Sabtu, 16 April 2011

The Malaysian Insider :: World

The Malaysian Insider :: World

Tornadoes, storms kill at least 17 in South

Posted: 16 Apr 2011 06:01 PM PDT

An over turned police car sits in a field after tornadoes hit in Lafayette, Tennessee on February 6, 2008. — Reuters pic

BIRMINGHAM (Alabama), April 17 — At least 17 people were killed by a string of violent storms and tornadoes that swept the southern United States over two days, including seven in Alabama, officials said yesterday.

All the Alabama deaths were in the southern part of the state on Friday and were caused when mobile homes were blown off their foundations, according to Alabama Emergency Management spokeswoman Yasamie Richardson August.

They included an elderly man in Marengo County, a mother and two children in Washington County, and a father and his two adult children who lived near each other in Autauga County.

A tornado-related death also was reported in Greene County, Mississippi, according to the county emergency management.

The storm system headed yesterday into the Carolinas and southeast Virginia, according to Greg Carbin, meteorologist with the National Storm Prediction Center.

"The east is under the gun for tornadoes and high winds," Carbin said. He predicted yesterday (Saturday) would be the third and final day for the deadly system, which began in Oklahoma late Thursday.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley declared a state of emergency on Friday and surveyed the state with emergency management officials.

Two elderly sisters were killed in Oklahoma late Thursday and seven people, including three children, were killed in Arkansas Friday, authorities said.

Six of the seven fatalities in Arkansas were caused when uprooted trees smashed into houses, National Weather Service meteorologist John Robinson said.

Carbin said this type of storm system in the South was not unusual for April, as moist spring air meets the remnants of cold winter air.

"You have just the right combination of ingredients for severe weather," Carbin said. "This is a dangerous time in the southern United States."

Tennessee was hit by heavy rains and damaging winds Friday, and many homes remain without power. Rainfall totals of about three inches were not unusual across the state.

Storms, some severe, also were expected yesterday from the Florida Panhandle through eastern and southern Georgia, according to — Reuters

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France says it does not aim to topple Arab leaders

Posted: 16 Apr 2011 05:41 PM PDT

PARIS, April 17 — France is not trying to overthrow leaders in the Arab world, despite being at the forefront of the air campaign against Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said yesterday.

Speaking at a conference in Paris, Juppe said France was concerned by violence in Yemen and Syria, and warned that the situation in Syria could escalate if President Bashar al-Assad does not enact urgent reforms.

"(In) Yemen and Syria the situation is extremely worrying," Juppe said at the conference, entitled "The Arab Spring" and bringing together French ambassadors to the Arab world, Arab ambassadors in France and academics.

"These countries must realise that there is no path other than dialogue that brings a clear answer to the aspirations of their people that need to express themselves with complete freedom," Juppe said.

Many of the Middle Eastern and North African countries that have seen a wave of unrest since December are former French colonies, and Paris has played a prominent role in international diplomacy as change sweeps through the Arab world.

France has spearheaded the West's air campaign in Libya. Outside the Middle East, it also intervened militarily in Ivory Coast this month at the United Nations' request, helping to oust former President Laurent Gbagbo.

France, Britain and the United States said this week that the Libya air war ' authorised by the United Nations to protect civilians ' would not end until Gaddafi leaves power.

Juppe said Libyan civilians could not be protected as long as Gaddafi remains, but this did not mean that toppling leaders had become an aim of French foreign policy.

"Our policy is not to lead to changes in regime," he said.

Syria risk

Protests in Syria reached the capital Damascus on Friday for the first time. Asked if the situation could escalate in Syria, Juppe told reporters: "There is a risk. The only way to prevent it is to reform. There is a need to go further in Syria."

He spoke before Assad announced plans to lift the country's emergency law, in place for 48 years.

Earlier yesterday, Juppe also endorsed reforms announced by Algeria as a step in the right direction.

"President (Abdelaziz) Bouteflika announced a number of reforms ...all of this is going in the right direction," Juppe told reporters. Bouteflika promised on Friday to ensure free elections, amend the constitution and end the jailing of journalists ' moves aimed at preventing local unrest turning into a national uprising.

Algeria, one of the biggest suppliers of natural gas to the European Union, has seen a wave of strikes and protests over the past few months, though they have yet to coalesce into the kind of uprising that toppled leaders in Egypt and Tunisia.

France is home to Western Europe's largest Muslim minority, numbering about five million. Many come from its former colony Algeria and still have close ties to the country which fought a bitter war for independence from 1954-62. — Reuters

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