacuated to avoid the storm, local media reported.
In Haiti, the heavy rains killed one person in the north and another was missing in the south, civil protection officials said.
Winds from the sixth storm of the Atlantic hurricane season were clocked at 85 kilometres per hour, the Miami-based US national Hurricane Centre said.
But, the centre said in its latest report, "some strengthening is forecast during the next 24 hours and Fay could be approaching hurricane strength when it reaches Central Cuba."
At 1700 Macau time, the centre of storm was located about 200 kilometres south-southeast of Camaguey, Cuba.
Fay was moving toward the west at 20 kilometre per hour.
The NHS forecasts it will skirt the island's southern coast, then the western tip of Cuba, before intensifying possibly to hurricane strength — with sustained winds at least 120 kilometre an hour. It will be near or over western Cuba late yesterday or today.
After crossing Cuba, Fay is then expected to head up the west coast of Florida, hitting land near Tampa tomorrow afternoon and moving straight north into Georgia.
A hurricane watch was declared in the Florida Keys, and a tropical storm watch was in effect on the southeast coast of Florida.
With the storm expected to gather strength, Havana began evacuating its citizen from the coastal areas that are expected to be affected by the storm.
In Miami, residents began descending on gas stations and supermarkets to fill up their gas tanks and stock up on bottled water and other emergency items in anticipation of Fay's arrival early next week.
Local television stations broadcast warnings about possible business shutdowns and power cuts.
In the Dominican Republic, a woman drowned in a swollen creek and her two nephews and another person were missing, the Listin Diario newspaper said on its website.
More than 2,000 Dominicans were evacuated to shelters as the storm felled trees, damaged hundreds of houses and knocked out power to more than 15,000 homes, according to local news reports.
Fay, earlier, raked across Haiti, which shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, and red alerts were posted along with orders to evacuate flood zones as heavy rains and winds battered much of the country.
"Most of Haiti is under heavy rains, especially in the south, with winds clocked at about 70 kilometres per hour," Ronald Semelfort, an official with Haiti's meteorological service, said.
"A person was killed in the city of Fond-Verettes and another was missing in the southern part of the country where local authorities have begun evacuating areas at risk" from flooding, Civilian Protection Agency director Alta Jean-Baptiste said.

Five in Sudan court over murder of US diplomat

Five suspects appeared in court in Sudan yesterday in connection with the New Year's Day killing of a US diplomat and his driver that sent shockwaves through the Western community in Khartoum.
The preliminary hearing at the Khartoum eastern court lasted just minutes and was also attended by American embassy personnel amid a heavy Sudanese security presence outside, said a correspondent and photographer.
Judge Said Ahmed al-Badri read out the names and ages of the five Sudanese men, aged between 23 and 35, as they stood in the dock.
He then adjourned legal proceedings until August 31 on the grounds that there was no lawyer present representing the families of either victim.
John Granville, 33, who worked for the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and his 40-year-old Sudanese driver Abdel Rahman Abbas were hit in their car by a hail of bullets before dawn on New Year's Day.
Federal Bureau of Investigation officers from the United States helped to investigate the killings.
A group calling itself Ansar al-Tawhid claimed the killing in a statement posted on a militant website on January 4.
The organisation said the attack was in response to attempts to raise the banner of Christianity over Sudan, according to the US-based SITE intelligence group that monitors Islamist websites.
SITE did not give more details about the group, whose claim could not be authenticated. But variations of its name, which means "Partisans of Oneness" (of God) have been used by Islamist extremists abroad, including in Iraq.
Relations between Sudan and the United States have traditionally been strained, most recently over the five-year conflict in the western region of Darfur where Washington has accused Khartoum of genocide.
USAID is the leading international donor to Sudan and has contributed more than two billion dollars for humanitarian programmes there, including Darfur, and eastern Chad since 2004.