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Hurricane Laura strengthens as it approaches Texas, Louisiana | News

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Hurricane Laura is likely to cause catastrophic damage and “unsurvivable storm surge” to the Gulf Coast near the Texas-Louisiana border after strengthening on Wednesday to a Category 4 storm, the National Hurricane Center said.

The storm, ranked on the Saffir-Simpson scale for measuring hurricane intensity, was about 320km (200 miles) south-southeast of Port Arthur, Texas, with maximum sustained winds of 220km/h (140m/h) and was expected to pack winds of up to 233km/h (145m/h). 

The catastrophic storm surge as high as 20 feet (6 metres) from Sea Rim State Park, Texas, to Intracoastal City, Louisiana could penetrate up to 48km (30 miles) inland from the immediate coastline, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in a Wednesday morning advisory.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott urged Texans living in the path of the deadly storm to get out of the storm’s path immediately.

“All the people who could potentially lose their life, if they know – number one in a hurricane – that’s to make sure that you save your own life. It doesn’t do you any good to save your property if you’re going to you lose your life. Property can be replaced. Your life cannot,” Abbott said in an appearance on Fox News television on Wednesday.

More than 420,000 Texas residents and another 200,000 people in neighbouring Louisiana were under mandatory evacuation orders on Wednesday. Buses were being sent to evacuate people who are also being asked to wear masks and maintain a physical distance because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“You only have a few hours to prepare and evacuate for #HurricaneLaura. Wherever you are by noon is where you’ll have to ride out the storm,” Louisiana Governor John Edwards tweeted on Wednesday morning.

People line up to board buses to evacuate Lake Charles, Louisiana, on Wednesday in the face of Hurricane Laura [Gerald Herbert/AP Photo]

Skies were dark and a light rain was falling on Wednesday morning in the island city of Galveston, which was mostly boarded up.

Randall Gilmore, a 48-year-old maintenance worker, was riding his bike along the city’s sea wall, watching the clouds roll in. Work had prevented him from evacuating yet, but he planned to move to nearby Texas City in the afternoon.

“This storm doesn’t look like it’ll be bad so far, but I feel it’s better to leave. You never know what to expect with these storms. Sometimes hurricanes can fuel tornadoes, and I don’t want to be here in Galveston if that happens,” Gilmore said.

Laura battered the Caribbean over the weekend as a tropical storm, killing 24 people between the Dominican Republic and Haiti and damaging thousands of houses and electricity infrastructure.

State and federal emergency management agencies were rushing to provide sheltered accommodations and get first responders in place.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Pete Gaynor posted pictures of teams bringing portable shelters to Camp Beauregard, Louisiana on Tuesday, and Texas Governor Abbott said his state’s National Guard was in place with high-water vehicles and rescue helicopters.

The storm was moving at about 26km/h (16m/h) on Wednesday morning.

Workers board up windows ahead of Hurricane Laura

Workers board up windows at the Galvez Hotel and Spa on Tuesday in Galveston, Texas, as Hurricane Laura headed towards the US Gulf Coast [David J Phillip/AP Photo]

“I’m a little excited and nervous, but not scared,” said Carlos Morales, 21, who works for a fencing company in Galveston. He said he planned to ride out the hurricane in his five-foot elevated house about 10 blocks from the beach.

The storm is expected to spawn tornadoes on Wednesday night over Louisiana, far southeastern Texas, and southwestern Mississippi, the NHC said. It added there would likely be widespread flooding from far eastern Texas across Louisiana and Arkansas from Wednesday to Thursday.

Laura will likely drop 13-25cm (5-10 inches) of rain over the region, the NHC said.

Crude oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has been paralysed as companies batten down operations. Output cuts are nearing 90 percent – a level not seen since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Landfall during pandemic

Texas is coming down from a period of peak COVID-19 cases and deaths, and there are currently some 108,000 active cases of the virus, according to the state health department. More than 41,000 hospital beds were occupied as of Tuesday, including more than 12,000 in Houston and Galveston, state data showed.

Texas hands out masks to Hurricane Laura evacuees

Mary Lyon, centre left, hands out masks to evacuees as they wait in line to register before boarding a bus on Tuesday in Galveston, Texas; the evacuees were being taken to Austin, Texas, as Hurricane Laura headed towards the Gulf Coast [David J Phillip/AP Photo]

Hidalgo County, Texas, urged voluntary evacuation in the coastal region surrounding Houston, and shelters were set up in San Antonio, Dallas and Austin. Thousands of evacuees would be sheltered at hotels in Austin to encourage physical distancing, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

Houston, which lies in Laura’s path and has closed public COVID-19 testing sites in advance of the storm, was pummeled in 2017 by Hurricane Harvey, which killed at least 68 people and caused $125bn in property damage. The fourth-largest US city, with 2.3 million residents, Houston is about 70km (45 miles) north of the open water of the Gulf of Mexico.

Lina Hidalgo, the top executive for Harris County, which encompasses Houston, warned of deadly winds and a destructive storm surge after Laura makes landfall.

“This storm certainly can cause unprecedented devastation,” Hidalgo said at a news conference on Tuesday. “We truly have to say: prepare for the worst.”



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million

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Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe

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A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.



Source – observer.ug

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News

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Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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