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Louisiana in ruins, 6 dead in wake of Laura as storm moves east | News

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The remnants of Hurricane Laura unleashed heavy rain and twisters hundreds of miles inland from a path of death and mangled buildings along the US Gulf Coast, and forecasters warn of new dangers as the tropical weather blows towards the Eastern Seaboard and the open water of the Atlantic Ocean.

Flooding and more tornadoes were possible as the leftovers of the once fearsome Category 4 hurricane move eastwards through Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama on Friday after an apparent tornado tore through a church and homes in Arkansas on Thursday night. Laura weakened to a tropical depression late on Thursday, but could become a tropical storm again when it moves off the mid-Atlantic coast on Saturday.

More than 750,000 homes and businesses were without power in Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas in the storm’s wake, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks utility reports.

One of the strongest hurricanes ever to strike the United States, Laura was blamed for six deaths as it barreled across Louisiana and parts of Texas.

A sense of relief prevailed that Laura was not the annihilating menace forecasters had feared, but a full assessment of the damage could take days. Buildings were demolished and entire neighbourhoods left in ruins along the coast. Thunderstorms and sizzling heat were expected in the disaster area on Friday, complicating recovery efforts.

 Debris and downed power lines in Lake Charles, Louisiana, after Hurricane Laura passed through the area with strong winds causing extensive damage to the city [Joe Raedle/Getty Images via AFP]

“It is clear that we did not sustain and suffer the absolute, catastrophic damage that we thought was likely,” Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said. “But we have sustained a tremendous amount of damage.”

Finishing search and rescue efforts was a top priority, Edwards said, followed by efforts to find hotel or motel rooms for those unable to stay in their homes. Officials in Texas and Louisiana both sought to avoid traditional mass shelters for evacuees over fears of spreading COVID-19.

He called Laura the most powerful hurricane to strike Louisiana, meaning it surpassed even Katrina, which was a Category 3 storm that hit the US in 2005.

The hurricane’s top wind speed of 241km per hour (150 miles per hour) put it among the strongest systems on record in the US.

Not until 11 hours after landfall did Laura finally lose hurricane status as it ploughed north and thrashed Arkansas, and up until Thursday evening, it remained a tropical storm with winds of 65km/h (40mph).

Rampant destruction

The storm crashed ashore in low-lying Louisiana and clobbered Lake Charles, an industrial and casino city of 80,000 people.

On Broad Street, many buildings had partially collapsed. Windows were blown out, awnings ripped away and trees split in eerily misshapen ways.

A floating casino came unmoored and hit a bridge, and small planes were thrown atop each other at the airport. A television station’s tower toppled.

Hurricane Laura

A couple, Lonnie Gatte and Teri Goleman, kiss after returning to their residence, a 40-foot camping trailer, to find it completely destroyed in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura in Louisiana [Adrees Latif/Reuters]

A Confederate statue in front of a court that local officials had voted to keep in place just days earlier was knocked down by Laura.

“It looks like 1,000 tornadoes went through here. It’s just destruction everywhere,” said Brett Geymann, who rode out the storm with three relatives in Moss Bluff, near Lake Charles. He described a roar like a jet engine as Laura passed over his house about 2am (06:00 GMT)

“There are houses that are totally gone,” he said.

As the extent of the damage came into focus, a massive plume of smoke visible for miles began rising from a chemical plant.

Police said the leak was at a facility run by Biolab, which manufactures chemicals used in household cleaners and chlorine powder for pools. Nearby residents were told to close their doors and windows, and the fire smouldered into the night.

Four people were killed by falling trees in Louisiana, including a 14-year-old girl and a 68-year-old man. A 24-year-old man died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator inside his residence. Another man drowned in a boat that sank during the storm, authorities said.

Returning home 

No deaths had been confirmed in Texas, which Republican Governor Greg Abbott called “a miracle”. Chevellce Dunn considered herself among the fortunate after a night spent huddling on a sofa with her son, daughter and four nieces and nephews as winds rocked their home in Orange, Texas. Left without power in the sweltering heat, she wondered when the electricity might come back.

“It ain’t going to be easy. As long as my kids are fine, I’m fine,” Dunn said.

More than 580,000 coastal residents evacuated despite fears of infection from the coronavirus pandemic, saving many lives, but it was unclear when their journeys might end.

Thousands to evacuate Texas and Louisiana coasts ahead of storm

There is no electricity or running water in Lake Charles, a city of 80,000, and the coastal towns of Cameron and Holly Beach were swamped by the storm surge. Restoring these services could take weeks.

“People who are outside of Lake Charles, thinking about coming back, they need to be really blunt with themselves about the harsh reality of what they’re coming back to,” Mayor Nic Hunter told NBC’s Today show on Friday. “I’m sorry about that, but we just got hit with the largest hurricane to hit Louisiana in the last 150 years.”

A lower-than-expected storm surge also helped save lives. Edwards said ocean water rose as much as four metres (13 feet) rather than six metres (20 feet) that was predicted.

Laura was the seventh named storm to strike the US this year, setting a new record for US landfalls by the end of August. Laura hit the US after killing nearly two dozen people on the island of Hispaniola, including 20 in Haiti and three in the Dominican Republic.

President Donald Trump planned to visit the Gulf Coast this weekend to assess the damage.



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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