Sunday, September 22, 2013

STORM ALERT: Typhoon Usagi Makes Landfall In China As Gusty Winds Buffet Hong Kong - Powerful Storm Kills Two In The Philippines; Injures Others In Taiwan And Delays Flights In Hong Kong!

September 22, 2013 - PACIFIC OCEAN - Typhoon Usagi, a strong tropical cyclone in the western Pacific Ocean, has made landfall in China's Guangdong Province in the city of Shanwei, about 90 miles east-northeast of Kowloon, Hong Kong. The typhoon is weakening over land, with winds now equivalent to a Category 1 hurricane. Based on Chinese radar imagery, landfall appeared to occur Sunday evening between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. Hong Kong time (7 a.m. and 8 a.m. EDT U.S. time).


Satellite image of Usagi. Source: NOAA via Getty Images

In this satellite image taken by the Japan Meteorological Agency's MTSAT-2 satellite and provided by the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Super Typhoon Usagi heads northwest on
September 20, 2013 between the Philippines and Taiwan through the Luzon Strait.
Source: NOAA via Getty Images

According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, as of 11 p.m. Hong Kong time Sunday (11 a.m. EDT Sunday U.S. time), Usagi was centered near Huizhou City, Guangdong, or 60 miles northeast of Kowloon, Hong Kong. It is moving toward the west-northwest at 18 miles per hour. Maximum sustained winds are estimated at 90 mph.

Usagi will continue to track toward the west to west-northwest. This track is taking the center of Usagi just north of Hong Kong overnight Sunday into Monday local time; that is when the center will make its closest approach to Hong Kong.


Children swim in a flooded walkway as rough waves crash on concrete banks along the coast of Manila Bay
brought by Super Typhoon Usagi in Navotas City, metro Manila September 21, 2013.
Romeo Ranoco/Reuters

(WUNDERMAP: Tracking Usagi)

The storm has already dumped more than a foot of rain in parts of Taiwan and is blamed for the deaths of two people in The Philippines. Usagi will pack very strong winds and heavy rain, both of which present significant danger to those in the storm's path.

A tropical cyclone is dubbed a "super typhoon" when maximum sustained winds reach at least 150 mph. Usagi underwent a period of rapid intensification from early Wednesday through midday Thursday (U.S. Eastern time), going from a 55-knot (65-mph) tropical storm to a 140-knot (160-mph) super typhoon in just 33 hours, or just under a 100 mph intensification, based on satellite estimates of intensity.


Usagi Forecast Path. Image: The Weather Channel.

Latest IR Satellite Image. Image: The Weather Channel.


By Friday night, though, Usagi underwent an eyewall replacement cycle, causing the storm to weaken slightly. In addition, the outer rain bands began to interact with Taiwan and Luzon, disrupting the storm's low-level inflow, further weakening the storm.

On Saturday, animated multi-spectral satellite imagery indicated a resurgence in the storm's eyewall development, but the typhoon was never able to regain its former power before making landfall.
Here are the impacts by location for Usagi:


Hong Kong

  • Airlines Cathay Pacific and Dragonair announced Saturday they would halt all flights in and out of Hong Kong from 6 p.m. Sunday.
  • Closest approach of center of Usagi: Now through Monday morning around 1 a.m. Hong Kong time (Sunday at 1 p.m. EDT in the U.S.)
  • A sustained wind of 56 mph (90 km/h) and a wind gust of 76 mph (123 km/h) was reported at Cheung Chau, Hong Kong, at 9 p.m. Sunday local time.
  • Winds are starting to subside in parts of Hong Kong and the barometric pressure is beginning to increase as the typhoon weakens and makes its closest geographic approach to Hong Kong.
  • Impacts: Tropical storm force winds of 40 to 70 mph are occurring in some areas, along with hurricane-force gusts. Hong Kong's complex terrain and numerous skyscrapers are causing winds to be higher in some places and lower in others. Periods of heavy rain will occur as well.
  • Northwesterly winds will become southwesterly Monday morning (local time) as the center of Usagi passes north and then northwest of Hong Kong.
  • Tides are running 1 to 2 feet above normal levels.
  • Local forecast: Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated places in the world, with over 7.1 million residents, as of a 2012 estimate.


China

  • Guangdong Province, where landfall occurred, is taking the brunt of Usagi's impact. The population of Guangdong is about 105 million, making it the third most populous province or state in the world (the top two are in India).
  • A station pressure of 938.9 millibars, or about 940 millibars at sea level, was measured near the point of landfall in the city of Shanwei at 8 p.m. Hong Kong time Sunday. Shanwei is a coastal city of over 2 million people.
  • The center of Usagi will move west or west-northwest through the major cities of the Pearl River Delta, such as Shenzhen and Guangzhou, with winds possibly gusting to hurricane force along with heavy rainfall.
  • China's government weather agency is forecasting 4 to 10 inches of rainfall across much of Guangdong Province along the path of Usagi.
  • Significant storm surge has been reported around the city of Shantou, east of where Usagi made landfall, due to the large area of onshore winds on the right side of Usagi's circulation.
  • Local forecast: Guangzhou
Earlier in Usagi's path:

Taiwan

  • The center of Usagi passed south of the southern tip of Taiwan. 
  • Impacts: Surge flooding/battering waves (eastern coast especially) and flooding rain/mudslides (central, eastern Taiwan).
  • More than a foot of rain fell in some locations as Usagi passed by.
  • Local forecast: Taipei


Northern Philippines

  • The center of Usagi passed north of the north coast of Luzon on Saturday, local time.
  • The Batanes Islands, in the extreme northern Philippines north of Luzon, took a direct hit. Basco Airport reported a sustained wind of 112 mph, then went nearly calm as the eye passed overhead and the pressure dropped to 930 millibars.
  • Local forecast: Manila
- TWC.


WATCH: Updates on Typhoon Usagi - Western Pacific Weather.











INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Precursors To The End Of European Vampirism And Christian Dominionism - Double Suicide Bomb On A Christian Church In Peshawar Kills 78 People And Wounds 120 Others In The Deadliest Attack On Christians In Pakistan!

September 22, 2013 - PAKISTAN - Another 120 people were wounded when the two bombers blew themselves up as worshippers left the church in Peshawar city, which had been offering a free meal of rice.


A man cries over the death of his brother in the blast. Around 400 people were at the service.

At least 34 women and seven children were among the dead, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said.

Nazir John, one of those at the church, said: "There were blasts and there was hell for all of us.

"When I got my senses back, I found nothing but smoke, dust, blood and screaming people.

"I saw severed body parts and blood all around."


Islamic militants are thought to be behind the attack.

Peshawar's commissioner Sahibzada Anees told reporters the bombers struck when the service had just ended.

"Most of the wounded are in critical condition," he said, adding that special security had been in force to protect the church.


WATCH: Suicide blasts hit Pakistan church.





"We are in an area which is a target of terrorism and within that area there was a special security arrangement for the church.

"We are in a rescue phase and once it is over we will investigate what went wrong," Witnesses said they heard two blasts, the second more powerful than the first.


An injured person is taken away from the scene of destruction.

Najeeb Bogvi, a senior police officer, said: "After the service ended, people started to come out and the suicide bomber rushed towards them."

Schoolteacher Nazir Khan, 50, said: "A huge blast threw me on the floor and as soon as I regained my senses, a second blast took place and I saw wounded people everywhere."

It is the country's deadliest ever assault on Christians.


A woman mourns a victim of the attack.


Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's office said in a statement: "The Prime Minister said that terrorists have no religion and targeting innocent people is against the teachings of Islam and all religions.

"He added that such cruel acts of terrorism reflect the brutality and inhumane mind set of the terrorists."

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but suspicion will likely fall on one of the country's many Islamic militant groups.


WATCH: More than fifty Christians killed in Pakistan suicide attack.





Islamic militants have been blamed for previous attacks on the Muslim country's Christian minority, and other Muslim groups they consider heretics.

Christians make up about 4% of Pakistan's population of 180 million. - SKY News.





DISASTER IMPACT: Monster Floods & Landslides In Colorado - 1,900 Homes Destroyed; Death Toll Stands At 7; 3 Missing And Presumed Dead; At Least 22,000 Gallons Of Oil Spilled From Tanks; 15 Highways Remain Closed; City Of Lyons Could Be UNLIVABLE FOR SIX MONTHS; Estimated $135 MILLION In Damages To Roads And Bridges!

September 22, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The number of people unaccounted for in Colorado continues to plummet after a week of torrential rain that claimed the lives of at least seven people statewide.


Days of heavy rainfall flooded Colorado mountain towns, obliterating roads and leaving
many people stranded.  John Wark / AP


On Saturday, the official number of people unaccounted for dropped from 82 to 60, officials confirmed.

Six state highways also reopened a week after record rainfall prompted nearly 6,000 families to flee for safety from flooding and landslides and destroyed an estimated 1,900 homes, according to The Denver Post. Fifteen highways remain closed.

The list of people who are unaccounted for statewide has been steadily falling from 1,200 a few days ago, Reuters reported, as families reunite, evacuees register and rescue teams reach areas cut off by the floods.

The official death toll stands at seven: four in Boulder County, two in El Paso and one in Clear Creek County. But at least three others are presumed dead, and Reuters said search dogs were combing a large debris field near Loveland in the Big Thompson River canyon, where a 1976 flood killed more than 140.

The flooding also hit oil fields on the state’s Front Range, and authorities said Friday that at least 22,000 gallons of oil had spilled from tanks, complicating the cleanup effort.

Most of the oil releases reported came from storage tanks or tank farms operated by Texas-based Anadarko Petroleum Co., according to the AP. At least four of the releases reported by the company were in Weld County and spilled oil into the South Platte River or a tributary, according to information submitted to regulators.

Officials from the city of Lyons, Colo., said Friday that their town could be unlivable for upward of six months.


Casey Roy, 9, looks through an outside window at the damage in her family's basement in north Boulder
from three feet of flood water on Sept. 12. Rj Sangosti / Denver Post


E. coli bacteria contaminated the drinking water system for Lyons, and the wastewater system suffered at least $1 million in damage, town administrator Victoria Simonsen told the crowd at a meeting Thursday, the Longmont Times Call reported.

Seventeen counties throughout the state were affected by the floods, which destroyed more than 200 commercial properties and damaged 765 more.

The state will spend an estimated $135 million to begin repairs on roads and bridges, according to the Colorado Office of Emergency Management website.

The only remaining flood warning Saturday afternoon extends from Sterling to the Nebraska state line, reports the Post.

"Right now it's at 10.2 feet in Julesburg. It is slowly decreasing," Jim Kalina, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Boulder, told the Post. - NBC News.



INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Kenya Mall Massacre - Death Toll Rises To 68; At Least 175 Injured; And At Least 30 Hostages After Islamist Attackers Storm Nairobi Mall!

September 22, 2013 - KENYA - Sixty-eight dead. At least 175 injured. About 30 hostages still inside, as well as perhaps a dozen gunmen.

Those are the grim numbers, more than a day after Islamist attackers stormed an upscale Nairobi mall on Saturday, spraying bullets and holding shoppers captive.


Elaine Dang of San Diego is helped to safety after the attack. The military asked local media not to televise
anything live because the gunmen are watching the screens in the mall.

Kenyan paramilitary police officers patrol the area near the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, where hostages are
being held for the second day on Sunday, September 22. Gunmen burst into the mall and opened fire in a deadly
attack on September 21. Kenyan government and Western diplomatic sources said Al-Shabaab militants were
holding about 30 hostages inside the shopping center on Sunday. As grim-faced Kenyan soldiers warily
searched the five-story building -- and as Al-Shabaab maintained its defiant stance --
the siege was no closer to a resolution.

The tense standoff continued into Sunday night, with sporadic gunfire heard through the day and at least one explosion.

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta told reporters Sunday afternoon the Kenyan people had showed resiliency as a nation and would triumph against the attackers.

The tragedy was also personal for Kenyatta; one of his nephews and his fiancee were among the dead.

"They shall not get away with their despicable, beastly acts. Like the cowardly perpetrators now cornered in the building, we will punish the masterminds swiftly and indeed very painfully," Kenyatta said.

Kenyan government and Western diplomatic sources said Al-Shabaab militants were holding about 30 hostages inside the shopping center.


WATCH:  Dozens captive inside Kenya mall.





As grim-faced Kenyan soldiers warily searched the five-story building Sunday -- and as Al-Shabaab maintained its defiant stance -- the siege was no closer to a resolution.

There are 10 to 15 gunmen involved, Kenyatta said.

"We know that they were across the building," State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu told CNN's Zain Verjee. "We know that they are now isolated somewhere within the building."

Soldiers kept vigil outside the mall, guns dangling from their shoulders.

"We want to do everything possible, and the security people are doing everything possible to make sure we lose no more lives," Esipisu said.


A woman shields a baby as a soldier stands guard inside the Westgate Mall on Saturday, September 21.

A rescue worker helps a child outside the mall on September 21.

The Kenyan Red Cross tweeted that nine bodies were recovered Sunday night, bringing the death toll to 68.

More than 175 were injured in the attack, Kenyatta said, offering his support to the wounded and relatives of the dead. He said that he and other Kenyan officials visited hospitals Sunday morning.

"No one should lose their life so needlessly, so senselessly and no family should have to receive news that their loved ones have been killed by a criminal bunch of cowards," he said.

It was the deadliest terror attack in Kenya since al Qaeda blew up the U.S. Embassy there in 1998, killing 213 people.

The attack Saturday targeted a popular weekend meeting spot. Kenyans and expatriates gather at the luxurious Westgate Shopping Mall on weekends to drink lattes, catch a movie or browse through the more than 80 stores.


WATCH:  What led to al-Shabab attack on Kenya mall?





Al-Shabaab, al Qaeda's proxy in Somalia, claimed responsibility, and said it was not backing down. In a message on its Twitter feed, the group said "all Muslims" were escorted from the mall before the attack.

"When justice is denied, it must be enforced," it said in a tweet Sunday. "Kenyans were relatively safe in their cities before they invaded us & killed Muslims #Westgate"

Since Kenya launched attacks against Al-Shabaab in Somalia in 2011, the group has hurled grenades at Kenyan churches, bus stops and other public places.

Last year, the Kenyan military played a major role in handing Al-Shabaab forces a defeat when as part of a peacekeeping mission, they liberated the key Somali port of Kismayo.

Many questions


Late in the day, helicopters approached the mall. Activity around the center picked up briefly but then it was quiet again.

Police in Kenya grew irritated as people took to social media to describe what they were seeing and hearing.

"If you must Facebook or tweet, then talk about football or your favourite music but NOT MISINFORM the public on security operations!" authorities said on Twitter.

Earlier in the day, three injured security forces were taken out of the besieged mall, but the severity of their injuries was unclear.


Men help a wounded woman outside the mall on September 21.

People who had been hiding inside the mall during the gunfire flee the scene.

By Sunday afternoon, at least 1,000 people had been freed from the mall, Kenyatta said.

One apparent hostage left the building Sunday, and said she had been hiding in the basement of the mall, CNN affiliate KTN reported.

Al-Shabaab vowed not to negotiate with Kenyan authorities.

"The Mujahideen are still strong inside #Westgate Mall and still holding their ground," the group tweeted late Saturday.

Israeli special forces are at the scene and are working with their Kenyan counterparts in the hostage crisis, Kenyan government sources told CNN.

Kenyatta said several nations had offered help but "this remains an operation of the Kenya security agencies."


WATCH:  Gunfire as standoff continues in Kenya mall.





Esipisu said there were reports of a white woman among the hostage takers. Kenyan intelligence officials were investigating the claims, he said.

Esipisu was asked if the reported woman was thought to be the infamous Al-Shabaab-affiliated "White Widow," Samantha Lewthwaite. "Nothing is being ruled out," he said.

But CNN terrrorism analyst Peter Bergen said it was unlikely.

"It would be very unusual for a woman to be involved in one of these operations," he said. "Typically these groups are misogynist. Their view is the woman should be in a home and shrouded in a body veil."

Lewthwaite's husband, Germaine Lindsey, was one of the suicide bombers killed in the 2005 attack on London's transportation system. His Buckinghamshire-born widow is wanted by Kenyan authorities for her alleged role as an Al-Shabaab and al Qaeda-linked financier.

A day of horror


The calm was shattered around noon local time Saturday. Gunshots erupted as shoppers picked up groceries, savored lunch and browsed through the racks at stores.

Before long, pools of blood smeared pristine hallways. Bodies lay strewn across the floor.

Uche Kaigwa-Okoye was sipping coffee when he heard what first sounded like a fallen table, then the continuing rat-a-tat of gunfire. As the gunshots became louder, screaming crowds headed for the exits.

He joined 20 people who took shelter for about five hours in a women's bathroom cubicle.


An injured man is wheeled into the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi.

People run from the Westgate Mall.

"They had grenades, and it was really, really loud," he said of the attackers. He noticed tear gas in the hallways as well.

"All of us felt like they were close," he said.

As people texted family and friends outside the mall, word spread that nobody could be trusted. And even if the good guys could be sorted from the bad guys, the intermittent barrages of gunfire made any escape attempt seem futile.

Sara Head, a Washington resident, experienced similar horror in the mall's parking garage. As her car pulled up, she heard gunfire. She crawled underneath and hid behind cars before getting into a stairwell.

Eventually, the stairwell lights came back on and the door to a nearby supermarket opened. She dashed through, passed a nearby loading dock and fled to safety.


WATCH: Kenya forces move to end mall siege.





"There was blood throughout the supermarket," Head said. "It wasn't clear if it was OK to exit."

Several Kenyan agencies made a plea for blood donations.

"Hospitals are appealing for more blood, the response is incredible but more is needed," tweeted Francis Kimemia, secretary to the Cabinet.

Foreigners among casualties


Most of the casualties are Kenyan, authorities said. But the mall is popular with expatriates and foreign nationals, who were among those killed and injured.

Those killed include three British citizens, two French nationals and two Canadians, including a diplomat, their governments said.

Several American citizens were among the wounded, including Elaine Dang, a University of California, Berkeley, graduate.


A Kenyan woman is helped to safety after the masked gunmen stormed the upscale mall
and sprayed gunfire on shoppers and staff.

Bodies lie outside the shopping mall.


Dang worked as the general manager for Eat Out Kenya, which confirmed her injuries on its Twitter and Facebook pages.

The State Department said Saturday there were several Americans among the injured, but none among the dead. Secretary of State John Kerry didn't offer details.

The U.S. Embassy is asking personnel to stay in place Sunday and avoid the Westgate Mall area and any large gatherings. All U.S. citizens in Kenya are urged to register online so the embassy can provide them with updated information on travel and security -- and can contact them in case of emergency.


WATCH: Kenyan forces push to end mall standoff.





Israel's Foreign Ministry said one national was slightly wounded and three escaped. A cafe at the mall is owned by an Israeli, but the ministry does not believe the mall was targeted because of that.

The Ghana president's office said literary figure Kofi Awoonor was among those killed in the attack.

"Such a sad twist of fate to place Prof at the wrong place at the wrong time," President John Mahama said in a statement. - CNN.