Get Adobe Flash player

Daily Archives: August 28, 2008

Hurricane Gustav kills five in Haiti, aims at Cuba


Hurricane Gustav slammed into Haiti Tuesday, killing at least five as it lashed the desperately poor Caribbean nation with powerful winds and heavy rain, just days behind deadly Tropical Storm Fay.
Gustav, a Category One hurricane — the lowest on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale — was headed next toward Jamaica and Cuba, then into the Gulf of Mexico on the weekend, where it could threaten offshore oil rigs.
That threat led to a spike in the price of oil.
At least five people died and seven were injured in southeast Haiti as roofs flew off houses and electricity pylons were ripped away by violent winds, authorities said late Tuesday.
"Two people died in the southeast when their houses collapsed," Alta Jean-Baptiste, director of Haiti's civil protection office, said.
Two others died and seven were seriously injured in an explosion in a house thought to be linked to the storm, said Jean Michel Sabbat, a local official.
One other died in unclear circumstances.
Gustav was packing sustained winds of 150 kilometres per hour, with higher gusts, the Miami-based National Hurricane Centre said in a statement.
Haitian authorities issued a red alert across the country and cancelled all flights and maritime traffic.
Fay, which pummelled the Caribbean last week, left at least 47 people dead or missing, most of them in Haiti. The storm killed 11 more people in Florida.
At 0700 Macau time yesterday, the centre of Gustav was located about 100 kilometres west of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, and was moving in a northwestern direction at around 11 kilometres per hour, the NHC said in its latest advisory.
Gustav remains a hurricane over southern Haiti and heavy rainfall continues across most of the island of Hispaniola, it said.
The hurricane was expected to dump between four and 10 to 20 centimetres of rain on Hispaniola — shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic — as well as eastern Cuba and Jamaica.
It was expected to move near or just south of eastern Cuba yesterday, where a hurricane warning remained in place.
Cuban forecasters said they expected Gustav to be at least a Category Two hurricane by the time it reached the island yesterday afternoon.
Authorities there urged residents to take "protective measures" but former leader Fidel Castro said in a newspaper article that Cuba was prepared for the storm.
"A strong, energetic and far-sighted Civil Defence protects our people and offers them more security from disasters than in the United States," the 82-year-old said.
Meanwhile, oil prices climbed in part due to the potential threat to US energy facilities in the Gulf, traders said.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in October, climbed 1.16 dollars to close at 116.27 dollars a barrel.
In London, Brent North Sea crude for October added 60 cents to settle at 114.63 dollars.
"Gustav continues to represent a potential threat to oil and gas installations in the Gulf region," warned Barclays Capital analysts in a note to clients.
Anglo-Dutch energy giant Royal Dutch Shell said it was planning to evacuate some staff from its Gulf facilities because of Gustav.
"Given the current track for Gustav and the expectation that it might enter the Gulf of Mexico this weekend, we are making logistical arrangements to evacuate staff who are not essential to production or drilling operations," Shell said in a statement.
"Evacuations could begin as early as [yesterday]. There is no impact on production at this time."
The Haitian government meanwhile urged its population to take precautions and appealed for international help to deal with the storm's aftermath.
The Dominican Republic also issued a hurricane warning for the southwest of the country. Officials there ordered 4,600 people to leave flood-prone areas.
Gustav formed over the Caribbean Sea on Monday, becoming the seventh tropical storm of the June-November 2008 Atlantic hurricane season .




Fifth arrest over alleged plot to kill British PM

British police have arrested a fifth man over a suspected plot to assassinate Prime Minister Gordon Brown, they said yesterday.
The 29-year-old suspect was detained Tuesday under anti-terrorism legislation in Derby, central England, where detectives searched a property.
Four other men are already in custody: three were arrested at Manchester Airport and Acrrington in northwest England on August 14, while another was detained in nearby Blackburn on Tuesday.
Police sources say the arrests are linked to a probe into threats to kill Brown. While no concrete planning was in place, there were calls for the British premier's death on an extremist jihad website in January.
Media reports have said the first three arrests were made after a group calling itself Al-Qaeda in Britain posted a statement on a jihadi website which also demanded the withdrawal of British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The men detained at Manchester Airport were preparing to fly to Finland, according to press reports which added that British police have travelled to Scandinavia as part of their investigation.
Officers have until today to charge or release the trio arrested on August 14, or seek a further extension of their custody time-limit.