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Several killed as Hurricane Laura slams southwestern Louisiana | USA News

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Hurricane Laura ripped through southwestern Louisiana on Thursday, destroying buildings in the city of Lake Charles and killing at least four people after making landfall in the early morning as one of the most powerful storms to hit the state.

The hurricane’s first reported US fatality was a 14-year-old girl in Leesville, Louisiana, who died when a tree fell on her house, a spokeswoman for Governor John Bel Edwards said.

“We do expect that there could be more fatalities,” the spokeswoman, Christina Stephens, said on Twitter.

A chemical plant caught fire in Laura’s wake on Thursday morning in Westlake, Louisiana, 4 miles (6.4 km) west of Lake Charles, sending thick black smoke billowing into the sky.

Governor Edwards warned residents in the area to shelter in place, close doors and windows and turn off air conditioners as authorities investigated.

“Stay inside and wait for additional direction from local officials,” Edwards wrote on Twitter.

Residents of Lake Charles heard Laura’s winds howling and the sound of breaking glass as the storm passed through the industrial city of 78,000 with winds of 85 miles per hour (137 km per hour) and gusts up to 128 mph (206 kph) in the hour after landfall.

Residents near Lake Charles reported ‘destruction everywhere’ [David J. Phillip/AP Photo]

The windows of the city’s 22-floor Capital One Tower were blown out, street signs were toppled and pieces of wooden fence and debris from collapsed buildings lay scattered in the flooded streets, video footage shared on social media showed.

“It looks like 1,000 tornadoes went through here. It’s just destruction everywhere,” said Brett Geymann, who rode out the storm with three family members in Moss Bluff, near Lake Charles. He described Laura passing over his house with the roar of a jet engine around 2am.

“There are houses that are totally gone. They were there yesterday, but now gone,” he told the Associated Press news agency.

Storm weakens after landfall

Laura made landfall just before 1am as a Category 4 storm packing winds of 150 mph (240 kph) in the small town of Cameron, Louisiana, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

It rapidly weakened to a Category 1 storm on Thursday morning with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph) and was forecast to become a tropical storm later in the day.

The NHC warned that high water levels would persist along the Gulf Coast for several hours as Laura moved north and then northeast.

A man uses a saw to cut a tree limb downed after Hurricane Laura made landfall in Lake Charles, Louisiana, U.S., on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. Hurricane Laura raked across Louisiana early on Thursday, b

Hurricane Laura became one of the most powerful storms ever to hit Louisiana with a “catastrophic storm surge,” flash floods and devastating winds [Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg]

Besides threatening life, the storm slammed the heart of the US oil industry, forcing oil rigs and refineries to shut down production.

The Port of Lake Charles remained closed as workers were unable to enter or exit the facility due to downed power lines and trees.

The port avoided significant flooding but power was out as of Thursday morning, manager of security and safety Ed Manint said, according to Reuters news agency. The harbour police were assessing the damage, he said.

‘Less surge than we thought’

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Pete Gaynor told Fox News that the agency would make storm damage assessments on Thursday and had the resources to respond to the storm now, adding he expected to see significant damage from wind and building damage.

“I think we’re generally fortunate – less surge than we thought,” Gaynor said.

The NHC on Wednesday predicted storm surge would be “unsurvivable” and could penetrate up to 40 miles inland. While the worst projections had not materialised, damaging winds and flooding rainfall would continue spreading inland later on Thursday, the NHC said.

Laura could spawn tornadoes on Thursday over Louisiana, Arkansas and western Mississippi, and was expected to drop 4 to 8 inches of rain (101 to 203 mm) across portions of that region, the NHC said.

US President Donald Trump on Thursday approved an emergency declaration for Arkansas, the White House said, authorising federal officials to coordinate relief efforts and freeing up federal funds. He had approved an emergency declaration for Texas on Monday.

Trump was scheduled to visit FEMA’s headquarters in the early afternoon to receive a briefing on the hurricane.

Emergency personnel arrive to survey the aftermath of Hurricane Laura in Sulphur, Louisiana, U.S., August 27, 2020. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Emergency services began assessing damage on Thursday [Adrees Latif/Reuters]

Texas largely spared

The eastern coastal counties of Texas that had braced for the worst were largely spared Laura’s rage.

Galveston’s acting mayor, Craig Brown, told MSNBC he was cancelling the island city’s evacuation on Thursday after the storm turned more towards Louisiana. The mayor of Beaumont, Texas, Becky Ames, told MSNBC the situation was “manageable”.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott was planning to travel to east Texas to survey the damage on Thursday, his spokesman said.

Around 650,000 homes and businesses in Louisiana and Texas were without power early on Thursday, and local utilities in the storm’s path warned outage numbers would climb as the storm marched inland.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Another blow as Judge throws out Kiggundu’s lawyer Muwema

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When court sat on Friday to hear the Kiggundu’s application to stop independent audit, he did not have a written application, and Justice Henry Adonyo instead ordered the plaintiff’s lawyer Fred Muwema to go make a written application seeking court to dismiss the audit and return to court on September 30 for a hearing of the application. But this adds more pressure on Kiggundu who is choking with the loans.

On 31 August, the judge ordered the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU) to carry out and independent audit into the accounts of the businessman and financial statements exchanged between the two parties, and present a report to court.

When asked by journalists why he has filed for an application seeking dismissal of the audit, Fred Muwema had this to say. “We are saying that let the validity and legality of those credit facilities (loans) be decided first before you can audit” He said.

The ruling on the application of the main suit to determine whether the businessman owes loan arrears to the bank is set for 5th October 2020, after which a date for hearing of the case will be set.

Background

Hamis Kiggundu through his companies Ham enterprises and Kiggs International (U) ltd sued DTB branches in Kenya and Uganda for deducting money from his accounts something which the bank contends and said they only acted as per the loan agreement of deducting 30% from Kiggundu’s accounts to recover the credit facilities rendered to him between February 2011 and September 2016

But Court documents filed by the bank in their defense shows that Kiggundu, between February 2011 and September 2016, was granted various credit facilities by the said DTB Banks.

First, via Ham Enterprises Limited, Kiggundu obtained a loan of $6,663,453 and another Sh2.5bn from the DTB (U) to finance his projects in the real estate business.

Later, according to New Vision, he got a facility worth $4.5m through Kiggs International (U) Limited from DTB (K) and mortgaged his properties, which include Plot 328 located at Kawuku on Block 248 Kyadondo, three plots that include 36, 37 and 38 on Folio 1533 Victoria Crescent II situated in Kyadondo and land on Makerere Hill Road on LRV 3716 Folio 10 Plot 923 Block 9.

Documents show that as of January 21, 2020, Kiggundu was in default on payment obligations of $6.298m on the loan facility of $6.663m, as well as sh2.885b on the demand overdraft facility of sh1.5b and the temporary demand overdraft facility of sh1b.

The banks say that Kiggundu was in default on the payment of another $3.662m out of a total loan facility of $4m and another $458,604 on a loan facility of $500,000, as of January 21, 2020.

The DTB consequently served him with a demand notice to either pay up or lose the assets that he submitted as collateral security. The bank threatened to attach a plot on Makerere Hill Road and other prime commercial properties.

Analysts says that Kiggundu’s lawyer is playing delaying tactics aimed at stopping the independent audit as ordered by the court earlier. Kiggundu had wanted court to believe his own audit of loan transactions, but that would amount to injustice to the banks that gave him money-DTB Uganda and DTB Kenya.

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Minister Rukutana charged with attempted murder, remanded

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The state minister for Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana has been remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district.

Rukutana appeared before Ntungamo Grade One magistrate Nazifah Namayanja this afternoon from where he was charged with seven offences related to attempted murder, assault, malicious damage, and threatening violence.

Rukutana was captured in a video that went viral on social media showing him grabbing a gun from one of his bodyguards and started shooting at a vehicle belonging to supporters of his political rival Naome Kabasharira. At the time of the incident, Rukutana had just lost the Rushenyi country NRM flag to Kabasharira.

The prosecution alleges that on September 5, 2020, at Kagugu village in Ntungamo district, Rukutana and others still at large assaulted Julius Niwamanya and threatened to kill or injure him together with three others. The others are Stuart Kamukama, Dan Rwibirungi, and Moses Kamukama. 

It is also alleged that Rukutana also willfully and unlawfully damaged a motor vehicle registration number UAR 840X Toyota Rav 4 type which belongs to Moses Muhumuza.

According to the Judiciary public relations officer, Jameson Karemani, Rukutana has not taken a plea of these charges against him since they can only be tried by the chief magistrate who was not in court today.

As a result, the magistrate decided to send him to Kyamugorani, awaiting his return to court on Tuesday.      





Source – observer.ug

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Lira district headquarters closed over COVID-19

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Lira district headquarters have been closed after one staff tested positive for COVID-19 last week. 

On Monday morning, district staff were blocked at the gate with only the deputy chief administrative officer, his secretary and the receptionist allowed access to their offices. 

Paul Samuel Mbiiwa, the deputy chief administrative officer says that only heads of department will be allowed at the headquarters while the rest will work from home. He adds that the restriction will help to curb the spread of the virus.

“You see corona is not a joke. We have taken a step at fighting it and that is why you are seeing the staff outside. Even in my office here I do not want people to come if there is anything we can discuss on the phone.”

Francis Okello Olwa, a senior community development officer who doubles as the district spokesperson says that the entire district offices will be fumigated and closed for two days.

Health authorities in the district are planning to take samples from all the staff because they could have interacted with the one who tested positive. Currently, there are 19 COVID-19 patients under treatment at Lira regional referral hospital.     

On Sunday four health workers at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. Dr Patrick Odongo, a senior medical officer at the hospital also succumbed to the virus.  





Source – observer.ug

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