CNN chief Jeff Zucker keeps his network on a breaking news course in the wake of Irma

CNN chief Jeff Zucker keeps his network on a breaking news course in the wake of Irma

CNN “New Day” anchor Chris Cuomo admits that standing outside in a storm as powerful as Hurricane Irma requires some rationalization.

“It’s arguably a stupid thing to do,” he said this week on the phone from Naples, Fla., where he and his crew spent several nights living out of a minivan while reporting for the cable network. “But we do it for a reason.”

Cuomo was among the anchors and correspondents willing to take the risks necessary to inform the public and emergency responders about the conditions and spread the word on the needs of the victims (CNN had an army of 140 people working on the story). He went a step further by sharing his satellite phone with residents who needed to get in touch with loved ones after the storm.

Such emotional moments helped boost the ratings for all the cable news networks during the storm coverage. Fox News Channel had the most viewers among the news networks. But, aside from the Weather Channel, CNN got the biggest ratings boost for the week that ended Sept. 10, according to Nielsen.

For the duration of the storm from Sept. 6 to 11, CNN averaged 1.47 million viewers, a 69% jump from its average for the previous four weeks, according to Nielsen. Fox News had 1.76 million viewers, a 28% jump; while MSNBC had 1.13 million, an increase of 12%. In the 25-to-54 category, the age group that advertisers value most in news programming, CNN was up 89% and ranked first in the category during for five straight days, the longest such streak the Time Warner-owned channel has had since 2001.

The ratings surge is a reminder that many viewers are still in the habit of going to CNN in a time of crisis, underscoring its commitment to devoting resources to breaking news around the world over 37 years.

“CNN was a natural place for all those viewers to flock to, given that the brand remains incredibly strong and the place for major news,” CNN President Jeff Zucker said in an interview.

The question is whether CNN can hold on to those viewers when the intensity of a news story subsides. It has become more of an imperative lately as MSNBC has made major gains in ratings after several years of running a distant third behind Fox News and CNN. MSNBC has picked up viewers during the day with its breaking news coverage while leading CNN on most weeknights when its politically left-leaning hosts are on.

Zucker said he does not see a need to change course, noting that his network still leads MSNBC in the 25-to-54 category year-to-date in prime time.

But the competition is gaining ground. MSNBC has been powered to its best numbers ever thanks to the emergence of Rachel Maddow as the voice of the anti-Trump movement. She is now the most-watched host on cable news among the 25-to-54 demographic.

The audience for first-place Fox News is so loyal, the network’s ratings have withstood several major changes in personnel including the loss of marquee anchor Bill O’Reilly, who was fired in April amid a sexual harassment scandal at the network. Even with the lineup shifts, Fox News viewers know they can rely on the channel to hear a robust defense of President Trump’s policies from its commentators.

Zucker notes that his network is running ahead of its record ratings year of 2016 on the strength of its breaking news coverage, which he believes is what viewers still look for from the channel.

“If you think about the last five or six weeks there has been a tremendous run of big stories with what’s happened in Charlottesville, what’s happened in North Korea and what happened with Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida,” he said. “The fact is audiences have been incredibly strong for CNN all year.”

CNN remains ahead of NBCUniversal-owned channel MSNBC among 25- to 54-year-olds and is having the best year in its history in the category.

Although it does not matter to advertisers, MSNBC has the bragging rights of being ahead of CNN among all viewers over the full day in 2017, for the first time ever. NBC News, which runs the channel, believes the milestone is viewers’ recognition that MSNBC is more than a political talk outlet.

“Over the past six months, more viewers have watched breaking news during the day on MSNBC than on CNN,” an NBC News spokesperson said. “That’s a seismic shift that was almost unimaginable two years ago when MSNBC changed its daytime product from opinion shows to live, breaking news coverage in collaboration with NBC News.”

Even with the pressure from MSNBC, Zucker said he has no plans to shake up his prime-time lineup to try to take on Maddow in the 9 p.m. Eastern hour. CNN currently has Anderson Cooper anchoring the time slot on most nights.

“We’re incredibly happy with our schedule,” Zucker said. “We don’t have this need to win every hour. We have this need to report and service our audiences on television and in digital.”

CNN’s ratings and its digital growth have it on track to take in $1.1 billion in profit this year, a strong financial performance that comes at a time of pending transition. AT&T’s deal to acquire CNN parent company Time Warner is expected to be approved in the next few weeks. It has led to speculation about whether the company is willing to deal with the headaches that come with being in the news business and whether it wants Zucker at the helm of the network. Trump, who became a reality TV star at NBC under Zucker’s watch at the network, often complains about CNN’s aggressive coverage of his administration.

Zucker declined to comment on the AT&T deal, and would not confirm whether new management had called to praise the hurricane coverage and the service it provided to viewers.

As far as the criticism from the White House, Zucker said CNN’s internal research continues to show the “fake news” narrative pushed by the White House has had no effect on public perception, even prior to its coverage of Irma.

“There is no evidence any of those silly attacks by the Trump White House were having any effect whatsoever,” Zucker said. “There is strong evidence it was working to the contrary given our audience levels.”

One unexpected side benefit generated from Cuomo’s Irma coverage is the social media attention he received for the tight T-shirts he wore on camera. He good-naturedly insisted the wardrobe choice was not an attempt to generate viewer interest.

“My T-shirts are all XL,” said the anchor, who stands 6 feet 2 and weighs 220 pounds. “I wear black because it hides the sweat. The idea of my wearing an intentionally tight shirt is demonstrably false.”

Chelsea Manning Tells Audience: I Am Not an ‘American Traitor’

Chelsea Manning Tells Audience: I Am Not an ‘American Traitor’

Chelsea Manning addresses an audience, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, during a forum, in Nantucket, Mass.

Convicted WikiLeaks leaker Chelsea Manning told the audience in Massachusetts that she is not an “American traitor” and she did what she thought was ethical.

“I believe I did the best I could in my circumstances to make an ethical decision,” Manning told the attendees of the annual Nantucket Project conference in Massachusetts after being asked whether she is a traitor for leaking classified documents, Star and Stripes reported.

The 29-year-old was convicted in 2013 for espionage and sentenced to spend 35 years in jail. President Barack Obama commuted her sentence in his last days as the commander-in-chief.

Manning told Eugene Jarecki, an award-winning documentary director and the event’s moderator, that the U.S. as a “police state” following Harvard University’s decision on Friday to rescind invitation to become a visiting fellow.

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“I’m not ashamed of being disinvited,” she said. “I view that just as much of an honored distinction as the fellowship itself.”

She also said her choice to speak publicly and try to “change the tone of the conversation” was a risk, adding that it has not improved and actually “have gotten worse.”

“I’m walking out of prison and I see, literally, a dystopian novel unfolding before my eyes,” she told the audience. “That’s how I feel when I walk in the American streets today.”

Manning also said privacy is “dead” in today’s society and encouraged people to “forgive everybody at some point,” adding that she will continue to be in the public eye.

“Everybody keeps telling me, ‘Maybe you shouldn’t say this. Maybe you shouldn’t do this event. Maybe you shouldn’t talk. Maybe you shouldn’t do this,'” she said. “And I’m just like, OK, the fact that you’re telling me I shouldn’t do this is the reason why I should. And I think that’s what we can all do.”

North Korea launches missile over Japan

  • First missile launch since September 3 nuclear test
  • UN Security Council to meet Friday
  • South Korea test fired missile capable of striking near Pyongyang in response

(CNN)In a major show of defiance to the international community, North Korea fired a ballistic missile over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido Friday.

The launch is the second to fly over Japan in less than a month, and the first since North Korea’s sixth nuclear test and new United Nations sanctions on the country.
North Korean state media has yet to reference the launch, but a commentary published in the Rodong Sinmun newspaper Friday said “no matter how strong the pressure is, it doesn’t work on us.”
Tokyo and Washington will be seeking to up that pressure at the United Nations Friday, with the two governments calling a snap meeting of the Security Council for Friday afternoon, ahead of the General Assembly next week.
Sirens sound in Japan after second missile threat

Sirens sound in Japan after second missile threat 00:56
Speaking after the launch, the first since North Korea’s sixth nuclear test, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the launch was “totally unacceptable” and went against “the international community’s strong, united will for a peaceful solution.”
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Friday’s missile test follows the release of a statement Wednesday, in which the North Korean state news agency KCNA threatened the “four islands of the (Japanese) archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche,” referring to the ruling ideology of North Korea.
The launch also seemed to be intended to send a message to the US, flying a distance equivalent to that from North Korea to Guam, the US territory that has come under threat from Pyongyang in recent weeks.

Furthest intermediate range missile test

North Korea’s latest missile was fired from the district of Sunan in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, home to the country’s main airport, the South Korean military said.
Initial US assessments suggested North Korea fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile, similar to that fired over Japan last month.
The missile flew about 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) and reached an altitude of 770 kilometers (480 miles) before landing in the Pacific Ocean. Guam is 3,380 kilometers (2,100 miles) from North Korea.
Friday’s missile flew the furthest of any North Korean intermediate-range missiles, though previous launches have used lofted trajectories, where missiles fly much higher over a shorter distance. By comparison, an intercontinental ballistic missile launched in July flew 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) high and traveled a distance of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles).
A South Korean Hyunmoo II ballistic missile is fired during an exercise at an undisclosed location on September 15, 2017.

In response to North Korea’s launch, South Korea carried out a “live fire drill” that included a missile launch which the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said was capable of striking the Sunan airport launch site near Pyongyang used for today’s launch.

CNN takes you to parts of North Korea rarely seen. Watch the documentary on CNN and CNN International:

  • 10 p.m. ET, Friday September 15
  • 11 a.m. JST. Saturday, September 16
  • 12 p.m. AEST Saturday, September 16
The South Korean missile, which was launched from the country’s east coast while the North Korean missile was still in the air, was “a show of force in response to North Korea’s latest provocation,” a South Korean official told CNN.
A second missile that was fired at the same time failed and “sank into the sea off the east coast,” an official said.
Park Soo-hyun, spokesman for South Korean President Moon Jae-in, said the country’s military had been ordered “to prepare a stern measure that can effectively counter North Korea’s increasing nuclear and military threats.”
“North Korea’s firing of yet another ballistic missile is a clear violation of (UN Security Council) resolutions and a very serious and grave challenge to international peace and security,” the South Korean government said in a statement.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the launch was “another reckless breach of UN resolutions” and a “major threat” to international peace and security “which demands a global response.”
In regularly scheduled press conference Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying reemphasized Beijing’s “resolution” on pushing for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
“China has strictly and comprehensively implemented the resolutions of the UN Security Council,” Hua said, adding the country has “paid a great price and made sacrifices.”
The weapon that makes N. Korea more dangerous

The weapon that makes N. Korea more dangerous 01:12

Japan on high alert

Friday’s missile test set off sirens as a government warning, known as the J-Alert, went out to citizens across a broad swath of northern Japan.
“The government is advising people to stay away from anything that could be missile debris,” NHK reported.
In a statement, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the missile test was the second time the people of Japan “have been directly threatened in recent weeks.”
“The international community needs to unite and send clear message after North Korea’s dangerous provocation,” Abe told reporters. “We must let North Korea understand there is no bright future for North Korea if it continues in this way.”
He said the Japanese government tracked the launch of the missile and “took all possible measures.”
Japan and the US have requested the UN Security Council hold “urgent consultations” at 3 p.m. ET Friday, according to the Ethiopian Mission to the UN. Ethiopian Ambassador Tekeda Alemu is the current UN Security Council president.

Need for more pressure

The launch came just hours after North Korea responded to the United Nations Security Council’s unanimous approval of additional sanctions by threatening to “sink” Japan and reduce the US mainland into “ash and darkness.”
Those sanctions were prompted by North Korea’s sixth nuclear test that occurred on September 3, which Pyongyang said was a successful test of a hydrogen bomb.
That explosion created a magnitude-6.3 tremor, making it the most powerful weapon Pyongyang has ever tested.
The nuclear test prompted discussions inside South Korea about the the redeployment of US tactical nuclear weapons in the country, an idea that the majority of the country’s citizens approve of, according to recent polls.
But on Thursday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in dismissed the possibility, warning it could “lead to a nuclear arms race in northeast Asia.”
Both Abe and Tillerson called for an intensifying of pressure on North Korea, including the full implementation of the new UN sanctions.
“These continued provocations only deepen North Korea’s diplomatic and economic isolation,” Tillerson said.
“United Nations Security Council resolutions, including the most recent unanimous sanctions resolution, represent the floor, not the ceiling, of the actions we should take. We call on all nations to take new measures against the Kim regime.”
He singled out Chinese oil supplies and Russia’s use of North Korean migrant workers as two areas in which the two countries could take “direct action” against North Korea.
Speaking Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua said it was “irresponsible and unhelpful to blame others,” adding those parties directly involved in the dispute “should shoulder the responsibility” for it.
south korean president moon paula hancocks intvw_00012404

Paula Hancocks interviews S. Korean president 02:39

Rapid pace

2017 has been a year of rapid progress for North Korea’s missile program.
Less than six years into his reign, Kim Jong Un has tested more missiles than his father and grandfather combined. And this year has been no exception.
Prior to its most recent launch, the country has fired 21 missiles during 14 tests since February, further perfecting its technology with each launch.
There’s also a political aspect to the tests, analysts say.

North Korea has long maintained it wants nuclear weapons and long-range missiles to deter the United States from attempting to overthrow the regime of Kim Jong Un.

Pyongyang looks at states such as Iraq — where Saddam Hussein was overthrown by the United States, and Libya — its late leader, Moammar Gadhafi, gave up his nuclear ambitions for sanctions relief and aid, only to be toppled and killed after the United States intervened in his country’s civil unrest — and believes that only being able to threaten the US mainland with a retaliatory nuclear strike can stop American military intervention.

Many experts say they believe North Korea would not use the weapons first. Kim values his regime’s survival above all else and knows the use of a nuclear weapon would start a war he could not win, analysts say.

“This new missile test … is both a reaction to the stringent UN sanctions of Monday evening and a wake-up call about the limits of sanctions and military threats as a way to change North Korea’s behavior,” said George A Lopez, a former member of the UN Security Council panel of experts for sanctions on North Korea.
He said Trump should use his speech to the UN General Assembly next week to “demonstrate US leadership in loyalty to all allies in the region and state our commitment to developing new and vibrant security guarantees for all states, including (North Korea), that are not based on the threat or use of nuclear weapons.”
The White House has been pursuing a strategy of what it calls “peaceful pressure” in dealing with North Korea — trying to build a global coalition to squeeze North Korea’s revenue and isolate it diplomatically so it will eventually put its missiles on the negotiating table.
China has been key to that strategy, as Beijing accounts for nearly 90% of all of North Korea’s imports, according to recent data from the United Nations.
Hours before the launch, Trump touted his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping and their collaboration in addressing North Korea’s rapidly escalating missile and nuclear programs.
“We have a very good relationship with China and with the President of China. We are working on different things,” Trump said. “I can’t tell you, obviously, what I’m working on. But believe me, the people of this country will be very, very safe.”

Trump Says ‘No Deal’ Was Reached With Democrats to Extend DACA

Trump Says ‘No Deal’ Was Reached With Democrats to Extend DACA

“No deal was made last night on DACA. Massive border security would have to be agreed to in exchange for consent. Would be subject to vote,” Trump tweeted in a series of posts.

“The WALL, which is already under construction in the form of new renovation of old and existing fences and walls, will continue to be built,” he wrote.

No deal was made last night on DACA. Massive border security would have to be agreed to in exchange for consent. Would be subject to vote.

The WALL, which is already under construction in the form of new renovation of old and existing fences and walls, will continue to be built.

Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!…..

“Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really! …They have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own — brought in by parents at young age. Plus BIG border security,” Trump posted about DACA recipients.

Trump, in his series of tweets Thursday, did not deny reports that he would support a deal on DACA that didn’t include the wall.


 Trump Claims Ryan, McConnell on Board With Potential DACA Fix 1:00

And, in brief comments to reporters later Thursday, Trump said “the wall will come later” and that Republican congressional leaders were “on board” with the talks.

“We’re working on a plan, we’ll see how it works out,” he said as he was departing to tour the hurricane damage in Florida. “We’re going to get massive border security as part of that.”

“The wall will come later,” he added of his plan to build a wall along the Mexico border. “The wall is going to be built, it will be funded a little bit later.”

“If the wall is going to be obstructed…then we’re not doing anything,” the president said later in Florida.

And when asked by a reporter if he supported amnesty, Trump cupped his hands to his lips and said, “DACA — the word is DACA.”

After arriving in Florida, Trump told reporters that he is “not looking at citizenship” or “amnesty” for Dreamers but instead the discussion is about “taking care of people.”

Earlier, the president said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., backed the plan.

Two aides to Ryan, however, told NBC News that the Speaker had not talked to Trump since the the president dined Wednesday night with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Following that dinner, Pelosi and Schumer said they’d reached a deal with the president “to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides.”

 Trump disputes Democrats’ account of dinner deal on DACA, border wall 3:20

Schumer and Pelosi, in a joint statement Thursday morning, added that Trump’s tweets “are not inconsistent with the agreement reached last night.”

The pair said “there was no final deal” but that “both sides agreed that the wall would not be any part of this agreement.”

“The President made clear he intends to pursue it at a later time, and we made clear we would continue to oppose it,” they said.

Related: Trump, Dems Close to Deal on DACA

Dropping the demand for a border wall could make it easier for Republicans and Democrats to reach an agreement on DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which protects undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children.

Following the Wednesday night joint statement from Schumer and Pelosi, however, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted that, “While DACA and border security were both discussed, excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to.”

But earlier Wednesday, White House legislative affairs director Marc Short told an industry trade group that the border wall does not have to be a part of an agreement on DACA, one attendee at the meeting said.

The Trump administration announced last week that the Obama-era program would end in six months. The president said as part of the announcement that, “I am not going to just cut DACA off, but rather provide a window of opportunity for Congress to finally act.”

Ending DACA — a program allows undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children to remain and get work permits in the country — could affect as many as an estimated 800,000 people.

Sources told NBC News Wednesday night that Schumer and Pelosi told Trump they are prepared to deliver votes on a measure that would pair the existing DREAM Act text with additional border security that does not include the border wall funding. Specifics on what type and level of border security were not disclosed.

DACA deal? Trump & Dems differ over potential border wall funds 9:56

The DREAM Act would have offered those who came to the U.S. as children the opportunity to potentially gain permanent legal residency. The act was first introduced in August 2001 by Sen. Orin Hatch, R-Utah, and Dick Durbin, D-Ill. It has resurfaced several times, always failing to get through Congress.

Discussion of a possible deal marked the second time in as many weeks that Trump spurned his own party to pursue an agreement with Democrats. Last week, Trump struck a deal with Schumer and Pelosi that combined disaster aid for those affected by Hurricane Harvey with measures to keep the government open and extend the debt ceiling for three months, leaving some Republicans reeling.

News of another potential deal was met immediately with criticism from conservative Republicans.

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, an anti-immigration hardliner tweeted Wednesday that, if there was an agreement, “Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible.”

A potential deal would also go against the views of former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, who as a White House aide was credited with helping Trump emphasize a message centered on economic nationalism.

Bannon, who following his White House exit returned as the head of Breitbart News, told CBS’ “60 Minutes” last week he didn’t agree with Trump’s decision to give Congress a window to save DACA legislatively, and that “the guys in the far-right” and “on the conservative side” were “not happy” with it either.

At least 5 dead in Florida nursing home left with no A/C after Irma

At least 5 dead in Florida nursing home left with no A/C after Irma

CNN affiliate WPLG reported that the home’s air-conditioning had been out since Hurricane Irma struck Sunday.
Sharief said she did not have any details about the causes of death, and that authorities are investigating.
Firefighters are helping evacuate about 100 people from the nursing home.
Developing story – more to come

Hurricane Irma Winds Down, Leaving a Trail of Destruction and Broken Records

Hurricane Irma Winds Down, Leaving a Trail of Destruction and Broken Records

By 6 a.m. ET Tuesday, Irma was about 65 miles southwest of Atlanta. Its top winds were down to 25 mph, and it was charging across the Southeast toward Tennessee and the Ohio Valley as a nasty thunderstorm system. The National Hurricane Center reclassified it as a tropical depression and canceled all tropical storm warnings late Monday.

 Hyperlapse Video Shows Hurricane Irma’s Entire Destructive Path 0:23

Still, Irma was producing very heavy rain across the Southeast, leading to flash floods and rapid rises in creeks, streams and rivers. The hurricane center said that significant river flooding would persist over the Florida peninsula for several days and that parts of Georgia, South Carolina and north-central Alabama remained vulnerable to flash floods.

Related: Mobile Home Residents Return to Find Paradise Is Not Lost

In Irma’s wake, meanwhile, lay a trail of devastation from the Cape Verde Islands to Georgia.

Image: Hurricane Irma in Ponte Vedra Beach
A house slides into the Atlantic Ocean in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida on Monday. Gary Lloyd McCullough / The Florida Times-Union via AP

Irma was a full-fledged hurricane in less than 24 hours. It was so strong and so robust that it seemingly set a record for the number of records it set.

According to Phil Klotzbach, a noted atmospheric research scientist at Colorado State University:

  • When Irma reached Category 5 — the strongest there is — it stayed there for more than three days, the longest run since forecasters began using satellites to monitor tropical storms more than a half-century ago.
  • Irma kept blowing 185-mph maximum sustained winds for 37 hours — the longest any cyclone has ever maintained that intensity anywhere on Earth since records started being kept.
  • Irma generated the most accumulated energy by any tropical cyclone in the Atlantic tropics on record.

But if there’s one statistic that sums Irma up, it’s this one: It generated enough accumulated cyclone energy — the total wind energy generated over a storm’s lifetime — to meet the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s definition of an average full Atlantic hurricane season. All by itself, it was more powerful than 18 of the 51 full hurricane seasons since 1966, according to Klotzbach’s calculations (PDF).

“The next couple of days and couple of weeks — probably months, in a lot of spots — are going to be very busy for a lot of people rebuilding,” Ari Sarsalari, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel, said Monday night.

Irma is confirmed to have killed 10 people in the United States so far: four in the U.S. Virgin Islands, three in Puerto Rico, two in Georgia and one in Florida.

Image: Hurricane Irma Aftermath
The neighborhood of Cojimar was destroyed by Hurricane Irma in Havana, Cuba. Yamil Lage / AFP – Getty Images

About 7.5 million customers remained without power in Florida late Monday. Almost 1½ million had no power in Georgia, which experienced the oddity of tropical storm warnings over Atlanta, more than 800 miles from where Irma made its first U.S. landfall.

Related: Floridians Take Stock and Begin Recovery as Irma Exits

“This will be the largest ever mobilization of [electric] line restoration workers in this country, period, end of story,” Tom Bossert, President Donald Trump’s homeland security adviser, told reporters Monday.

Irma killed 10 people in Cuba, 8 people on the French-Dutch island of St. Martin and St. Maarten, 5 people in the French Caribbean territories, 4 people in the British Virgin Islands and 1 person each on Anguilla and Barbuda.

Widespread Damage Paralyzes the Caribbean 1:38

Nine out of 10 government and business structures were estimated to have been damaged or destroyed on Anguilla. The French government estimated damage at almost $1.5 billion just on St. Bart’s and French St. Martin. The prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, described his country as “barely habitable,” saying 90 percent of all vehicles and buildings had been damaged.

The U.S. military spread far and wide in what Bossert called “the largest-ever mobilization of our military in a naval and marine operation.”

PHOTOS: Floridians Awake to Damage and Darkness

“We have the largest flotilla operation in our nation’s history to help not only the people of Puerto Rico, the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands, but also St. Martin and other non-U.S. islands affected,” he said.

Moody’s Analytics, the research arm of the financial services giant Moody’s Corp., estimated Monday that Irma would end up having caused $64 billion to $92 billion of damage in the United States. It stressed that that’s just a preliminary estimate.

The Cost of Irma: Billions of Dollars in Damage 1:51

Insurance losses, meanwhile, are projected to reach as high as $40 billion, the risk modeling firm AIR Worldwide said Monday.

Trump said Sunday, “Right now, we’re worried about lives.” Still, he acknowledged, recovery from Irma is “going to cost a lot of money.”

Irma, Now a Tropical Storm, Leaves Six Million Without Power in Florida

Irma, Now a Tropical Storm, Leaves Six Million Without Power in Florida

Image: Hurricane Irma Slams Into Florida

A car sits abandoned in storm surge in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

TAMPA, Fla. — Irma was downgraded to a tropical storm Monday morning after a terrifying weekend where the devastating superstorm battered much of Florida with triple-digit winds and plunged millions of residents into darkness.

The extent of the damage after a day of triple-digit winds and raging waters was slow to emerge as morning broke and officials began assessing the damage while first responders began searching for casualties.

Florida’s largest utility reported that the storm had knocked out power to nearly three-quarters of its customers. More than 6.2 million residents across the state woke up Monday to no electricity.

Hurricane Irma: Massive power outages throughout Florida

Meanwhile, the families of Hardee County Deputy Julie Bridges and Sgt. Joseph Ossman, a Hardee County corrections officer, were in mourning after the two were killed Sunday when their cars collided as Irma was threatening Florida. While weather was likely a factor, but the deaths were not immediately blamed on Irma

Tampa appeared to be largely unscathed after Irma passed through. Some trees, power lines and signs were down but there was no widespread damage and no signs of flooding downtown. But storm surge warning remained in effectfor some areas — including Tampa Bay.

The Latest on the Storm

  • The center of Irma was expected to cross the eastern Florida Panhandle into southern Georgia on Monday afternoon before later heading into eastern Alabama.
  • Tornadoes were possible in northeast Florida and the southeast portions of Georgia and South Carolina through Monday night.
  • West Palm Beach airport is scheduled to re-open Monday at noon. Miami International Airport scheduled to re-open Tuesday with limited schedules. Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa International airports were to remain closed Monday.
  • Irma hit the lower Florida Keys with winds of up 130 mph just after 7 a.m. ET Sunday. It made landfall on Cudjoe Key around 2 hours later. It weakened to a Category 1 storm early Monday.
  • It passed the Tampa Bay area early Monday on its way to northern Florida.
  • The Florida Keys could get 10 to 20 inches of rain, and the western peninsula could get 10 to 15 inches.

Many streets in Miami were submerged, and three construction cranes collapsedin Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

By 8 a.m. ET Monday, Irma had sustained winds of 70 mph as it moved further inland, about 105 miles north of Tampa.

The National Hurricane Center said that the storm is still producing wind gusts “near to hurricane force.”

The storm’s maximum winds decreased to about 70 mph Monday, with higher gusts, but NHC officials predicted “additional slow weakening,” with Irma becoming a tropical depression by Tuesday afternoon.

The havoc it wreaked on Florida as a hurricane, however, was serious.

Image:  Jerry Darnell stands in front of his house that was flooded by Hurricane Irma
Jerry Darnell stands in front of his house that was flooded by Hurricane Irma in Bonita Springs, Florida. 

NHC officials said the storm’s center was moving toward Florida’s northwestern coast and could cross the eastern Florida Panhandle into southern Georgia Monday afternoon, moving into southwestern Georgia and eastern Alabama by Monday night and Tuesday morning.

Hurricane-force winds were extending outward up to 60 miles from Irma’s center, and tropical-storm-force winds were being felt up to 415 miles away, the National Hurricane Center said early Monday.

Forecasters urged Floridians not to let their guard down, warning of as much as 16 inches of rain and tropical storm-force winds well into Monday morning.

“In all areas this rainfall may cause life-threatening flash floods,” the National Hurricane Center said at 11 p.m. ET.

Bill Karins, a NBC News meteorologist, highlighted that Naples reported only around 6 feet of storm surge on Sunday night. The hurricane center had earlier forecast a “catastrophic” storm surge of up to 15 feet in the city.

In Tampa and St. Petersburg, which hadn’t been struck by a major hurricane since 1921, 6 p.m. curfews were declared with about 28,000 people in shelters throughout Hillsborough County, NBC affiliate WFLA of Tampa reported.

All emergency services were suspended Sunday night in St. Petersburg and Hillsborough County, and some were suspended in many other counties and municipalities, as winds made it too dangerous to be outside.

Earlier, the center of Irma’s eye passed over Cudjoe Key at 9:10 a.m. ET Sunday, the National Hurricane Center reported, and around 3:35 p.m. ET it made landfall again on Marco Island, 180 miles south of Tampa.

Hurricane Irma slams Florida, weakens to Category 1 overnight1:20

Evacuees fled as far north as Tennessee, where Eric Gerhardt of the Tampa Bay area pulled into a shelter with his family at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis.

“We tailgated up to Tallahassee, slept in the car a little bit, and upon getting to Tallahassee, realized it wasn’t safe,” Gerhardt told NBC affiliate WMC on Sunday.

The trip was “hectic, to say the least,” Gerhardt said. “Fuel shortages abound. There was no water to be had. People were fighting over water when shipments would come in.”

Related: How to Help Hurricane Irma Victims

Irma slammed into Naples late Sunday afternoon with maximum winds of 110 mph and a top wind gust of 142 mph.

Recalling Hurricane Wilma, the powerful Category 3 storm that struck Florida in 2005, killing six people and causing $20 billion in damage, Mayor Bill Barnett described Irma as “horrendous.”

“I thought Wilma was bad … this one really, really made Wilma look kind of tame. I’ve never seen anything like this,” Barnett said on TODAY.

Barnett said city officials would be conducting extensive damage assessment Monday, with crews having gone out at sunrise.

“We are going to have a lot of work to do. This was a bad one,” he said.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, for his part, expressed gratitude that the storm was “not a knock-out” for his city.

“It was a glancing blow,” he said. “We are still standing.”

“I think when dawn comes and the lights come on we will find we were very, very lucky last night,” he added.

Tampa Mayor on Hurricane Irma damage: ‘We were very lucky’2:44

Miami International Airport, meanwhile, sustained significant water damage and will remain closed Monday, said Emilio Gonzalez, the airport’s chief executive and director of aviation.

Looting was also a problem. Miami-Dade County police said early Monday that they they’d made 28 looting-related arrests, while 19 people were arrested by Ft. Lauderdale police for burglarizing homes and businesses — and Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel gave them a tongue-lashing in a message posted on Facebook.

“Looters: your behavior is illegal, it’s felonious and it won’t be tolerated,” he said, adding that he’d make sure his deputies examined every possible camera that could have captured the thieves.

“It’s unscrupulous and deplorable to loot at a time when we’re battling one of the major storms of the century,” he said.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal expanded the state’s emergency declaration to cover all 159 counties on Sunday and closed the state government at least through Tuesday.

All of Monday’s flights at Southwest Georgia Regional Airport in Albany were canceled. In Macon, a fifth shelter was opened Sunday after evacuees filled four to capacity, NBC affiliate WMGT reported.

Shortages of gasoline and bottled water were reported Sunday night throughout metro Atlanta, where Irma’s impact could be felt for months.

Image: Hurricane Irma Slams Into Florida
Trees bend in the tropical storm wind in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

“Let’s say there’s a portion of Georgia or Florida that becomes uninhabitable for a long period of time. Those evacuees might decide to remain here, so we could have a significant bump in our population because those people don’t have anywhere else to go,” said Thomas Smith of the Goizueta Business School at Emory University in Atlanta.

That would add pressure to resources going into and out of the state, and it “could even affect housing and wages,” Smith told NBC affiliate WXIA.

In South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster visited the state Emergency Operations Center in Columbia and warned residents that when Irma arrives, it could be “as damaging as Hurricane Matthew” — which killed 30 people and did about $1.8 billion of damage in North and South Carolina in October 2016.

“Nature is powerful, and if you’ve seen those photographs and films from down south, you realize how powerful,” McMaster said. “Sometimes, we forget how powerful it is, but everybody remembers Matthew.”

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said all state offices and buildings would be closed Monday in 24 counties under tropical storm warnings.

View image on Twitter

“Folks, this is an all-hands-on-deck event,” Ivey said at a news conference Sunday. “All Alabamians, but especially those in our easternmost counties, must make sure that they and their families are well prepared.”

President Donald Trump, who declared a major disaster in the Florida on Sunday, monitored progress from the presidential retreat at Camp David in Maryland. Returning to the White House, he said the response to the crisis has “been going really well.”

“The bad news is this is a monster,” he told reporters on the South Lawn. “I hope there aren’t too many people in the path. That’s a bad path to be in.”

Meanwhile, a total of 24 people died due to Irma in the Caribbean after it clobbered several islands, including Barbuda, St. Martin, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, where 1 million people were left without electricity.

Earthquake Off Mexico Kills Dozens, Sparks Tsunami Warning

Earthquake Off Mexico Kills Dozens, Sparks Tsunami Warning

Image: Massive Earthquake Hits Southern Mexico

Debris and damage in a mall in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, after an earthquake struck Mexico. Xinhua via Zuma Press

The most powerful earthquake to hit Mexico in a century struck off the country’s southern coast early Friday, killing at least 26 people and prompting warnings it could trigger tsunami waves up to 10 feet high.

The quake just before 1 a.m. ET was stronger than the 1985 tremor that killed more than 5,000 people in Mexico City, according to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

However, with an epicenter 40 miles off the coast and some 460 miles from the capital itself, early indications suggested the damage was far more limited.

At least 20 people were killed in the southern state of Oaxaca, its governor, Alejandro Murat, said according to Reuters. Six others died in Chiapas and Tabasco states, including three children, according to officials.

Massive earthquake off Mexico’s southern coast kills at least 51:36

The president said there had been at least 62 aftershocks and warned one as strong as 7.2 could hit in the next 24 hours.

Some 1 million homes and businesses initially had been without power, according to Peña Nieto, but he added electricity had been restored to 800,000 of them.

In Chiapas, the state closest to the offshore epicenter, there were reports some buildings had been badly damaged. Its governor, Manuel Velasco Coello, said on Facebook that around 1,000 army troops were helping with the rescue and recovery effort.

Four people were killed there including one child, and Coello urged several towns to evacuate their homes due to the threat from possible tsunami waves.

Two children also died in neighboring Tabasco state, one after a wall collapsed and the other, a baby, who died after a hospital lost electricity, the state’s Gov. Arturo Nunez said.

Mexico Earthquake
U.S. Geological Survey

In Mexico City, buildings wobbled and sent residents fleeing into the streets in their pajamas.

“I felt the shaking and knew it was an earthquake,” said Mark Van Eps, a 39-year-old musician from Los Angeles who was vacationing in Mexico City. “There was an earthquake alarm shortly after that.”

“The street and buildings started swaying considerably,” said Harry Neville-Towle, a 30-year-old art director visiting from Sydney, Australia. “All the cars started pulling over and people started coming out of their houses … People were afraid to go back inside for at least an hour, as we were all unsure of whether their might be an aftershock.”

Classes were canceled in Mexico City and several other states so that officials could check that buildings were structurally sound, the president said on Twitter.

Small tsunami waves of 3.3 feet washed ashore the city of Salina Cruz and others of 2.3 feet were measured at the resort town of Huatulco, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

The government agency warned that waves of up to 10 feet could hit other parts of the country.

“We are waiting for a while to see if this is going to happen or not,” Interior Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong told Mexican broadcaster Televisa.

Small waves could also hit neighboring Central American countries but no tsunami was expected in California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, British Columbia or Alaska, according to the Tsunami Warning Center.

The U.S. Geological Survey initially estimated the magnitude at 8.0 before revising it to 8.1 The Mexican Seismological Agency rated it at magnitude 8.4.

Image: Mexico Earthquake
Patients and doctors gather outside a hospital in Villahermosa, Mexico, after the earthquake. Stringer / EPA

In neighboring Guatemala, President Jimmy Morales said there had been some damage an unconfirmed reports that one person had died, according to the AP.

Meanwhile, Mexico was bracing for another natural emergency on the other side of the country.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Hurricane Katia was likely to strike the Gulf coast in the state of Veracruz early Saturday as a Category 2 storm that could bring life-threatening floods.

Hurricane Irma Reaches Puerto Rico: ‘There Is Nothing Like This’


Hurricane Irma Pummels Caribbean

One of the strongest Atlantic storms ever recorded has already caused damage on several islands.

This is Wednesday’s storm coverage. Read the latest on Hurricane Irma »

• Hurricane Irma, one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the Atlantic, hit the eastern Caribbean on Wednesday with winds of up to 185 miles an hour, but had slowed to 180 m.p.h. by Thursday morning.

• The Category 5 storm leveled Barbuda, damaging 95 percent of its buildings and leaving the island “barely habitable.” It has since begun lashing Puerto Rico and is also threatening havoc and destruction in the Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba. The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands will also be at risk on Thursday.

• The French interior minister, Gerard Collomb, said at least eight people had been killed in French Caribbean territory, and at least three deaths were reported elsewhere. The authorities warned that the toll would rise as communications improved.

• President Trump declared a state of emergency in Florida, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands. The storm is expected to reach Florida early on Saturday, potentially causing catastrophic flooding.

SEVERITY Category 5 4 3 2 1 Tropical storm
5-day forecastof storm’s path
Area ofhurricane-force winds
Observed locationThursday 2 a.m.

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‘Barbuda is literally rubble,’ but Antigua is spared.

Early on Wednesday, Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda said his nation had been spared the worst of the hurricane, declaring in a statement, “The essential point is that our main infrastructure has stood up and our country can resume normal life within hours.” He went so far as to add, “I dare to say that no other country in the Caribbean would have been as well prepared as we were.”

This turned out to be stunningly inaccurate: While the damage in Antigua was not as severe as expected, Mr. Browne announced in the afternoon that 95 percent of all structures on its sister island, Barbuda, had been damaged or destroyed, rendering the island “barely habitable.” A telecommunications tower was broken in two. At least one person, an infant, was killed.

Barbuda, home to about 1,600 people (3 percent of the country’s population), “is literally rubble,” the prime minister told ABS TV/Radio Antigua.

Devastation in Barbuda

The prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, described how the island of Barbuda was nearly leveled by Hurricane Irma.

In his initial statement Wednesday morning, Mr. Browne suggested he had been receiving reports from Barbuda. But he later clarified that, in fact, the storm had knocked out all official communication systems on the island, rendering officials there unreachable after the storm. As a result, it was not until the afternoon, when the prime minister surveyed Barbuda from the air, that the extent of the devastation became clear.

“What I saw was heart-wrenching — I mean, absolutely devastating,” Mr. Browne told ABS TV afterward, estimating that it would take at least $150 million to return the island to some semblance of normalcy.

“Hurricane Irma would have been easily the most powerful hurricane to have stormed through the Caribbean,” he said, “and it is extremely unfortunate that Barbuda was right in its path.”

Mr. Browne said he had been caught off guard by the utter destruction in Barbuda because it is so close to the comparatively unscathed Antigua. The islands are less than 40 miles apart.


‘Considerable’ damage in the French Caribbean.

President Emmanuel Macron of France said on Wednesday evening that it was too early to say how badly the islands of St. Martin and St. Barthélemy had been damaged or how many casualties there were. But French officials reported that the death toll was at least two, and Mr. Macron said the aftermath would be “harsh and cruel.”

“We will have victims to lament, and the material damage on the two islands is considerable,” he said after a crisis meeting in Paris, adding that the “entire nation” stood beside the inhabitants of the islands.

Mr. Macron said that emergency services were focusing on re-establishing contact with the affected areas and that rescue operations would be coordinated from the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, where the French minister for overseas territories, Annick Girardin, was headed on Wednesday evening.


Hurricane Irma hit San Juan, P.R., on Wednesday. CreditAlvin Baez/Reuters


In the Virgin Islands, ‘it feels seismic.’

Javorn Micheal Fahie, a taxi driver in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands, said most of the galvanized steel roofs in his neighborhood had blown off. He saw two of them, from houses facing his, flying away in the wind.

“Oh boy,” he said in an internet phone call from his concrete house in the Johnson’s Ghut area of the island, where he had been riding out the storm all day and posting videos of it on his Facebook page. “A lot of wind and rain.”

“All the trees around us have no leaves,” he added. “Everything is empty.”

Late on Wednesday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency tweeted a photo from a resident of St. Thomas, in the United States Virgin Islands.

Earlier in the day, Kelsey Nowakowski, who lives in St. Thomas, described how she and four friends had hunkered down and waited for the storm to pass.

“We’ve all been in hurricanes before, but have never felt anything like this before,” Ms. Nowakowski said in a message via Twitter. “It feels seismic, it feels catastrophic.”


In Puerto Rico, fears of rising waters.


The sea rose in Fajardo, P.R., on Tuesday. The island’s governor warned that flooding was a concern.CreditRicardo Arduengo/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló said at a televised briefing on Wednesday that six to eight inches of rain were expected in Puerto Rico, with some areas receiving up to 12 inches.

“As the history with Harvey states,” he said, referring to the hurricane that battered Houston, “flooding can become the major cause of death in events of this nature.”

With the storm expected to pass just north of San Juan between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., the governor had cautioned people to take shelter by noon in homes or in one of 156 government-run facilities. He warned that the authorities would suspend rescues once winds reached 50 m.p.h.

Carmen Caballero, 69, hastily packed supplies and rushed to the nearest government shelter in San Juan around 3 p.m., after the power went out in her home and branches began to fall. As a retired doctor, she said she had offered her services to other evacuees, including two people with Alzheimer’s and some children with autism.

Nearly 30 years ago, Puerto Rico was hit hard by Hurricane Hugo, which left more than 28,000 residents homeless. But Abigail Acevedo, 60, who survived Hugo, said Irma was worse.

“This is phenomenal,” Mr. Acevedo said in a phone interview. “There is nothing like this.”

Officials warned that the island’s fragile electrical grid could be shut down for months in some areas. The Puerto Rico electric company said nearly 300,000 people had lost power by early Wednesday afternoon. More than 4,000 had lost water service, mostly because of power failures. The governor has asked the Defense Department to activate the Army National Guard for recovery efforts once the storm passes.

The hurricane could hardly have come at a worse time for the territory, which is in the throes of an economic crisis and does not have money for rebuilding.


St. Martin’s ‘most durable’ buildings are destroyed.

The French interior minister, Gérard Collomb, said the four “most durable” buildings on St. Martin had been destroyed.

President Trump owns a property there, Le Château des Palmiers, a walled waterfront estate that is currently up for sale. It is unclear whether that property was damaged.

Power was out on St. Barthélemy, and many roofs had been blown off, according to a statement from the prefecture on the French island of Guadeloupe.

The situation on St. Martin was similar: There was no power, the fire station was flooded, and the police station no longer had a roof. The island’s administrative offices were also “partially destroyed,” the statement from Guadeloupe said, adding that the staff had taken shelter in a concrete room.

By midmorning on Wednesday, the hurricane was “pounding” the island nation of Anguilla, according to the National Hurricane Center. An officer who answered the phone at the Royal Anguilla Police Force headquarters said that one person had died in the territory.

Maps: Tracking the Path of Hurricane Irma

Satellite imagery and maps of the course of the Category 5 storm, which made landfall in the Caribbean on Wednesday. Included are representations of the various paths the hurricane could take.

Alex Woolfall, a British public relations consultant, was staying at The Westin St. Maarten resort in St. Martin when the storm made landfall early Wednesday. Mr. Woolfall tweeted updates during the storm before the power eventually went out.

Hurricane Irma: Storm Leaves Major Damage on Some Islands

Read more about the storm here.

• Hurricane Irma, packing winds of 185 m.p.h., made landfall in Barbuda, an island of about 2,000 people, around 2 a.m. Eastern on Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said. By 8 a.m., the eye had moved away from Barbuda and was passing over St. Martin.

• By 9 a.m., there were reports from officials and on social media of major damage to buildings on several islands, including St. Barthélemy and St. Martin, and phone lines were down in Barbuda.

• The Category 5 storm was churning toward Puerto Rico and threatening havoc and widespread destruction on several nearby islands, including St. Kitts and Nevis; the Virgin Islands; and Hispaniola, shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Cuba is also threatened by the hurricane.

• President Trump declared a state of emergency in Florida, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands.

Storm damage is reported in Barbuda.

Irma tore the roof off a police station on Barbuda, forcing officers to take shelter in a nearby fire station, The Associated Press reported.

Midcie Francis of the National Office of Disaster Services said that there had been damage to several homes but that the authorities had not yet assessed the extent of the destruction.

Residents and officials were particularly worried about the storm surge. Barbuda is flat, with a maximum elevation of no more than 150 feet, though most of its small population lives in and around the town of Codrington, which is at or close to sea level.

“Unfortunately, in Barbuda there are few buffers if a significant storm surge is experienced,” The Daily Observer newspaper said in an editorial on Monday.

Dario Barthley, a project officer with Cricket West Indies, the sport’s governing body in the region, said in a text message that more than 1,000 residents moved before the storm into the island’s only shelter, leaving hundreds more potentially exposed.

“It’s one of the flattest Caribbean islands, so the devastation will be a lot worse there, sad to say,” Mr. Barthely said.

Residents of Antigua also expressed concern about Barbudans in text messages and on social media. Phone lines to the sister island have been down for hours, leaving most residents there unreachable, Antiguans said.


Florida residents lining up to get propane tanks filled in Miami on Tuesday. CreditJoe Raedle/Getty Images


Pictures on social media of the devastation.

By midmorning Wednesday, the hurricane was “pounding” the island nation of Anguilla, according to the National Hurricane Center, and the storm was also battering the islands of St. Barthélemy and St. Martin.

St. Barthélemy was suffering a total blackout, “a number” of roofs had been blown away, the fire station was underwater and the fire trucks were out of service, according to a news release from the prefecture of Guadeloupe.

On St. Martin, the prefecture was “partially destroyed,” and the prefect and 23 other people had taken shelter in one of the rooms, the Guadeloupe prefecture said. The St. Martin Police Department lost some of its roofing, and the island has had a blackout since 6 a.m.7

A French government official said that Irma had destroyed the four “most solid” buildings on St. Martin, according to the BBC. But the official, Interior Minister Gérard Collomb, said there was still no news of any casualties.

One social media user, Alex Woolfall, who said he was at the Westin Dawn Beach Resort and Spa in St. Martin, tweeted: “My God this noise! It’s like standing behind a jet engine!! Constant booms & bangs. At least concrete stairwell not moving.”


Hurricane sideswipes Antigua.


A satellite image of Hurricane Irma taken Wednesday morning, as the eye of the storm approached St. Martin.CreditNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Irma produced high gusts of wind across Antigua, in what appeared to be a less-than-eventful hit on the island early Wednesday.

About 4 a.m. local time, the storm was 40 miles north of the island, the National Hurricane Center said.

In the Gambles Terrace neighborhood in St. John’s, the capital city, major structures were still intact and houses showed no significant damage. A few fallen branches littered the streets.


Pope’s plane is forced to change route.


Pope Francis boarding a plane at Fiumicino Airport near Rome before a flight to Colombia. The pilot changed the flight path to avoid Hurricane Irma. CreditOSSERVATORE ROMANO, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The plane flying Pope Francis to Colombia had to change its flight path to avoid Hurricane Irma.

The special Alitalia jetliner, which left Rome on Wednesday morning, was originally scheduled to fly over Puerto Rico and Venezuela before entering Colombian airspace, Reuters reported.

The revised route takes it south of Puerto Rico, flying over the islands of Barbados, Grenada, Tobago and Trinidad.


Maps: Tracking the Path of Hurricane Irma

A new Category 5 storm is bearing down on the Caribbean and could make landfall in Florida this weekend.


In Puerto Rico, wary of rising waters.


The sea rose in Fajardo, P.R., on Tuesday. The island’s governor warned that flooding was a concern.CreditRicardo Arduengo/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Irma was expected to pass just north of Puerto Rico, which could help the island avoid major damage, but the authorities still warned residents to watch for rising waters.

“We are letting people know there is an expectation of six to eight inches of rain, with some areas receiving up to 12 inches,” Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló said at a televised briefing Wednesday morning. “This is a cause of concern for flooding in Puerto Rico. As the history with Harvey states, flooding can become the major cause of death in events of this nature.”

Mr. Rosselló said that about 700 people had sought refuge in shelters across the island, including many in Ponce, on the southern coast. He urged people to leave low-lying areas, and said that the authorities had not yet had to call out the National Guard to get people to leave.

“We are asking citizens to be mindful of the risks,” he said. “Help us help you.”

Puerto Rico was last hit by a Category 5 storm nearly a century ago, said Bryan Norcross, a hurricane specialist at the Weather Channel. That hurricane, known as San Felipe, killed more than 2,700 people in Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico and Florida in September 1928, according to The Associated Press.

Officials in Puerto Rico warned that the island’s fragile electrical grid could be shut down for months in some areas. Mr. Rosselló warned that the powerful winds could thrash the island, its infrastructure, houses and the phone system.

The hurricane could not have come at a worse time for Puerto Rico. The island is the throes of an economic crisis and does not have money for rebuilding.


Stoic residents say major storms are a fact of life.

As the storm bore down late on Tuesday, many residents of the Leeward Islands sounded stoic and battle-tested, saying powerful storms were a fact of life in the region.

“We grew up with this stuff,” Joseph John, a surgeon in Antigua, said by telephone. “We build for it. We have the necessary sustenance for it, like water, generators and so forth, shutters and all that.”

Dr. John, who lives on the coast, was spending the night with a friend who lives inland.

But he and others acknowledged that with the promise of record-high winds, Hurricane Irma could be a new experience for the islands.

“This one is a superstorm, so people are very uptight about this,” he said. “We’re talking 185 right now. I can’t recall any hurricane packing on 185 in my lifetime,” he added, referring to winds of 185 miles per hour.

“There are tons of homes here that aren’t prepared for it obviously,” the surgeon continued, saying that many of the substandard dwellings were in lower-income neighborhoods. “What the heck is going to happen, we don’t know.”


Residents of St. Petersburg, Fla., filled sandbags on Tuesday as they prepared for Hurricane Irma.CreditLara Cerri/Tampa Bay Times, via Associated Press

On Wednesday, Elias Hadeed, a retired structural engineer and general contractor in Antigua, said that from his perspective, the storm was “much better than expected.” By 6 a.m., he said, the rains had stopped and there had been “no extensive damage” to his garden and his reinforced concrete home.

He said in a text message, “We are lucky that it shifted a little bit to the north of Antigua, but feel sad for the people in our sister island Barbuda.”

In St. Kitts and Nevis, Commissioner Ian Queeley of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force said in a text message on Wednesday that the early reports were encouraging. “Not too bad at this time,” he wrote. “Still plenty rain and strong winds.”


Live Webcam St-Barth – Port de Gustavia Video by St-Barth LiveCam

Six islands in the Bahamas are evacuated.

“The price you may pay for not evacuating is your life or serious physical harm,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis of the Bahamas warned residents.

Evacuees from the southern part of the island chain were being flown to Nassau, the capital, on Wednesday, The A.P. said. Mr. Minnis called the operation the “largest evacuation” in Bahamian history.

Miami area and the Florida Keys are taking no chances.


Purchasing plywood in Miami on Wednesday to prepare for Hurricane Irma. Most projections have the storm arriving in Florida by Sunday. CreditJoe Raedle/Getty Images

In Miami-Dade County, Florida’s most populous, the memory of the damage brought in 1992 by Hurricane Andrew, a Category 5 storm, spurred residents to prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Irma earlier than usual.

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump tweeted: “Watching hurricane closely. My team, which has done, and is doing, such a good job in Texas, is already in Florida. No rest for the weary!”

Most projections have Irma slamming into the state by Sunday, although it was unclear where it might make landfall.

Gov. Rick Scott activated the state National Guard and declared a state of emergency.

Evacuation orders for Miami-Dade County were expected Wednesday or early Thursday, Mayor Carlos Gimenez said. Hundreds of thousands of residents are likely to leave their homes as a precaution for what is expected to be unprecedented coastal flooding.

The county expected to open shelters on Wednesday, and ordered schools closed on Thursday.

The Florida Keys, a vulnerable chain of islands, were under a mandatory evacuation order: Wednesday morning for visitors and Wednesday evening for residents. The islands’ three hospitals began evacuating patients on Tuesday.

Hurricane Harvey in Texas was weighing heavily on people’s minds.

“I think because of Texas, people are freaking out,” said Yoseyn Ramos, 24, a Miami resident who said she was worried because she could not find gas anywhere.

Watching Tropical Storm Jose, and Katia.

The National Hurricane Center said that Jose was expected to become a hurricane Wednesday night, and that Tropical Storm Katia had formed in the Gulf of Mexico.


Hurricane Irma: Live updates


Hurricane Irma was upgraded to a dangerous Category 5 storm early Tuesday as it churned through the Atlantic Ocean. The National Hurricane Center revealed in a 7:45 a.m. advisory that Irma’s sustained wind strength had increased to 175 mph.

HURRICANES – TYPHOONS As Texas floodwaters recede, dangers abound


As Texas floodwaters recede, dangers abound

Alligators, toxic waters, mold and risk of electrocution are just a few of the myriad dangers greeting Houston residents returning to their flood-ravaged homes on Friday, as the toll of Hurricane Harvey continues to be felt long after the rains have subsided.

Even as the Lone Star State began to dry out, the stagnant water pooled in streets and drenched into carpets continued to make life perilous.

“There’s no need to test it,” Houston Health Department spokesperson Porfirio Villarreal told The New York Times. “It’s contaminated. There’s millions of contaminants.”

Simply stepping in the water posed risks.

“We’re telling people to avoid the floodwater as much as possible,” Villarreal said. “Don’t let your children play in it. And if you do touch it, wash it off. Remember, this is going to go on for weeks.”

Other officials warned household chemicals stored under sinks and in cabinets would now be mixed in with the several feet of flood waters that flowed into homes, further contaminating the area.

In many areas, streets had begun to dry out but remained clogged with soggy furniture, carpet and wood.

Health experts warned that sewage in the floodwater could make people sick and that mosquito populations could explode in the coming weeks because stagnant water offers abundant breeding grounds.

The residents of Beaumont, near the Texas-Louisiana line, lost their public water supply, and Texas’ abundance of private wells supplying drinking water also posed another problem.

Dr. David Persee, Houston’s director of Emergency Medical Services, told The New York Times, though officials were monitoring the drinking water, the well owner was ultimately responsible for ensuring the water was safe for drinking.

“In the City of Houston, we have folks that use well water but we strongly recommend against it – and this will sound awful – we don’t take responsibility for it,” Persse said.

Electrical dangers also loomed.

On Tuesday in Houston, Andrew Pasek died after he stepped into a yard where a landscape light had electrified the flood water, KTRK reported.

“They couldn’t even help my son. They couldn’t resuscitate him. He was in electrified water,” Andrew’s mother, Jodell Pasek, said.

Harvey has already claimed at least 39 lives, and rescue workers searching door-to-door knew that figure could still rise.

“We don’t think we’re going to find any humans, but we’re prepared if we do,” said District Chief James Pennington of the Houston Fire Department.

After electricity and backup generators failed at a Crosby chemical plant, temperature controls ceased to work and explosions began to spontaneously occur.

The Environmental Protection Agency and Texas environmental regulators called the health risks minimal in Crosby, but urged residents downwind to stay indoors with windows closed to avoid inhaling the smoke.

The Texas environmental agency called the smoke “especially acrid and irritating” and said it could impair breathing and inflame the eyes, nose and throat.”

In Anahuac, armed alligator farm employees took to boats to guard their flooding business, ready to stop the 350 alligators inside from making their way out, The Washington Post reported.

Meanwhile, despite food drives and donations, a Port Arthur police sergeant told The Washington Post his city was running out of food and people were continuing to pour into its shelters.

With temperatures likely to climb to the low 90s over the weekend, residents were warned about the dangers of heat exhaustion, especially for people who lost power or must toil outdoors.

Man fatally shot on Far South Side, 12 others wounded in city shootings

Man fatally shot on Far South Side, 12 others wounded in city shootings

Lloyd Sanders was coming home from work early Thursday when the police lights in his Morgan Park neighborhood grabbed his attention.

He walked closer to the crime scene near Ashland Avenue and Monterey Avenue, on the Far South Side. As he got closer, he recognized the man on the ground as one of his neighbors.

“I had to go tell his girlfriend,” Sanders said.

The man, who had not yet been identified, had been shot multiple times about 5 a.m. Thursday, Chicago police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police did not immediately have additional information about the shooting.

The man was left in a vacant lot on a small residential street. A couch and a garbage can could be seen next to the man’s body. Officers temporarily placed a white sheet over the body, his white slippers were still visible.

The victim’s girlfriend leaned on a minivan at the edge of the crime scene as she cried. A police detective stood near her.

Sanders has only lived in the neighborhood for about a year, but the man who was fatally shot Thursday was one of the first people he met.

“He was cool people,” Sanders said. “He was all right.”

The slain man was one of 13 people who were shot during an 11-hour period from Wednesday evening to early Thursday across the city, according to police.

In the Pilsen neighborhood, a 41-year-old man was seriously wounded in a shooting about 1 a.m. Thursday in the 1900 block of South Peoria Street, police said.

A woman, who did not want to be identified, woke up early Thursday to the sound of gunshots in her neighborhood. When she looked outside, she saw a man on the sidewalk and called 911.

After police arrived, she went outside and gave the man a glass of water. He told her he was thirsty.

Paramedics lifted the man, who had been shot in the chest, from the sidewalk and placed him on a stretcher. He held onto his cellphone as the paramedics placed him into the ambulance.

He was taken in serious condition to Stroger Hospital.

A man who had been with the victim declined to comment. Officers searched in groups for evidence from the shooting.

On the West Side, there were two separate triple shootings within four hours Wednesday.

Three men were shot about 11:30 p.m. in an attack in the 1400 block of South Avers Avenue in the Lawndale neighborhood.

A 38-year-old man was shot in the left shoulder, and another 38-year-old man was shot in the right arm, police said. A 33-year-old man was shot in the right foot. Their conditions were stabilized at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Police said the men were “uncooperative” with investigators, and the details of what led to the shooting was unclear early Thursday.

Another triple shooting took place on the city’s West Side just after 7:35 p.m. The three men were in front of a home in the Austin neighborhood in the 4900 block of West Augusta Boulevard when the shooter walked up to them and opened fire, police said.

A 37-year-old man was shot in the face and was in serious condition at Stroger Hospital; a 51-year-old man suffered a gunshot wound to the knee, and had his condition stabilized at Stroger; and 65-year-old man suffered a graze wound to the stomach and declined to be taken to a hospital.

Other shootings:

— About 11:20 p.m., a 22-year-old man was grazed on the left hand while he was standing outside in the 1500 block of South Komensky Avenue in the Lawndale neighborhood, police said. The shooter could have possibly been inside a passing car. His condition was stabilized at Mount Sinai Hospital.

— In South Austin, an 18-year-old man was shot in the abdomen about 9:20 p.m. while he was outside in the 4800 block of West Cortez Street, police said. A man, armed with a gun, walked up to him, leading to a struggle between the men. During the struggle, the gun went out, striking the 18-year-old man in the abdomen. His condition was stabilized at Stroger Hospital.

— In the West Garfield Park neighborhood about 9 p.m., a 28-year-old man was shot in the left hand while he was walking in the 400 block of South Kostner Avenue, police said. He took himself to West Suburban Medical Center, where his condition was stabilized.

— A 35-year-old man was shot in the head about 8:15 p.m. in the 7800 block of South East End Avenue in the South Shore neighborhood, police said. He was taken in serious condition to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Police did not release additional details about the shooting.

— Earlier Wednesday night, a 60-year-old man was wounded in a shooting in the Englewood neighborhood. It happened around 6:20 p.m. in the 6300 block of South Marshfield Avenue, police said in a media notification. The man was on foot in front of a home when a van pulled up and someone inside opened fire, hitting the man in his leg, police said. He was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn where his condition had stabilized, police said.

No arrests have been made.

Copyright © 2017, Chicago Tribune

Chicago crime information

For more on crime in the Chicago area, including detailed information on crime in each Chicago community area, check the Tribune’s crime page. For information on Chicago homicides, check the Tribune’s Chicago homicides page. Information on city shootings is linked on the shootings page.

Trump on North Korea missile launch: ‘All options are on the table’


Trump on North Korea missile launch: ‘All options are on the table’

President Trump said Tuesday that “all options are on the table” after North Korea launched a missile over Japan, an act that instantly renewed tensions in the region just days after the regime appeared to be backing down from threats against the U.S. and its allies.

“The world has received North Korea’s latest message loud and clear: this regime has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behavior,” Trump said, in a written statement released by the White House.

“Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime’s isolation in the region and among all nations of the world. All options are on the table,” the statement continued.

In a first, North Korea on Tuesday fired a midrange ballistic missile designed to carry a nuclear payload that flew over U.S. ally Japan and splashed into the northern Pacific Ocean.

The distance and type of missile test seemed designed to show that North Korea can back up a threat to target the U.S. territory of Guam, if it chooses to do so, while also establishing a potentially dangerous precedent that could see future missiles flying over Japan.

The White House said that Trump spoke Monday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about the “grave” North Korean threat. “President Trump and Prime Minister Abe committed to increasing pressure on North Korea, and doing their utmost to convince the international community to do the same,” the statement said.

Any new test worries Washington and its allies because it presumably puts the North a step closer toward its goal of an arsenal of nuclear missiles that can reliably target the United States. Tuesday’s test, however, looks especially aggressive to Washington, Seoul and Tokyo.

The Pentagon told reporters that it was investigating the launch over Japan, adding: “North American Aerospace Defense Command determined the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America.” U.S. officials said the Japanese military did not attempt to intercept the missile.

South Korea’s air force effectively fired back at North Korea’s missile launch over Japan by conducting a live-fire drill involving powerful bombs, officials said early Tuesday.

Four F-15 fighters dropped eight MK-84 bombs that accurately hit targets at a military field near South Korea’s eastern coast, Seoul’s presidential spokesman Park Su-hyun said. Each bomb has an explosive yield of a ton, according to the country’s air force.

Tuesday’s launch comes days after the North fired what was assessed as three short-range ballistic missiles into the sea and a month after its second test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, which analysts say could reach deep into the U.S. mainland when perfected.

Trump responded earlier this month by threatening Kim Jong Un’s regime with “fire and fury,” touching off an escalating war of words. Kim eventually walked back threats to attack the U.S. territory of Guam, temporarily easing tensions — until the latest round of provocations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Trump on North Korea missile launch: ‘All options are on the table’


Trump on North Korea missile launch: ‘All options are on the table’

President Trump said Tuesday that “all options are on the table” after North Korea launched a missile over Japan, an act that instantly renewed tensions in the region just days after the regime appeared to be backing down from threats against the U.S. and its allies.

“The world has received North Korea’s latest message loud and clear: this regime has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behavior,” Trump said, in a written statement released by the White House.

“Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime’s isolation in the region and among all nations of the world. All options are on the table,” the statement continued.

In a first, North Korea on Tuesday fired a midrange ballistic missile designed to carry a nuclear payload that flew over U.S. ally Japan and splashed into the northern Pacific Ocean.

The distance and type of missile test seemed designed to show that North Korea can back up a threat to target the U.S. territory of Guam, if it chooses to do so, while also establishing a potentially dangerous precedent that could see future missiles flying over Japan.

The White House said that Trump spoke Monday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about the “grave” North Korean threat. “President Trump and Prime Minister Abe committed to increasing pressure on North Korea, and doing their utmost to convince the international community to do the same,” the statement said.

Any new test worries Washington and its allies because it presumably puts the North a step closer toward its goal of an arsenal of nuclear missiles that can reliably target the United States. Tuesday’s test, however, looks especially aggressive to Washington, Seoul and Tokyo.

The Pentagon told reporters that it was investigating the launch over Japan, adding: “North American Aerospace Defense Command determined the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America.” The U.S. Missile Defense Agency said the Japanese military did not attempt to intercept the missile.

South Korea’s air force effectively fired back at North Korea’s missile launch over Japan by conducting a live-fire drill involving powerful bombs, officials said early Tuesday.

Four F-15 fighters dropped eight MK-84 bombs that accurately hit targets at a military field near South Korea’s eastern coast, Seoul’s presidential spokesman Park Su-hyun said. Each bomb has an explosive yield of a ton, according to the country’s air force.

Tuesday’s launch comes days after the North fired what was assessed as three short-range ballistic missiles into the sea and a month after its second test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, which analysts say could reach deep into the U.S. mainland when perfected.

Trump responded earlier this month by threatening Kim Jong Un’s regime with “fire and fury,” touching off an escalating war of words. Kim eventually walked back threats to attack the U.S. territory of Guam, temporarily easing tensions — until the latest round of provocations.

HOUSTON: Flooding along key city bayou hits ‘catastrophic’ levels

HOUSTON: Flooding along key city bayou hits ‘catastrophic’ levels

1:15 a.m. update: The Army Corps of Engineers began to open two far west Harris County dams hours ahead of schedule, which will eventually add a torrent of water — tens of thousands of gallons of water per second — onto an already flooded major city bayou.

Officials in Harris County opened the Addicks and Barker dams at 11:59 p.m., releasing 800 cubic feet of water per second, per second into a swollen Buffalo Bayou, which has already spilled over its banks and into neighborhoods across Houston. That relative trickle will build to a gusher over the next 6 to 8 hours, eventually topping out at 8,000 cubic feet of water — roughly 60,000 gallons — of water flowing into the bayou every second.

The Corps opened both dams far earlier than the 2 a.m. opening initially planned for Addicks and nearly 12 hours before the 11 a.m. time initially scheduled for Barker.

“There’s just the changing weather conditions,” said Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Randy Cephus, pinning the dramatic timetable change to heavy rains to the north. “More recent modeling led us to make this decision at this time.”

At an earlier news conference, Harris County officials said the influx of additional water into the bayou would only amount to a marginal increase in the amount of water already flowing.

11:10 p.m. update: The rain came and came across Houston on Sunday night, letting up for only a brief respite before returning with a vengeance — and pushing flooding along a key city bayou to “catastrophic” levels, authorities said.

“Buffalo Bayou at (West Beltway 8) is 7.28 ft above flood stage,” Jeff Lindner, one of Harris County government’s top meteorologists tweeted. “Catastrophic flooding is in progress.”

The dire warning from one of Houston’s top forecasters came as Tropical Storm Harvey’s bands of thunderstorms continued to pummel Houston, dropping more than four inches of rain in many neighborhoods across the city this evening alone, totals that will only grow as the night wears on.

That precipitation comes on top of morning rains, which came on top of 15-25 inches of overnight rain, which came on top of the few inches that fell Friday and Saturday — all of which have compounded to result in the massive flooding that have devastated broad swaths of the city.

The damage even extends to one of Houston’s treasured performing arts centers — its opera house. KHOU-TV confirmed rumors that flood waters had the first main stages of the Wortham Theater Center, which is home to both the Houston Ballet and the Houston Grand Opera.

10:30 p.m. update: Authorities ordered a voluntary partial evacuation of a subdivision in northern Harris County late Sunday as a nearby creek threatens to top its levy as soon as sunrise Monday morning.

The order covers residents who live north of Kingsbridge Road in the Inverness Forest Subdivision, which is located along FM1960, between Interstate 45 and the Hardy Toll Road, near George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

If Cypress Creek tops the levy, officials believe it could cause flooding that is up to 8 feet deep in places.

8:48 p.m. update: The Army Corps of Engineers announced Sunday evening it will begin a controlled release from two suburban flood control reservoirs in far west Harris County, in a move to prevent possible damage to the dams but could worsen flooding in already waterlogged West and Central Houston neighborhoods.

Harris County authorities have ordered voluntary evacuations for the subdivisions that directly abut the Addicks and Barker reservoirs, but emphasized there would be no need for mass evacuations from entire suburbs. The Addicks release is scheduled to begin Monday at 2a.m.; while the Barker release is set to begin Monday at 11 a.m.

“If the Corps of Engineers does not do controlled releases, that gets into a situation where there could potentially be a problem at the dam and that is something you don’t want to have happen,” said Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist with the Harris County Flood Control District. “The worst outcome is if the releases are not made.”

Engineers need to open the dams as a sort of pressure release valve because of the tremendous force the rapidly-swelling reservoirs have placed them. However, Lindner said the water would still be flowing into the reservoirs more rapidly than the Corps of Engineers releases it, which will result in flooding in the subdivisions near the reservoirs.

The release will also put more water into the already swollen Buffalo Bayou, which has flooded neighborhoods across West and Central Houston. While officials could not say exactly how much it could exacerbate that flooding, Linder said the increase would likely be marginal compared to the amount of water already moving through it.

6:32 p.m. update: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner told reporters this evening that about 1,000 residents, some in wet clothing, have checked in to the George R. Brown Convention Center, which the city opened as a shelter today with Tropical Storm Harvey continuing to pour rain.

“Please help us out,” Turner appealed, by not driving Houston’s roads with, he said, six inches to 10 inches of additional rain expected overnight.

Turner said too that 22 aircraft, including 16 provided by the Coast Guard, were employed during the day to spot residents waving for help from rooftops. Turner also tallied boats and high-water vehicles contributing to rescues.

“We have a number of needs that exist across the city,” Turner said, calling for Houstonians to be patient as the storm continues to affect the Bayou City for, he suggested, up to five days.

Turner added: “We know that the aftermath is going to require a lot of attention, a lot of effort, to bring people back to a sense of normalcy.”

Asked afresh if he regretted not ordering a mandatory evacuation of Houston, Turner said not.

5:45 p.m. update: By phone, Harris County’s chief elected official reaffirmed this afternoon that the county wants to hear from individuals with boats and vehicles that could be used—and soon—to rescue Houston-area residents threatened by rising waters.

Ed Emmett, the Harris County judge, said the outreach for such specific help, coordinated by the county’s fire marshal, had already resulted in hundreds of volunteers. Emmett said he couldn’t immediately estimate the number of boats or high-water vehicles temporarily committed to search-and-rescues.

Another county official, Chris Daniel, earlier posted this message on Facebook: “Harris County Judge Ed Emmett is asking for all Houston and surrounding area residents with boats or high-water vehicles to please call 713-881-3100 to help with rescue of people in neighborhoods before nightfall. Groups that need transport to shelters that are already on high ground (not individuals) are asked to call 713-426-9404 – a bus will be routed to your area.”

5:35 p.m. update: Gov. Greg Abbott spoke with MSNBC today, indicating he expects President Donald Trump to visit Texas someplace away from ongoing rescue efforts.

“I have spoken with the White House multiple times. I want you to know that the White House is very engaged and very hands on in helping the state of Texas. The location where the president is flying into will be out of harm’s way, will not be associated with where the storm will be at that time,” Abbott said. “It will be in an area where my Texas Department of Transportation is already involved in the cleanup as well as local authorities. So there is part of the state that is already on the pathway to healing while another part of the state is still suffering through immense damage.”

“I’ve spoken with the president and he’s been very supportive of our efforts and he’s provided tremendous aid to us. I’ve spoken both with his FEMA director and as the director Homeland Security. They are both fully engaged and very helpful,” Abbott said.

Abbott called offered help from Mexico “very important,” noting that he’d spoken with the office of Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, as well as officials from U.S. states—including New York’s Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo.

Abbott predicted that when Trump comes to Texas, he’ll “see great damage. He will, I think, be going close to where the hurricane came across land and there’s great devastation there. And he may even be able to see the flooding that’s taking place in Houston, Texas. And it’s just total devastation. And it will break his heart and it will humble him like it humbles all of us and I know it will spur him to be very helpful to our fellow Texans,” Abbott said.

5:16 p.m. update: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, says he appealed today to federal officials for “additional assets” vital to successful water rescue efforts as Tropical Storm Harvey hovers over his home city, Houston.

Cruz said in an interview by phone with Fox News that he asked FEMA for more flat-bottom boats, high-water vehicles and helicopters. “We are leaning hard and,” Cruz said, “we are getting enthusiastic cooperation.”

Cruz said that while his family home hasn’t flooded, he’s stunned by the waters rising elsewhere in Houston.

“I grew up, spent my whole life in Houston, and I’ve never seen anything like what we’re experiencing right now,” Cruz said.

4:07 p.m. update: Like news organizations including CNN and the Dallas Morning News, we have in hand a statement from the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, confirming that President Donald Trump plans to visit Texas on Tuesday.

Sanders said: “The President will travel to Texas on Tuesday. We are coordinating logistics with state and local officials, and once details are finalized, we will let you know. We continue to keep all of those affected in our thoughts and prayers.”

3:45 p.m. update: American-Statesman videographer Tina Phan’s video of Gov. Greg Abbott shows he told reporters in Austin today:

—“Obviously this is a very large disaster.”

—Tropical Storm Harvey is greatly affecting residents of a giant triangle stretching from Corpus Christi on the Gulf of Mexico to Travis County to Chambers County back to Corpus Christi. Some 250 roads have been closed in the same region. To check on closures, go to this web link.

—“Texans need to be prepared for more rainfall tonight—on occasion, very heavy rainfall.”

—Stay on, or get to, high ground. “Whether you’re on ground or in a building, try to get as high as you can.”

—“This likely is going to be an historic rainfall, if not an all-time record in the amount of rain that is sustained in certain regions.”

—Rescue assistance has come in from federal agencies and the states of Nebraska, Tennessee, Utah, California, Missouri, Ohio, Arizona and New York.

—Texas Parks & Wildlife Department wardens helped in 19 water rescues in Bastrop County on Saturday.

—To make a donation, call 1-800-REDCROSS or go to this web link.

2:45 p.m. update: President Donald Trump plans to visit a Texas site—which one, to be determined—on Tuesday, the Dallas Morning News says:

2:40 p.m. update: A Coast Guard commander, Karl Schultz, said this afternoon no one should presume the worst effects of Tropical Storm Harvey have passed.

Schultz, joining Gov. Greg Abbott at a state emergency center in Austin, told reporters: “This is a very very dangerous storm with catastrophic circumstances.”

“We are in for a very significant water event in the coming days,” Schultz said.

Schultz said the Coast Guard had already sent out eight helicopters to search for people needing assistance as bands of rain persist and another eight are coming. Also, Schultz said, “we’re putting more boats out on the water from all parts of the country.”

2:25 p.m update: Gov. Greg Abbott this afternoon said the state seeks federal designation of additional counties for disaster declarations potentially enabling faster relief.

Abbott said he’s asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to add 12 Texas counties to presidential disaster declarations granted last week in advance of Hurricane Harvey’s arrival.

Now, Abbott said, “many parts of Eastern Texas, especially in and around Houston, are experiencing historic flooding causing the need to grow for additional resources.”

Counties that were already granted the designation: Bee, Goliad, Kleberg, Nueces, San Patricio, and Refugio counties.

Abbott, who earlier designated 50 counties as state disaster zones, seeks disaster declarations for these additional counties: Aransas, Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Jackson, Liberty, Matagorda, Victoria and Wharton.

Abbott, addressing reporters at a state emergency action center, listed out state “assets” including aircraft, ambulances and boats dispatched to help Texans slammed by Tropical Storm Harvey, declaring: “We are still moving hundreds of evacuees to safe locations” across the region stretching from Corpus Christi north into Houston. “Our top priority is to protect human life,” Abbott said.

Buses are lined up to haul residents of Houston to safety, Abbott said, and food relief will be delivered starting Monday in Rockport, Port Aransas, Aransas Pass, Ingleside and Portland, all of them towns inundated by high winds and water as then-Hurricane Harvey came ashore Friday into Saturday. Referring to local residents, Abbott said: “They now know the cavalry is coming.”

Abbott indicated he wasn’t ready to address decisions by local officials, in some cases, not to order residents to evacuate in advance of the hurricane’s arrival. “Now is not the time to second-guess the decisions that were made,” Abbott said.

Asked to comment on reports that Houston-area authorities are running light on rescue boats and high-water vehicles, Abbott replied: “We’re providing to Houston every asset they’ve asked for,” including about 20 air assets, he said, 60 boats and “countless” high-water vehicles. The governor said too the state stands ready to provide more on request.

1:49 p.m. update: The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency told a newspaper today Hurricane Harvey may add up to the worst disaster to hit Texas—ever.

“This will be a devastating disaster, probably the worst disaster the state’s seen,” William “Brock” Long, confirmed as FEMA’s administrator in June, told The Washington Post in an interview. “The recovery to this event is going to last many years, to be able to help Texas and the people impacted by this event achieve a new normal,” Long said.

1:13 p.m. update: A Williamson County town has the existing rainfall record, Michael Barnes of the Austin American-Statesman noted in this reminder.

Thirty-eight inches of rain fell in Thrall, east of Taylor, in a little more than 18 hours in September 1921. The floods ran quickly off baked prairie soil to inundate Brushy and Salado creeks, as well as the San Gabriel and Little rivers. People had scant chance to escape; more than 170 Central Texans died.

1:06 p.m. update: Jenna Bush Hager ranks among many urging donations to the Red Cross. Her tweet today:

12:41 p.m. update: Harris County emergency officials made a plea for people with rescue boats:

12:35 p.m. update: Harris County Judge Ed Emmett announced the evacuation of Ben Taub Hospital at a midday press conference where he also said residents need to help one another.

As recapped by the Houston Chronicle, Emmett also said help is coming into the Houston from state and federal officials, but for the interim local residents need to rely on one another.

“We cannot wait for assets to come from outside,” Emmett said.

As water drenches the region, he said equipment such as boats and high water vehicles cannot get into the area.

“We are asking the public to help,” Emmett said. “We need your help.

12:24 p.m. update: Houston’s KHOU is reporting that Harris County’s Ben Taub Hospital is being evacuated:

12:15 p.m. update: The National Weather Service predicts up to 50 inches of rain in some places:

11:55 a.m. update: After spotting unconfirmed reports of water seeping into a major Houston hospital, we asked the Harris County Health System about the status of Ben Taub Hospital. The tweeted reply, indicating some water getting in but not a dire emergency. “”Patient care is ongoing,” the system said, “but no new patients can get in.”

11:49 a.m. update: Brazoria County is ordering some residents to evacuate, the Houston Chronicle reports.

The newspaper says Brazoria County officials have issued a mandatory evacuation order for all areas west of Texas 288 and south of Texas 6, covering roughly the entire western half of the county.

“We’re asking your citizens to please pack your things and evacuate now,” Brazoria County Judge Matt Sebesta was quoted saying. County officials said people should leave the area via Texas 35 west, then take Texas 71 north to Interstate 10.

11:31 a.m. update: Gov. Greg Abbott will update the state on conditions and you can watch on the American-Statesman site here. Abbott is expected to speak within the half hour.

11:20 a.m. update: In a fresh briefing, the National Weather Service says Tropical Storm Harvey is on a path to travel southeast before looping back ashore—Tuesday into Wednesday.

The service says the storm is now centered near Cuero in Southeast Texas and “will continue southeast and emerge just offshore of the Mid Texas coast Monday night. Harvey is then forecast to make a loop and come back onshore into Southeast Texas Tuesday into Wednesday as a” tropical storm, the service says.

Some parts might see less rainfall than feared, the service says.

“Some drier air has worked into the southwest and west side of Harvey, and when combined with the more easterly track we anticipate slightly lower rainfall amounts across the I-35 corridor near San Antonio,” the service says, though heavy rainfalls in bands north and east of the storm could produce life-threatening flash floods—with the greatest threat east of I-35 and I-37.”

11:13 a.m. update: The M.D. Anderson Cancer Center will continue to treat patients, a spokesman says this morning, though flooding poses challenges.

From Brette Peyton: “ALL MD Anderson Cancer Center locations will remain closed for outpatient services and appointments, as well as surgeries, on Sunday, Aug. 27, and Monday, Aug. 28, due to severe weather in the Houston area. Only inpatient hospital care areas will remain active. If there are immediate medical needs, patients should access care at their local hospitals. Patient appointments will be rescheduled once the weather emergency has been resolved.

“Currently, roads around the Texas Medical Center Campus are impassable. Patients and staff should not attempt to travel,” Peyton said.

11:10 a.m. update:

Gov. Greg Abbott responds to a person asking how to help, on Twitter:

11:05 a.m. update:

This event is unprecedented & all impacts are unknown & beyond anything experienced. Follow orders from officials to ensure safety. #Harvey— NWS (@NWS) August 27, 2017

10:55 a.m. update: Texan Michael McCaul told Fox News in a morning interview that all Texas ports are closed except the one in Brownsville. Rep. McCaul, R-Austin, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, further credited Gov. Greg Abbott and President Donald Trump with identifying counties for federal disaster declarations before Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast.

“This has been one of the best responses to one of the worst hurricanes I’ve seen in my lifetime hit the coast of Texas,” McCaul said, adding that up to two feet more of rain could hit Houston. McCaul was interviewed the same morning that President Trump tweeted out praise for hurricane responses in Texas.

10:31 a.m. update: Exxon Mobil is shutting down the nation’s second-largest refining complex in Baytown as the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey wreaks havoc, the Houston Chronicle reports.

The Baytown campus, which also produces petrochemicals, can churn out up to 560,000 barrels of fuel a day, a major source of the Gulf Coast and nation’s gasoline supplies. “Safety is our first priority, and we have taken all the precautions to minimize impact to community and employees throughout the shutdown process,” Exxon Mobil spokeswoman Suann Guthrie said.

Previously, refineries were shuttered temporarily in Corpus Christi by Valero Energy, Citgo Petroleum and Flint Hills Resources and Harvey prepared to make landfall. Now Houston refining corridor is beginning to close.

More than 25 percent of the nation’s fuel supplies are produced just along the Texas Gulf Coast.

10:01 a.m. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner just said: “The flooding has occurred all over.” He reminded too that the rains are expected to persist over several days. “Every bayou went over its banks.”

Turner said some 40 rescue boats are expected through the day. He said too the city will continue to open as many rescue shelters as needed and the George R. Brown Convention Center has been opened to people in need as well.

“If you are there and need help, we will get to you,” Turner said.

Turner defended his decision not to earlier order a mandatory evacuation of Houston. Doing so would have touched off an exit traffic-clogged “nightmare,” Turner said. (Before the hurricane made landfall, Gov. Greg Abbott urged anyone in its path to consider evacuating.)

“If water is in your home, let me encourage you not to come up into the attic,” Turner said, unless “you know there is an exit out.” Separately, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo has said that if you enter an attic, make sure and have an axe to get out.

Turner also said a lot of calls are coming in to the county’s 911 number, but not a lot are “life threatening.”

9:50 a.m. Flooding, or anticipated flooding, is touching off law-enforcement decisions—lately including a mandatory order in La Grange for residents to evacuate, as reported here. The Colorado River is projected to crest there at 3 a.m. Monday.

Hays County authorities rescued a few people overnight Saturday but otherwise the situation isn’t dire yet, according to a press release issued this morning.

“The city of San Marcos has been very fortunate so far, but there is the potential for more severe weather later tonight and through mid-week,” San Marcos Mayor John Thomaides said in the release. “This lull in the storm is a good time

8 a.m. update:

HOUSTON — It was supposed to be bad. It wasn’t supposed to be this bad.

Thunderstorms pummeled this city overnight Saturday as Tropical Storm Harvey stalled out again, dropping more nearly two feet of rain in some residential neighborhoods, which triggered widespread flooding that is already blamed for five deaths.

To the south, it was even worse. More than two feet of rain fell at the National Weather Center’s Houston office in League City, about 30 miles south of Houston proper. Emergency responders turned swamped freeway overpasses into ramps to launch rescue boats, Houston Chronicle reporter Dug Begley tweeted early Sunday morning.

Gov. Greg Abbott told Fox News that damage from Harvey will be in the billions of dollars statewide.

President Donald Trump took to Twitter this morning to say, “I will be going to Texas as soon as that trip can be made without causing disruption. The focus must be life and safety.”

Throughout Friday and much of Saturday, Houston’s bayous gamely kept up with Harvey’s wrath. But the foot-plus of rain that fell over virtually every part of the city overnight proved to be too much. Water spilled over banks of the bayou and into surrounding neighborhoods.

Officials here have reported performing at least 1,000 high-water rescues with thousands more needed as homes were inundated by the water. The 911 system here was so overwhelmed that officials begged Houstonians to only use it if they were in immediate danger.

The weather forecast shows no reprieve in sight for this city and county of 4.5 million people. Rain, including more torrential downpours, remains in the forecast for the rest of today.

6:40 a.m. update: Five people are reported dead in Houston as Tropical Storm Harvey has dumped up to 30 inches of rain, the Houston Chronicle is reporting.

“It’s catastrophic, unprecedented, epic — whatever adjective you want to use,” Patrick Blood, a National Weather Service meteorologist, told the Chronicle. “It’s pretty horrible right now.”

The newspaper reported the weather service said five people have died in the Houston area in unconfirmed flood-related deaths.

Computer models show continued rounds of thunderstorms spawned by Harvey, which has been downgraded from a hurricane to tropical storm. Blood said the Houston area can expect at least an additional 15 to 25 inches over the next few days.

6 a.m. update: Emergency workers in Houston are overwhelmed with calls for water rescues, having responded to “hundreds” as of early Sunday, the Houston Chronicle is reporting. Three people have been reported dead.

Houston police officials also evacuated two apartment complexes in Greenspoint, rescuing more than 50 children from rising flood waters overnight.

A mother and child have apparently died in flood waters on Interstate 10, the newspaper reported, bringing Houston’s Harvey death toll to three.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez tweeted at 2:41 a.m. about an unconfirmed report that a female and child were inside a submerged vehicle along Interstate 10 near Lathrop.

A woman who allegedly tried to exit her flooded car near the Buffalo Bayou became the city’s first fatality Saturday night, authorities said.

“It breaks your heart,” Acevedo said via a livestream on Twitter, as he stood in waist-high water in north Houston. “But, it’s Texas, we’ll get through it.”

Some neighborhoods have been hit with more than 15 inches of rain, the Chronicle reported, forcing some residents to flee to their attics, especially along Interstate 45 between downtown and Clear Lake, including parts of Pasadena.

Officials with the National Weather Service called the flooding “catastrophic” and “life-threatening,” and authorities urged people to stay off the roads.

The Harris County sheriff’s office reminded residents that non life-threatening water inside home that was not threatening life is safer than going outside. “Difficult & scary, but we’ll get to you,” the office said in a tweet. “Pls shelter in place. Be safe.”

The National Weather Service in Houston warned residents to seek shelter on a roof if the highest floor inside the house becomes dangerous.

3:30 a.m. update: Some in Houston are climbing into attics to flee rising flood waters, the Houston Chronicle is reporting.

“Have reports of people getting into attic to escape flood waters,” tweeted Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, Austin’s previous police chief. “Do not do so unless you have an ax or means to break through onto your roof.”

Those reports were coming from areas along Interstate 45 between downtown Houston and Clear Lake, the Chronicle reported.

Early Sunday, the Harris County sheriff tweeted that there were reports of several submerged vehicles on Interstate 10 at Lathrop and added that, while it was unconfirmed, crews were investigating reports that one of the vehicles possibly had a deceased woman and child inside.

Earlier: HOUSTON — A miles-long string of booming thunderstorms from Tropical Storm Harvey brought torrential rains overnight Saturday that flooded city streets, drowning one person.

            HOUSTON: Flooding along key city bayou hits ‘catastrophic’ levels

Fox cut away from report on “life-threatening” hurricane for six minutes of Powerball “breaking news”

Fox cut away from report on “life-threatening” hurricane for six minutes of Powerball “breaking news”

Previous Fox lottery coverage told people to “buy as many tickets as you can afford.

However, while Brennan was explaining the serious threat posed by the hurricane, co-host Jon Scott interrupted him, saying “we have got breaking news.” Fox then went to six uninterrupted minutes of “the Powerball jackpot winner … being revealed a very rich, rich woman today.”

Intentionally or otherwise, Fox’s programming decision to interrupt a Hurricane Harvey report with the Powerball winner downplays the dangers posed by severe weather. This is also not Fox’s first rendezvous with terrible lottery coverage: In 2016, Fox offered the advice that you can increase your odds of winning the Powerball if you “buy as many tickets as you can afford,” which is clearly not advisable. From the August 24 edition of Fox News’ Happening Now:

MICHAEL BRENNAN: We’re worried about three potentially life-threatening hazards with Hurricane Harvey. First is the wind. We are — we’ve seen Harvey intensify very, very quickly today, as it’s now become a hurricane, and as it moves off to the northwest, we’re expecting it to strengthen further, as you mentioned potentially reaching major hurricane intensity before making landfall somewhere in the middle Texas coast, Friday night or early Saturday. So, there is a wind hazard that comes with that. But we’re also expecting life-threatening storm surge in the area from Port Mansfield all the way up to San Luis Pass is under a storm surge warning, and that means we think there’s the danger of life-threatening inundation from storm surge, and in the middle portion of this area we expect 6 to 10 feet of inundation from storm surge at the coast as Harvey makes landfall. The other complicating factor for Harvey is that once it makes landfall, it’s going to move inland and just meander around southeastern Texas for several days, likely into the early portions of next week, and that is going to lead it to extremely heavy rainfall. We could see rainfall values over a widespread area, of 12 to 20 inches —

JON SCOTT (CO-HOST): Michael. Michael, I am sorry, we have got breaking news as well. Michael Brennan. Thank you.

HEATHER CHILDERS (CO-HOST): And now we’re going to take you to the Powerball jackpot winner, who is being revealed a very rich, rich woman today — $759 million. The Powerball winner coming forward in Massachusetts.

Trump Strongly Hints at Pardon for Ex-Sheriff Arpaio

Trump Strongly Hints at Pardon for Ex-Sheriff Arpaio

PHOENIX, Ariz. — President Donald Trump strongly hinted Tuesday night that he might pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio, saying Arpaio will be “just fine” despite being found guilty of criminal contempt for violating a court order.

“Do the people in this room like Sheriff Joe?” Trump asked the thousands of supporters gathered here for a campaign-style rally. The crowd erupted into chants of “pardon Joe!”

“Was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job?” the president asked. Arpaio is a former Maricopa County, Arizona, law enforcement officer, who ignored a court order to stop detaining suspected undocumented immigrants.

 Trump Hints at Pardon for Sheriff Joe Arpaio 1:02

Trump had been rumored to be considering a pardon for Arpaio, an early and outspoken supporter. He told Fox News last weekend he was “seriously considering” a pardon for the former sheriff, a folk hero among conservatives and a lightning rod for critics of his aggressive immigration crackdowns.

But the White House said before Trump’s campaign rally that a pardon would not come during Tuesday’s event.

“I won’t do it tonight,” the president told the crowd, adding that he wanted to avoid causing “any controversy.”

Image: Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announces newly launched program aimed at providing security around schools in Anthem, Arizona
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announces newly launched program aimed at providing security around schools on January 9, 2013 in Anthem, Arizona. file Laura Segall / Reuters file

Arpaio told NBC News earlier Tuesday the decision not to pardon him in Phoenix was “their decision — right now.”

“I’ve been with him from day one, and I’ll always be with him and support him,” Arpaio said.

Arpaio served as sheriff for 24 years before losing his re-election bid last November.

A judge ruled last month that the former sheriff had committed a crime by flouting the order not to detain suspected undocumented immigrants. The decision was widely seen as a rebuke of a law enforcement official whose tactics — including housing immigrants in a tent city and forcing detainees to wear pink underwear — had long been divisive.

In 2013, a judge found Arpaio and his deputies had engaged in racial profiling against Latinos, backing up the findings of a 2011 Justice Department report.

Arpaio’s sentencing is set to start on Oct. 5. He intends to appeal the verdict.

 Trump Lashes Out at Media Over Coverage of Charlottesville Remarks 1:20

In a free-wheeling speech that lasted more than an hour, Trump also renewed his offensive against the media, indicting news outlets for giving “a platform to hate groups,” blaming journalists for “division in our country,” and defending himself by reading to supporters his responses to the rally of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, last week.

The president said his words at the time were “perfect” — noting that he condemned the KKK and white nationalists — and charged the media’s coverage was biased against him, alleging a “double standard” from the coverage President Barack Obama received on race-related issues.

Trump, however, did not mention that he had blamed “both sides” for violence — a comment which drew such widespread criticism at the time.

While critics from both parties suggested Trump’s reaction to Charlottesville deepened racial divides in the U.S., Trump instead instructed the crowd that to discover the “source of the division in our country, look no further than the fake news.”

“The only people giving a platform to these hate groups is the media itself and the fake news,” he added.

Image: A demonstrator taunts police while Trump speaks in Phoenix, Arizona.
A demonstrator taunts police while Trump speaks in Phoenix, Arizona. Sandy Huffaker / Reuters

But Trump’s discussion of national issues also took a local turn Tuesday. Though he didn’t name names — in what he called a “very presidential” move — he indirectly criticized both Arizona senators, John McCain, who is battling brain cancer, and Jeff Flake, who is facing a tough re-election. Both are Republicans.

After Trump repeatedly lamented that “one vote!” had prevented Republicans from advancing efforts to repeal Obamacare, the crowd chanted “McCain’s gotta go!” McCain had opposed the GOP bill.

“And nobody wants me to talk about your other senator,” Trump said, moving on to Flake — whom the president called weak on crime and illegal immigration.

Trump also showed a willingness to shut down the government if that’s what it takes to get funding for his long-promised border wall with Mexico. “If we have to close our government, we are building that wall,” he said, referring to the budget battles that lie ahead as Congress considers whether to spend billions on the wall.

Outside the venue, four protesters were arrested, police said, for offences including aggravated assault and criminal damage.

“They broke down fencing and at one point dispersed gas into and at the officers,” Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams told reporters.

USS John S. McCain: Remains Found of Some U.S. Sailors Missing in Warship Crash



USS John S. McCain: Remains Found of Some U.S. Sailors Missing in Warship Crash


The remains of “some” American sailors have been found in sealed compartments aboard the USS John S. McCain, Adm. Scott Swift of the U.S. Pacific Command said Tuesday.

Swift said the Malaysian Navy, which has been involved in the search, has also located “potential” remains and they are working to confirm and identify those discovered.

The Navy vessel suffered significant damage to its hull when it was hit by the Alnic MC, a 30,000-ton chemical and oil tanker sailing under the Liberian flag.

Ten sailors have been missing since the incident which occurred Monday. Swift did not identify who or how many people the remains belonged to.

“Its premature to say how many and what the status recovery of those bodies is,” he told reporters.

 Pacific Fleet Commander Describes How Crew Responded to Warship Collision 1:08

Video footage of the USS John S. McCain released Monday showed a gaping hole in the vessel where the impact occurred.

The collision is the fourth in a year involving a U.S. Navy vessel.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson announced Monday that Navy operations would be paused around the world and a full safety review ordered.

The USS John S. McCain arrived at Changi Naval Base Monday where damage control efforts halted further flooding.

The warship was on its way to a routine port visit in Singapore when the collision occurred.

Navy Divers accessed sealed compartments located in damaged parts of the ship and conducted assessments of the hull and flooded areas, a statement from the U.S. Navy said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, ships from the Malaysian and Singaporean navies continued to provide search and rescue assistance alongside U.S. helicopters and vessels near the site of the crash the statement added.

Yet quite how the Navy vessel, which is 505 feet in length, collided with the 600-foot Alnic MC remains unclear.

Swift offered no further details on the cause of the crash but said the search and recovery mission continued and that a thorough investigation would be carried out.

 Was USS John McCain collision due to hacking? 1:34

Those thoughts were echoed earlier Tuesday by Admiral Harry B. Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, said the Navy was “working with our friends in Singapore and other nations in the region to help in the search and rescue effort.”

Harris added that the operational suspension was important due to “a number of unfortunate incidents in the navy recently.”

On June 17, the USS Fitzgerald crashed into a Japanese merchant ship, killing seven sailors. The ship’s three senior officers were relieved of their duties after an investigation found the sailors responsible for watching the bridge “lost situational awareness” and that “serious mistakes were made by the crew.”

On May 9, meanwhile, the USS Lake Champlain collided with a South Korean fishing boat off the Korean peninsula. And on August 19 last year, the USS Louisiana collided with the USNS Eagleview, a Navy support vessel, off the coast of Washington State. No one was injured in either incident.

Harris said the safety review would allow “commanding officers to take a pause, to take a look at his or her procedures, and look at the readiness of their crews to do the difficult job of sailing at sea.”

He also added that it would be sequenced in such a way that the U.S. Navy “will maintain its primary responsibility of defending our homeland and the homelands of our allies.”

CORRECTION (7:45 a.m., Aug. 22): An earlier version of this article misstated the registry of the tanker that collided with the USS John McCain. It flies under the flag of Liberia, not Libya.

Search underway for 10 sailors after USS John S. McCain collision near Singapore; ship has significant damage


Search underway for 10 sailors after USS John S. McCain collision near Singapore; ship has significant damage

American, Singaporean and Malaysian armed forces on Monday are searching for 10 U.S. sailors missing after an early-morning collision between a Navy destroyer and a tanker near Singapore–the second collision involving a Navy ship in the Asia-Pacific region in two months.

The Navy says five sailors were hurt in Monday’s collision between the USS John S. McCain and the 600-foot Alnic MC, an oil and chemical tanker. The four who required additional treatment were taken by helicopter to Singapore, where the McCain had been headed.

One of the injured, Operations Specialist 2nd Class Navin Ramdhun, posted a Facebook message saying he was OK and awaiting surgery for an arm injury. He told The Associated Press that he was sleeping at the time of the collision and is not sure what happened.

The collision occurred at 6:24 a.m. Japan Standard Time. Significant damage to the hull resulted in flooding to nearby compartments, including crew berthing, machinery, and communications rooms a Navy statement said. Damage control efforts by the crew prevented further flooding, the statement said.

The ship has arrived at Changi Naval Base in Singapore. It sailed under its own power, Reuters reported.

The warship is named after John S. McCain, Sr., and John S. McCain, Jr., both Admirals in the U.S. Navy, and the grandfather and father, respectively, of the Arizona senator.

Cindy & I are keeping America’s sailors aboard the USS John S McCain in our prayers tonight – appreciate the work of search & rescue crews.

President Trump, returning to the White House from his “working vacation,” responded to word of the collision by saying, “that’s too bad.”

Sen. McCain tweeted Sunday night he and his wife, Cindy, were keeping the sailors in their prayers. He’d recently visited the warship in Vietnam.

This marked the fourth mishap for U.S. Navy ships in the Pacific since February.

Aside from the USS McCain and USS Fitgerald incidents, the Navy crusier USS Antietam ran aground dumping more than 1,000 gallons of oil in Tokyo Bay in February. In May, another cruiser, USS Lake Champlain, hit a South Korean fishing vessel.

An active-duty Navy officer expressed concern to Fox News over the training of young Navy officers aboard ships.

“It’s not the same level of training you used to get,” the officer said.

Fox News’ Kristin Brown, Lucas Tomlinson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.