threatening storm surges in both North and South Carolina as the hurricane moves towards land with maximum sustained wind speeds of 90mph (150 km/h). More than 100,000 homes are already without power as weather conditions begin to worsen. Officials have warned the storm has the potential to kill "a lot of people" amid risks of "catastrophic" flooding. More than a million people along the coastlines of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have been ordered to evacuate. Thousands had taken shelter in emergency facilities by Thursday night. Photographs showed residents crowded into corridors with blankets on inflatable mattresses and mats. Conditions deteriorated throughout Thursday as wind speeds gradually strengthened in coastal areas. Some areas of North Carolina saw almost a foot of rain just a few hours, and footage showed sea levels begin to surge in land. At 23:00 local time (03:00 GMT) the National Hurricane Centre said wind speeds had slightly lowered, making it a category one hurricane. The National Hurricane Centre (NHC) says that despite the gradual lowering in wind strength, the storm remains extremely dangerous because of the high volume of rainfall and storm surges predicted. "Inland flooding kills a lot of people unfortunately and that's what we're about to see," Fema administrator Brock Long told a news conference on Thursday morning. He said that people living near rivers, streams and lowland areas in the region were most at risk. [i]Source: BBC[/i]
A strong typhoon tore through the northern tip of the Philippines on Saturday packing winds of more than 200 kph (124 mph) along with torrential rain, killing three people and causing floods, landslides and power outages. Mangkhut entered the Philippines as a super typhoon in the early hours, and sent winds and rains across the entire main island of Luzon, home to about half the country's 105 million people. Known locally as Ompong, Typhoon Mangkhut at one point had maximum gusts of 305 kph (190 mph) before it exited the land area before noon and moved toward southern China and Vietnam with reduced wind speeds of 170 kph (106 mph). Two rescue workers were killed while trying to free people trapped in a landslide in the mountainous Cordillera region, said Ricardo Jalad, head of the nation's disaster agency. No further details were provided. Police also said a body had been found in a river in Manila. Philippine state weather agency PAGASA downgraded the domestic threat level, but warned the danger was far from over, with continued storm surges and heavy rains that could trigger floods and more landslides. "We are asking the people to remain alert and continue taking precautions," said PAGASA meteorologist Rene Paciente. Rapid response teams were on stand by with the air force for search and rescue missions as authorities undertook damage assessments in areas in the path of the storm, which felled trees, electricity poles and tore off shop signs and sheet metal roofs hundreds of kilometers away. There was flooding in several provinces and parts of the capital Manila. Authorities were preparing to release water from several dams, fearing constant rains could push reservoirs to dangerously high levels. Mangkhut had been a category 5 storm for days since wreaking havoc in U.S. Pacific territories of Micronesia before edging toward the Philippines, where it is the 15th and strongest storm this year. The typhoon's peak winds were stronger than those of Hurricane Florence, which killed five people in the United States after it piled into the Carolinas knocking down trees, and gorging rivers and causing major power outages before it was downgraded to a tropical storm. Some 105,000 people were staying in temporary shelters after mass evacuation of coastal areas of the Philippines following major storm surge warnings. Authorities in some areas of northern Luzon turned off power as a precaution, and said some residents in high-risk areas chose to ride out the storm to protect homes from looters. More than 1,000 houses were impacted in Cagayan province, where the storm first made landfall, with authorities in the town of Baggao saying they had lost contact with an emergency response team, said Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. Rogelio Sending, a government official in Cagayan said there were provincewide power and communication outages and reports of uprooted trees blocking roads. "This makes the clearing operations really difficult," he said by phone. The Philippines is still haunted by the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 6,300 people in central areas of the country in 2013, most due to huge storm surges. But authorities say they were better prepared this time in terms of evacuating and informing high-risk communities. "I talked to the president last night. His clear and concise marching order was 'Save lives, save lives,'" said Francis Tolentino, the government's disaster response coordinator and adviser to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Renato Solidum, a senior official at the Science and Technology department, said people in northern Luzon experienced a super typhoon in 2016 and were not caught off guard. "There has been an aggressive information dissemination to prepare well," he said. "Because the people had experienced a super typhoon only recently, they really had imagination about what happened before and that they really need to be prepared."
Fifty two people, including several women and children, were killed, and more than 20 suffered injuries on Tuesday morning when a Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) bus plunged into a gorge on the Kondagattu ghat road in Jagtial district. The bus, belonging to the Jagtial depot, had more than 60 passengers, who reportedly came to the hillock temple at Kondagattu. It was going from Shanivarampeta village to Jagtial via the Kondagattu ghat road and Muthyampet villages when the accident happened. More than two dozen passengers died on the spot and bodies of seven children have been recovered. The bus was overcrowded, eyewitness accounts said. Initial reports said the bus driver lost control of the vehicle at the third sharp curve, resulting in the bus plunging into the gorge. Most of the passengers lost balance and fell on the right side of the bus leading to the accident. Many due to suffocation as they fell on one another. Some four-wheelers following the bus stopped and launched a rescue operation with the help of the locals. The severely injured were rushed to the Jagtial Area Hospital for treatment. The condition of close to a dozen passengers was said to be critical and death toll is likely to go up, reports said. Jagtial Collector A. Sharath, SP Sindhu Sharma and Karimnagar Police Commissioner Kamalhasan Reddy, and other officials reached the spot and shifted the injured to the Jagtial hospital. The bodies have been shifted to the hospital pending post mortem.
Japan has been hit by its strongest typhoon in 25 years, causing at least 10 deaths and 200 injuries. Typhoon Jebi made landfall in western areas, bringing heavy rain and reports of winds up to 172km/h (107mph). In Osaka Bay it swept a tanker into a bridge and in Kyoto parts of a railway station roof came down. Officials ordered more than a million people in affected areas to evacuate their homes amid warnings of high waves, flooding and mudslides. It has already left tens of thousands without power and authorities have urged people to move to safety. The storm made landfall on Shikoku island around noon on Tuesday local time and then moved across Japan's largest main island of Honshu. It is expected to weaken as it moves north. Jebi is the first typhoon classed as "very strong" by the country's weather agency to make landfall on Japan's main islands since a typhoon left 48 people dead or missing in 1993, Kyodo reports. Hundreds of flights, trains and ferries have had to be cancelled. Flooding covered the runways at Kansai International Airport in Osaka, which is built on a man-made island in a bay. Universal Studios Japan, a popular amusement park near Osaka, was closed.
The US military says it is cancelling $300m (£230m) in aid to Pakistan over what it calls Islamabad's failure to take action against militant groups. President Donald Trump has previously accused Pakistan of deceiving the US while receiving billions of dollars. Pentagon spokesman Lt Col Koné Faulkner said the US military would aim to spend the money on other "urgent priorities". The move, which needs to be approved by US Congress, is part of a broader suspension announced in January. The US state department has criticised Pakistan, a key ally, for failing to deal with terrorist networks operating on its soil, including the Haqqani network and the Afghan Taliban. "We continue to press Pakistan to indiscriminately target all terrorist groups," Col Faulkner said in a statement on Saturday, adding that the $300m aid - which had earlier been suspended - should be used elsewhere due to "a lack of Pakistani decisive actions" in tackling the issue. The announcement comes just days before US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to visit Pakistan to meet the country's new prime minister, Imran Khan. In January, the US government announced it was cutting almost all security aid to the country. The US and others have long complained that Pakistan provides a safe haven to militant networks, allowing them to carry out cross-border attacks in Afghanistan - something that Islamabad denies. [i]Agencies[/i]
A senior Vatican official called on Pope Francis to resign, accusing the pontiff of failing to act sooner on sexual abuse allegations against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. In an 11-page statement, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano said sanctions imposed on McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI over sexual misconduct were lifted under Francis, despite reports about his "gravely immoral behaviour with seminarians and priests". Vigano said he informed Francis in person in 2013 of the sanctions and how McCarrick, ex-archbishop of Washington, DC, "corrupted generations of seminarians and priests". Pope Francis "continued to cover" for McCarrick despite the sanctions and even made him "his trusted counsellor", Vigano alleged. "In this extremely dramatic moment for the universal church, he must acknowledge his mistakes and, in keeping with the proclaimed principle of zero tolerance, Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example for cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick's abuses and resign along with all of them," he said. The Vatican had no immediate comment on the allegations. Vigano, 77, a conservative whose hardline anti-gay views are well known, has long been seen as a critic of Pope Francis, who is viewed as more moderate. His letter also contained a lengthy diatribe about homosexuality and liberals in the Catholic Church. Colm O'Gorman, an author, activist, and church abuse survivor, said the letter from Vigano was a "fairly shocking development". "In the 2,000-year history of the church, no senior church official has ever come out and called on a pope to resign," O'Gorman said. "I think we need to be careful because Vigano has an agenda of his own. There's an ideological battle going on inside the church - that's part of what's at play here… I am surprised it's emerged from such a high level within the hierarchy of the church. But it's something the Vatican is going to have to respond to." Vigano's criticism came as Pope Francis made a two-day visit to Ireland, where he addressed *** abuse scandals and "begged for God's forgiveness" for the "betrayal" by the church.
A mass shooting at a video game tournament has led to "multiple fatalities" in the US state of Florida, according to police. The shooting took place on Sunday at a waterfront dining, entertainment and shopping site in downtown Jacksonville, according to local media. Citing police sources, reports said 3 people were killed and at least 11 wounded. "We have deceased victims at the scene. We also have injured people at the hospital. We will release counts later on," said Sheriff Mike Williams at a brief press conference, describing the dead suspect as a white male who had yet to be identified. "We have no outstanding suspects at this time, the scene is secure, and we will follow up in a couple of hours." The attack took place during the Madden 19 online game tournament at the GLHF Game Bar, according to the venue's website. The video game tournament was being streamed online from the restaurant. Players can be seen reacting to the gunfire and cries can be heard before the footage cuts off. "SWAT is doing a methodical search inside... We will get to you. Please don't come running out," the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office earlier said on Twitter.
China has said it is "irresponsible" of President Trump to suggest it was not putting enough pressure on North Korea over its nuclear programme. Mr Trump had tweeted that China was "not helping" because of trade tensions with the US. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said this was "contrary to basic facts" and China was "seriously concerned". On Thursday Mr Trump called off US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's planned trip to North Korea. He said that insufficient progress was being made in dismantling Pyongyang's nuclear programme. After his summit with the North Korean leader in June, Mr Trump said the country was no longer a nuclear threat. But since then there have been several reports that it is failing to dismantle its nuclear facilities. One of the most recent warnings came from unnamed US officials, who told the Washington Post that North Korea appeared to be building new intercontinental ballistic missiles. The UN's nuclear agency (IAEA) has also said North Korea is continuing with its nuclear programme. Meanwhile the second in a new series of family reunions for North and South Koreans separated by the war 65 years ago has taken place in a North Korean tourist resort. Some 326 South Koreans from 81 families met their long-lost relatives, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported. Beijing is Pyongyang's only significant ally and Washington's most powerful long-term strategic rival in the region. The two powers are currently embroiled in a ***-for-tat tariff war after Mr Trump complained about the size of the US trade deficit with China and what Washington sees as other unfair trade practices. Each side has now imposed 25% tariffs on a total of $50bn of one another's goods. [i]Source: BBC[/i]
Pakistan's new government has banned the discretionary use of state funds and first-class air travel by officials and leaders, including the president and the prime minister, as part of its austerity drive, reports NDTV. The decisions were made at a Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan yesterday, according to Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry. "It has been decided that all the top government officials, including the president, prime minister, chief justice, senate chairman, speaker national assembly and the chief ministers will travel in club/business," he told media. To a question, Mr Chaudhry said that the Army chief was not allowed first-class travel and always used business class. He said that the discretionary allocation of funds by the prime minister and the president and other officials was also stopped by the Cabinet. Mr Chaudhry claimed that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif used Rs. 51 billion discretionary funds in a year. The prime minister also decided to stop using special plane for foreign visits or domestic travelling and use business class. After his victory in the July 25 general election, Khan decided not to use palatial Prime Minister House and instead live in a small portion of it that was previously used as the residence by the military secretary to the prime minister. Mr Khan also decided to use only two vehicles and keep two servants. He refused to use elaborate official protocol. The Cabinet took up a host of issues, including reverting to six-day working week but decided to continue five-day working after some ministers opposed the idea because it may alienate government servants. The five-day working was instituted in 2011 due to power shortages and save fuels. The Cabinet was briefed that five-day working had not affected the performance or output by the civil servants. While retaining two weekly off-days, the Cabinet changed the official office timings from 8-4 pm to 9-5 pm. The meeting also decided to conduct an audit of all the mega transport projects carried out in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by the previous governments.
More than two million Muslims from around the globe on Monday will climb Mount Arafat for the climax of the hajj, praying and reading the Koran. Tomorrow, the hajj will end with the Eid-ul-Azha feast, which is marked by the slaughter of sheep, a tribute to Abraham’s sacrifice of a lamb after God spared Ishmael, his son. The prophet Mohammed delivered his final sermon from the rocky hill to Muslims who had accompanied him on his final hajj, according to Islam. After sunset, pilgrims head to Muzdalifah, halfway between Arafat and Mina, where they stay at least until midnight. They gather pebbles to perform the symbolic stoning of the devil on the eve of the Eid-ul-Azha feast. More than two million Muslims from around 164 countries yesterday started the hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s largest annual gatherings in a country undergoing unprecedented change. In Mecca, pilgrims performed a ritual walk seven times around the Kaaba, a black masonry cube wrapped in a silk cloth embroidered in gold with Koranic verses at the centre of the Grand Mosque. The shrine is the point towards which Muslims around the world pray. Tens of thousands of security personnel have been deployed for the pilgrimage, which was struck by its worst ever disaster three years ago when around 2,300 worshippers were crushed to death in a stampede. This year, the Saudis have launched a “smart hajj” initiative, with apps to help pilgrims with everything from travel plans to medical care.
Ex-cricket star Imran Khan has taken an early lead as votes are counted in Pakistan's poll, but political rivals allege vote-rigging on a major scale. Early unofficial results suggest his PTI party are in the lead, but it will need to form a coalition if it is unable to secure a simple majority.Results are trickling in slowly, but election officials deny rigging saying there are simply technical problems. Voting day saw bloodshed, with many killed in a blast at a polling station. This historic election will mark only the second time that a civilian government has handed power to another after serving a full term in Pakistan. With 42 per cent of polling stations counted, the Election Commission of Pakistan had Mr Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party leading in 113 of 272 contested National Assembly constituencies, according to Pakistan's Dawn Newspaper. But the party of disgraced former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has weighed in rejecting the results, as have a host of smaller parties, all alleging vote-rigging and manipulation. "The way the people's mandate has blatantly been insulted, it is intolerable," Shehbaz Sharif, leader of the PML-N and brother of the former prime minister. Election officials say delays in releasing the results are simply down to technical failures in the electronic reporting system and the votes are now being counted manually. But any delay to the formation of a government is likely to be a concern for Pakistanis waking up to an unclear result, considering Pakistan's turbulent political history and a brewing economic crisis. Pakistan has a population of nearly 200 million, and is a nuclear-armed rival to India, a key developing economy and one of the world's largest Muslim-majority nations. The country has been ruled on and off by the military during its 71-year history, so this election is significant because it is considered the country's second consecutive democratic transition. The election has been seen as a contest between Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and Mr Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). Mr Sharif, who won the last election, has been jailed for corruption after a scandal stemming from the Panama Papers leak. [i]Source: Agencies[/i]
A blast targeting a police van killed more than 25 people in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Quetta on Wednesday, a hospital spokesman said, as the South Asian nation goes to the vote to choose a new government. The blast happened near a polling station, said a witness in Quetta, capital of Pakistan’s province of Baluchistan, but it was unclear if voting had been disrupted. Television images showed a charred police vehicle, cordoned off by security officials. 24 others were injured in the attack. The bomb disposal squad has also reached the site of the attack after reports that an unexploded grenade has been discovered. Rescue sources said the explosion occurred near a police vehicle on routine patrolling. DIG Abdul Razzak Cheema said the injured have been shifted to Sandeman Provincial Hospital. A state of emergency has been declared at the hospital. The border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan in Chaman, Balochistan was closed by the government on Tuesday for two days in the wake of the general election. Polling across the country for the 11th General Election began at 8am. [i]Source: Agencies[/i]