- Created on 13 November 2013
AP Photo/Bullit Marquez
TACLOBAN, Philippines (AP) -- Two days before the typhoon hit, officials rolled through this city with bullhorns, urging residents to get to higher ground or take refuge in evacuation centers. Warnings were broadcast on state television and radio.
Some left. Some didn't.
Residents steeled themselves for the high winds, floods and mudslides that routinely come with the typhoons that afflict this tropical nation. But virtually no one was prepared for Typhoon Haiyan's storm surge, a 6-meter-high (20-foot-high) wall of water headed straight for them.
"It was supposed to be safe," said Linda Maie, who stayed in her one-room house more than half a kilometer (mile) inland. She had heard the warnings but said her Tacloban (tuk-LOH-ban) neighborhood "has never even flooded in my 61 years."
Her family stocked up on canned food, water and candles and covered their TV, laptops and appliances in plastic bags. But when her 16-year-old daughter, Alexa Wung, awoke at 5 a.m. Friday to howling winds and heavy rain, it was clear that Haiyan was not a typical storm.
The house was shaking. Its wooden door frame and window hinges were banging. Peeking through the windows, Alexa saw doors and screens flying and crashing.
Their neighborhood was coming apart.
Water began seeping in through the doorway as Alexa huddled in the tiny house with her mother and brother. Then it burst through like an explosion, ripping half the door off and quickly flooding the room with knee-high water. Within minutes, it was chest-high.
By now, the family was on the dining table, watching in horror. Alexa's brother, Victor Vincent, glanced at the ceiling as the precious pocket of air grew smaller. They thought of escaping, but Linda couldn't swim.
Alexa checked her cell phone. It was 8:30 a.m. The icon for her mobile service provider was replaced with a circle with a slash through it.
"I knew then that even if we could scream for help, nobody in the world could hear us," Alexa said. "We were cut off from everything."
And the water was still rising.
Read the rest of the story here.
- Created on 12 November 2013
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's government announced the end of a 3-month-old state of emergency Tuesday, two days earlier than planned, after a court ruled that the measure has expired.
Ending the state of emergency would mean the end of a nighttime curfew also in place since mid-August, measures aimed at helping authorities impose control amid protests by supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi. Security officials have shown concern that its end could add fuel to the protests.
Morsi, who has been in detention since his July 3 ouster by the military, had his first extensive meeting with lawyers on Tuesday, consulting in prison with a team from his Muslim Brotherhood and allies on his ongoing trial on charges of inciting murder, which began last week. Morsi is so far refusing to allow the team to represent him, saying he remains the elected president and refuses to recognize the tribunal against him following what he and his supporters call an illegal coup.
During the meeting, Morsi gave the lawyers a "statement to the nation and the Egyptian people," said Morsi's son, Osama, a lawyer who was among those who met him, according to the Muslim Brotherhood's website. He said the statement was addressed to "the various movements, factions and sects" of the Egyptian people.
The lawyers planned a press conference for Wednesday, when it appeared the statement would be released.
The court ruling on ending the state of emergency appeared to have caught the government off guard. Only a day earlier, Interior Minister Mahmoud Ibrahim had said it would be lifted on Thursday, announcing that security reinforcements would deploy in the streets at that time — a sign of the worries over intensified protests.
- Created on 11 November 2013
Tacloban, Philippines (CNN) -- Survivors root through the splintered wreckage of their homes searching for loved ones who may be buried beneath. Others are scrambling to find food and water in areas littered with corpses.
Three days after Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms in recorded history, scythed across the central Philippines, people here are struggling to grasp the enormity of what they have lost and the challenges they face.
The storm, known as Yolanda in the Philippines, has left devastation on a monumental scale in its wake.
Thousands of houses have been obliterated. Many areas are still cut off from transport, communications and power. Some officials say that as many as 10,000 people may have been killed.
"There are too many people dead," said Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross. "We have bodies in the water, bodies on the bridges, bodies on the side of the road."
Amid the carnage, hundreds of thousands of survivors are trying to cope with a lack of water, food, shelter and medicine. Aid workers and government officials are battling to get emergency supplies to hard-hit areas cut off by fallen trees and power lines.
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- Created on 11 November 2013
AP Photo/Jerome Delay
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- One of the four Westgate Mall attackers once lived in a refugee camp of 50,000 Somali refugees in northwestern Kenya, two security officials said, highlighting Kenya's interest in speeding up the return of nearly 500,000 Somali refugees to their home country.
Very little is known about the four gunmen who sprayed bullets into men, women and children inside Nairobi's Westgate Mall on Sept. 21, a busy Saturday afternoon. Al-Shabab, a Somali Islamic extremist group affiliated with al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for the four-day siege of the mall that killed 67 people.
One mall attack suspect has been identified as Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow, a 23-year-old Somalia native whose family moved to Norway in 1999. A second name was revealed in court documents last week - Mohammed Abdinur Said - that an official confirmed was another attacker.
A Kenyan security official told The Associated Press that Said once lived in the Kakuma refugee camp, run by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, that houses 101,000 refugees. The security official insisted on anonymity to share information not yet made public. A second security official investigating the attack told AP that more than one attacker passed through Kakuma camp.
The head of UNHCR in Kenya, Raouf Mazou, told AP on Monday that his organization has been cooperating with the Kenyan government on the Westgate investigation but said he was "not aware of any specific case and not the name that you mentioned."
Said was identified as one of the four gunmen from the mall's video footage. Kenyan and international security agencies like the FBI are still working to identify all four attackers seen in the mall's security camera footage. Kenya's military earlier released pseudonyms but has not given the real names of all four attackers.
Kenyan officials have said that the remains of four people have been recovered from the rubble of the mall, but there has been no confirmation that those remains match up with the four gunmen in the video.
Kenya has hosted refugees for two decades and officials have long been concerned about security inside the major refugee camps, including Kakuma, which has 54,00 Somalis, and Dadaab, near the Somali border called Dadaab, where 388,000 Somalis live.
The agreement signed Sunday between Kenya, Somalia and UNHCR says that the 475,000 registered Somali refugees inside Kenya will get support when they return to their homeland - if they choose to return.
Kenya in 2011 mounted a military campaign inside Somalia largely to address insecurity on that side of the border and set the conditions for the return of the nearly a half million refugees.
Mazou said UNHCR has supported the government in its efforts to increase security inside the U.N. camps. In the last several years the camps, particularly Dadaab, have been hit by a spate of blasts by grenades and improvised explosive devices.
"Clearly there was some insecurity in the camps," Mazou said. "Things have improved since Kenyan security has been able to deploy additional personnel in the Dadaab area."
"This agreement is not about Kenya telling people to leave but about encouraging the international community to do more in south-central Somalia where these refugees come from," Mazou said.