Ian devastates Florida, takes aim at South Carolina, Georgia. Iran strikes in Iraq kill at least 13 over protests. Putin prepares to annex Ukraine lands; at least 200,000 flee draft.
Ian leaves devastation in Florida, takes aim at South Carolina, Georgia
When Hurricane Ian made landfall at 3:05pm local time yesterday, it landed as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of over 150mph. Tampa Bay had been bracing for a direct hit for days. Although the city of Tampa still suffered extensive damage from flooding and wind, the heart of the storm veered southwards. Ft. Myers bore the brunt of the storm’s impact from huge storm surges, 16 ft. in some areas, and punishing winds.
While much of low-lying Ft. Myers had been under evacuation orders, many had stayed put, not expecting a direct hit. Some residents on Sanibel, a nearby barrier island, called for help during the initial surge, saying they were trapped in their attics. But weather was too severe for many hours to event attempt a rescue. As a result, local authorities fear there may be a significant loss of life in the area.
Officials in southwest Florida have confirmed deaths, but there is no official death count as yet. Rescue efforts are still underway. At least 2.7 million in the state were without power at one point. Utility crews, bolstered by volunteers from 27 states, have been hard at work since the worst of the storm passed. So far, they’ve managed to restore power to about 500,000 homes.
Reports have come in of extensive property damage, particularly in Naples and Ft. Myers. The full picture will become clearer in the days to come.
Dangers still ahead
As clean-up and rescue operations have gotten underway on the southwest coast, Ian continued its march across the state. Ian has been downgraded at this point to a Tropical Storm. Its progress has slowed but it continues to dump torrential rain in central Florida, particularly in the area around Orlando. Over the coming hours, Ian is expected to move slowly off the coast. There meteorologists say it is likely to regain strength over warm Atlantic waters. If it regains sufficient power, it could endanger parts of St. John’s county (where Jacksonville is) sending the flood-prone waters of the St. John’s River surging inland.
Forecasters are now predicting Ian will hit Charleston, SC, tomorrow morning as a Category 1 hurricane. Charleston is city particularly prone to flooding. A hurricane watch has been issued for the entire coastlines of South Carolina and Georgia.
Iran drone strikes in Iraq kill at least 13 over protests
Following nearly 2 weeks of protests in Iran after the death of Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, Iran has carried out drone strikes in Iraqi Kurdistan. Amini, 22, died in the custody of Iran’s morality police, who had arrested her for wearing her head scarf improperly. Days of protests in Iran left at least 72 people dead. Despite the growing protests, Iranian officials have continually downplayed their significance and blamed outside actors for instigating them. However, their reaction to the protests would suggest Iran’s elite fear the protests may have a destabilizing effect.
Yesterday, Iran carried out the deadly attacks in Iraq in apparent retaliation for the protests. The attacks killed at least 13 people and wounded nearly 60. Iraq has been in turmoil for the past year following inconclusive elections. Turkey has also apparently seized on the opportunity to launch its own airstrikes into Kurdistan from the other side. Turkish authorities claim to have been targeting rebels of the Kurdish rebel group PKK.
West blames Russia for sabotaging Baltic pipelines
NATO forces have now confirmed four leaks in two Nord Stream pipelines that carry natural gas between Russia and Germany. Both NATO and US officials have blamed Russia for deliberately sabotaging the two pipelines. The two pipelines, Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 were not operational, but still contained huge amounts of methane gas, which is now bubbling up to the surface. The gas leaks not only pose dangers to shipping, they also constitute what may be the largest ever release of climate-warming methane in a single event. Not only that, oil and gas companies are taking advantage of the panic, sending already high gas prices in Europe skyrocketing by 14%.
Putin prepares to annex Ukraine territory as at least 200,000 flee draft
Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing to sign a declaration annexing four Ukrainian territories. The regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia underwent sham referendums to join Russia starting last week. During these votes, occupying forces go house-to-house forcing people to vote. Not surprisingly, they voted to join the Russian Federation with 96% of the vote. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy condemned the sham votes and said there would be no further negotiations with Russia if Putin went ahead with the annexation. Western countries have rejected the votes as illegitimate and said they will never recognize the territories as Russian.
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