Category: Travel

Officials in a popular stretch of coastal North Carolina ordered all visitors to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Irene, which damaged homes in the Bahamas Wednesday as it churned toward the U.S. East Coast.

Irene, with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph, could jump to Category 4 strength by Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said. Federal emergency management officials had a simple message for those in or near the path: Be prepared.

Dare County, North Carolina — home to Manteo, Nags Head, Duck and Kitty Hawk — was taking no chances. A mandatory evacuation for tourists was to take effect 8 a.m. ET Thursday. Residents could stay for now, but they were advised to ready themselves for Irene.

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse closed Wednesday evening. Other venues, including the Wright Brothers National Memorial visitors center, also were shuttered.

Gallery: Hurricane Irene intensifies

Irene reaches Category 3 near Bahamas

Florida prepares for Irene

Irene strikes Turks and Caicos

“They are taking precautions,” Sydney Jenkins, bar manager at Poor Richard’s Sandwich Shop in Manteo, said Wednesday evening. “It’s now more or less whether it’s even going to hit us.”

“This is a huge storm,” said CNN meteorologist Jacqui Jeras. “The cloud field is more than 800 miles across. The tropical storm force winds extend out 200 miles from the center.”

The strengthening came as the storm pounded central and southeastern Bahamas. Rainfall of 6 to 12 inches was expected in the Bahamas, with 15 inches possible in some places, the Miami-based Hurricane Center said.

At 8 p.m. ET Wednesday, Irene was moving northwest at 12 mph and was between Rum Cay and Long Island, 185 miles southeast of Nassau. Hurricane-force winds extended up to 60 miles and U.S. weather officials predicted significant storm surge.

“We are urging persons in central Bahamas to exercise extreme caution,” said Capt. Stephen Russell, head of the National Emergency Management Agency in the island chain.

No injuries had been reported as of Wednesday evening, but extensive structural damage from wind was reported on Acklins and Crooked islands, Russell told CNN. Numerous homes had been blown off their foundations.

Russell had no information on rainfall amounts. Electricity was out in some locations.

Irene whipped through the island of Mayaguana, the mostly easterly island in the chain, and moved into Long, San Salvador and Cat islands, which are not heavily populated.

About 65% of the country’s population is on New Providence, home to Nassau. Projections showed the island being outside of hurricane-force winds, Russell said. “We hope the system makes a gradual turn to the northeast.”

After it makes the turn, Irene could threaten large sections of the Eastern Seaboard, from the Carolinas into the Northeast.

But, forecasters said, it was too soon to predict how it would affect the United States because of the “cone of uncertainty.”

Even if Irene doesn’t touch land or glances off the U.S. coast, “the waves are going to be tremendous,” said CNN meteorologist Chad Myers.

Swells generated by Irene will begin affecting the Southeast’s coast Thursday.

“On the forecast track, the core of Irene will move across the southeastern and central Bahamas through tonight and over the northwestern Bahamas on Thursday,” the Hurricane Center said.

Irene forced more than a dozen cruise ships to change their itineraries in the Caribbean, reported.

Those ships include the Carnival Sensation, which had been docked in Freeport, Bahamas, but was coming back to Port Canaveral, Florida, late Wednesday.

Irene has prompted the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation to recommend strongly that people with plans to travel to the Bahamas in the next few days postpone their trips.

The storm will curve northward as it nears the United States, with most of the latest projections suggesting the storm will avoid landfall until it is north of North Carolina. The storm is expected to arrive off North Carolina by Saturday morning.

The storm approaches as Americans increasingly are relying on social media to prepare for and keep abreast of disasters. According to two American Red Cross surveys, the increased use of social media and mobile technology has caused response agencies “to engage with people in times of disaster and to include information from social networks in their response efforts.”

North Carolina officials expect the storm to weaken to a Category 2 before it moves near Cape Hatteras on Saturday afternoon. Coastal areas could see about 6 inches of rain and tropical storm force winds.

Many counties were taking a wait-and-see attitude on evacuations. Warren Lee, emergency management director in New Hanover County, North Carolina, said shelters likely will be opened. “If the storm stays on current track, we don’t expect a major impact and we will not issue an evacuation order plan right now.”

Some computer models suggest New York or New Jersey could be hit.

“Everywhere from North Carolina to Massachusetts remains in the cone of uncertainty,” Jeras said. “Worst-case scenario, we could be looking at two landfalls, or we could be lucky and get a brush instead of a direct hit. … Even if Irene doesn’t make landfall in the United States, it may very well bring flooding rains, damaging winds and power outages to the Northeast. Planning is critical, and everyone needs to be ready with a disaster plan and a safety kit.”

Chris Martin, an employee at Endeavor Seafood in Newport, Rhode Island, said a bridal shower is scheduled Sunday in Portsmouth for his fiancee. “We’re hoping to have it outside.”

Martin is hoping the hurricane, if it actually affects the state, will not arrive until Monday.

Hyde County, in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, declared a state of emergency for Ocracoke Island and the county’s mainland, along with a mandatory evacuation for all visitors and a voluntary evacuation for residents. The mandatory evacuation will extend to residents beginning 5 a.m. Thursday, Hyde County Emergency Services said.

Ocracoke is reachable only by boat or private plane.

While forecasts showed the storm “moving further from the coast and toward the sea,” North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue said Wednesday, “we must all prepare for the worst.”

In Kill Devil Hills in the Outer Banks, locals who insist on staying through the storm were planning “hurricane parties” as they stocked up on water, canned food and flashlight batteries, said CNN iReporter Penelope Penn, who was in the area Tuesday.

“The water was so calm and the sky so clear at the Outer Banks last night. It truly is calmest before a storm,” Penn added. On Wednesday, Penn was in nearby Virginia Beach, Virginia.

The last major hurricane to strike the United States was Wilma in 2005, which was a Category 3 at landfall, Jeras said. Hurricane Katrina, earlier the same year, was also a Category 3 at landfall. The most recent hurricane to make landfall in the United States was Ike in 2008, which hit near Galveston, Texas, as a Category 2.

Gloria in 1985 was the most recent hurricane to hit New York. It was a Category 3 at landfall, the National Hurricane Center said. In 1991, Hurricane Bob hit Massachusetts, a Category 2 at landfall.

Bill Read, director of the Hurricane Center, said Irene could cause problems with flooding in Northeastern states that have already had lots of rainfall this summer.

Widespread damage is possible from the coastal Carolinas all the way up to the Canadian Maritimes, including the major cities of the Northeast, CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen said.

Irene is expected to pass well east of Florida, so only minimal effects are expected Thursday and Friday as the storm moves northward toward the Carolinas. But the U.S. Coast Guard is worried boaters in south Florida are taking the threat too lightly.

Officials expect heavy rip currents and beach erosion in Miami. “The most prudent thing to make sure mariners are not out this time tomorrow,” Capt. Chris Scraba said.

South Carolina state officials decided not to order evacuations. Boaters and swimmers were urged by the Coast Guard to stay out of the water.


In addition to his fast food mealan eight-year-old child in Sweden also received an unexpected “gift”: a Swastika tattoo.

The surprising addition was one of several tattoos included in the meal.

“We could not believe our eyes. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry,” the youth’s mother, Malin Hagglund said.

The owners of the fast food restaurant, Frasses, apologized for the incident. They said the tattoos were from China and including the Swastika was a mistake.

The Local notes that the symbol is found in several Asian languages.

It seems like we’ve got a new Mealbreaker category on our hands; the food may not be contaminated but nonetheless an offensive tattoo can certainly spoil a meal.

It is hoped a Bob Marley song will help bring awareness to the thousands suffering from the famine in the Horn of Africa.

It is hoped a Bob Marley song will help bring awareness to the thousands suffering from the famine in the Horn of Africa.

A new social media campaign hopes to harness the power of celebrities and a Bob Marley song to help bring awareness to the thousands suffering from the famine in the Horn of Africa.

The “I’m Gonna Be Your Friend” campaign, which kicks off Tuesday, is named for a line in Marley’s 1973 song “High Tide Or Low Tide.”

It uses the song as the soundtrack to a short film on the East African crisis directed by award-winning director Kevin MacDonald.

Among MacDonald’s movies is the critically acclaimed “Last King of Scotland.”

Prominent celebrities — such as Eminem, Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Britney Spears — have pledged to promote the film by posting it on their Facebook pages or offering links on their Twitter feeds.

The video is also on sale, with proceeds going to Save The Children.

“With over 150 global stars already signed up and more joining by the hour, the combined total of their fans and followers on the social networks is over 700 hundred million people,” the campaign said. “This huge number will not only help raise awareness of the scale of the crisis but also vital funds for those suffering in the region.”

Twelve million people are facing a hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa. Somalia has been hardest hit.

“Not one child should be denied food nor water. Not one child should suffer. Along with Save the Children, we must stand up together as friends to put a stop to this, to feed our children and to save their lives,” said Rita Marley, Marley’s wife.

Independent Samoans are very tradition-oriented, very steeped in a complex set of social hierarchies, courtesies and customs that regulate their social, religious and political life. Independent Samoan culture is based on fa’amatai, a system of government that has a chief, or matai, governing an entire aiga or extended family. Wealth and food are distributed on a needs basis and honour and social standing is shared or shouldered equally by all members of the aiga. The matai represents the family on the village council, metes out justice, and makes sure that all customs are properly observed. In fact Independent Samoa has more rules of etiquette than a finishing school for young ladies and a keen sense of propriety and respect. The matai is also a living archive, responsible for remembering the ancient folk lore, the family genealogies, and the stories of the old gods, and passing them onto his successor.Although Samoan culture dates back thousands of years and is still passed on through poems, genealogies and stories of the old gods, most Samoans these days are devout Christians. Religion is a big part of Samoan life and Sunday service is the most important event in the week.

Absolute fealty to, and respect for, the church leader is a must, as is the strict observance of religious rules. This whole-hearted embracing of a transplanted religion may seem a little odd but more than one person has suggested that Christianity on the islands has been ‘samoanised’. In much the same way that games of cricket are played with three-sided bats and Samoan checkers can include eccentric rules like jumping over the whole board, so the Samoan version of Christianity often has non-Samoans scratching their heads in bewilderment.Dancing, singing and music play a big part in Samoan culture. The fiafia was originally a village play or musical presentation performed by a number of villagers but these days it simply refers to a bit of a Samoan knees up at the larger hotels. Both the siva (a dance performed by women acting out impromptu stories with their hands) and the sa sa (a dance performed to the beating of a wooden mallet) are performed. Tattooing is a significant rite in Independent Samoa and involves more than a visit to the local Tatt Parlour on a Friday night full of Dutch courage and bravado to get a Betty Boop figure stenciled on a bicep. At age 12 or 13 Samoan males go to the tufuga, or tattooist, and get tattooed from waist to knee. The tattoos represent the strength of a man’s heart and his spirituality but on a more practical note if you can bear the pain of a months’ worth of tattooing, you can bear anything.

Food in Samoa derives mainly from tropical crops, root vegetables, coconut products, fresh fruit, pork, chicken and, of course, seafood. The traditional Polynesian feast is cooked in an umu, an above-the-ground oven. The traditional Sunday meal is nearly always cooked in the umu‘Ava or kava is a drink made from the ground roots of pepper plants and has a mild tranquilising effect. It is usually drunk as a prelude to ceremonial gatherings and village meetings.

For more general information on Samoa, go to:

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We have included Samoa in some of our specials to the South Pacific, eg. ourBounty Voyage and South Sea Dream Voyage.Another option is to create your own package to Samoa by utilizing the seperate travel components, like hotelscarrentalflights and excursions on the islands.


The dissipation of Tropical Storm Emily in the Caribbean Sea on Thursday removed much potential for change in our weekend’s weather.

The possibility of a tropical storm passing off the state’s East Coast threw a small question into the forecast for the next three days.

Even if the storm passed well out to sea on the other side of the state, forecasters at theNational Weather Service office in Ruskin couldn’t discount its potential to have some effect on Saturday, mainly more clouds and rain.

Instead of Emily possibly smearing more cooling clouds over us, the storm’s destruction on the mountains of Hispaniola leaves Saturday looking similar to Friday, only possibly hotter.

With high pressure still controlling most of the conditions, things will remain hot, though forecasts starting Friday and through the weekend do return rain chances closer to what we expect to see this time of year.

Forecasters say we’ll see 40 percent rain chances on Friday and possibly 50 percent on Saturday.

Temperatures, though, will be above normal and hit the low 90s around New Port Richey and middle 90s away from the coast in Land O’ Lakes.

The average daytime high for early August is 90 degrees and the average low temperature is 76.

So it’s back to afternoons when the combination of temperature and humidity will make things feel like about 105.

That’s except for Saturday when the weather service says the heat index could be close to 110 degrees, especially inland.

We can also expect the nights to continue providing almost no relief as the low temperatures remain not so low, falling into the lower 80s near the coast and only a few degrees cooler inland.

On Wednesday morning, low temperatures set several records not for the coolest temperature on Aug. 3, but for the warmest Aug. 3 morning in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota.

The low of 82 in Tampa and St. Petersburg broke the record of 81 degrees in 1941 in Tampa and of 80 degrees set in 2009 in St. Petersburg.

In Sarasota, the low of 80 degrees broke the mark of 79 degrees set in 1954.

The remains of Emily, a large area of thunderstorms, will continue to drift to the west northwest over Cuba and the Bahamas.

There is a chance the storm will reform once it passes Cuba, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said.

Emily, never a well-formed storm, was torn apart by the mountains of Hispaniola on Thursday afternoon, contrary to all but a few of the intensity forecast models that predicted Emily would survive and become a hurricane by Sunday or Monday.

That leaves the 2011 season with five named storms but no hurricanes. Typically, the first Atlantic hurricane arrives by Aug. 10.

And typically, a hurricane season doesn’t produce five named storms until Aug. 31.


The Chicago City Council approved, without debate, a more strict citywide curfew for children 12 years of age or younger Thursday.

Unsupervised minors aged 12 and younger will now need to be in their homes by 8:30 p.m. on weekdays and by 9 p.m. on the weekends in order to avoid a fine of up to $500 or community service. Three offenses within a one-year period will be subjected to a $1,500 fine in addition to community service, according to a statement from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who, along with Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy, was a strong proponent of the ordinance.

“I advocated for curfew laws while serving President Clinton because I believe the safest place for a child is at home,” Emanuel said. “I commend the aldermen for getting this ordinance passed. This is another tool that will help fight crime and help children from becoming victims of crime.”

Minors aged 12 to 16 will be required to continue to adhere to the existing curfew of being indoors by 10 p.m. on weekdays and by 11 p.m. on weekends, according to the statement.

Alderman Toni Foulkes (15th) was among a group of three aldermen who proposed the changes to the city’s curfew law earlier this month. Foulkes told the Chicago Defender that the existing law had given kids “too much leeway.”

“A 5-year-old has the same ordinance as a 17-year-old,” Foulkes told the Defender. “It’s basically just to protect those children.”

The city points to studies indicating that other cities — like San Antonio, Tex., and Detroit, Mich. — who instituted similarly strengthened curfew laws saw a reduction in both youth violence and arrests.

It should be pointed out that none of those cities, however, are as large and were likely not anywhere near as budget-strained or short on police manpower at the time they were evaluated — 1997 in the case of the San Antonio study — as Chicago is today. Other studies, such as one of California crime data in 1998, have shown that stricter curfews did not lead to a reduction in youth-involved crime.

Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Shields seemed to express a fair degree of skepticism regarding whether the ordinance would have much of an impact beyond symbolism, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

It’s not going to be enforceable,” Shields told the Sun-Times. “If we can’t enforce laws to curb street violence because of manpower issues, how can we enforce [and even stricter] curfew law?”

Alderman Anthony Beale (9th Ward), former Police Committee Chairman, also was previously not a fan of the ordinance, though he joined his colleagues in approving it Thursday, which he said could “penalize our children for enjoying the summer months,” according to the Sun-Times.

The new curfew law goes into effect Sept. 18.

Butt Slasher


Police in Virginia are trying to track down a man believed to have slashed at least five women on the butt.

A few days ago, an 18-year-old woman was shopping at Forever 21 in Fairfax, Virginia when she felt a sharp pain on her rear end, report from NBC Washington. She told police she thought at first that she had been struck with a clothes hanger. Only after further inspection did she realize she had been cut through her shorts with a box cutter or razor.

According to the victims, the attack usually occurs after a distraction, such as clothes falling off a rack. Afterward, the attacker calmly walks away without drawing attention to himself.

Lucy Caldwell of the Fairfax County Police told the station that one reason for the perpetrator’s success could be because of the rarity of the crime.

“Because it’s such an unusual thing, no one would ever expect something like that to occur,” she said. “They may be walking along and put their hand to their backside and feel it.”

Gregg McCrary, a former FBI profiler, told the News & Messenger that although the women are not seriously harmed, the violence could escalate if he is not caught.

“The dangerous thing here is he’s actually hurting women,” he told the publication. “He’s already crossed that threshold into physical contact. But this is a good news-bad news situation. He’ll just keep doing this until he’s caught and by keeping on doing this, he’ll caught.”

NBC Washington gave a detailed description of the suspect:

“According to Fairfax police, the suspect is desribed as Hispanic, in his late 20’s, approximately 5’6” in height, and heavy-set.”

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Swinging for Jesus!

A Dallas, Tx., club is being sued by the city for operating as an after-hours swingers club in a location marked for occupancy by a church.

The Playground, a swingers club that also operates as a church according to its owner, Glenn Hudson, is being sued for operating without a license for a sexually oriented business.

In a court hearing Tuesday, Hudson said The Playground is a religious “outreach mission,” the Dallas attorney’s office said a statement.

The city of Dallas says a man who claims his after-hours dance club is a church also operates a swingers club on a property licensed for a place of worship.

Dallas filed a lawsuit late Monday against Glenn Hudson, the owner of The Playground. The city said it is an unlicensed sexually oriented business that operates on a property in the 11300 block of Harry Hines Boulevard that has a certificate of occupancy as a church, mosque or synagogue.

In a court hearing Tuesday, Hudson said The Playground is a religious “outreach mission,” the Dallas attorney’s office said a statement.

Hudson similarly defended a business that was the subject of a separate lawsuit last week.

Future of Denton Business Grants in Question

The city filed suit over after-hours dance parties held at a “drug-infested” club that does not have a permit to operate as a dance club. Hudson told the city Darkside is a youth outreach ministry, according to court documents.

According to court papers, a three-month Dallas police investigation of The Playground indicates it is a swingers club that “caters to adults, often couples, who wish to engage in random consensual sexual activities on-site with adults other than their spouses.”

Hudson allegedly shows pornographic videos on big-screen televisions and has topless dancers. Court documents also said a VIP area offered beds, condoms and more pornographic videos.

Click here to read the rest of this story.




“When everyone else was leaving the neighborhood, we stayed,” said Rabbi Eli Cohen, executive director of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council. “We said, ‘we have nothing to be afraid of; this is our community too, we can work together.’”

At a roundtable meeting with a handful of community leaders, Cohen shared his perspective on how his own Hasidic Jewish community of Crown Heights viewed early black and Jewish race relations in the 60s and 70s in Brooklyn.

The roundtable meeting, held last month in June, was called by the art directors at the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation to discuss possible sensitivities and community reaction to its upcoming art exhibit, Crown Heights Gold, which will debut tomorrow, July 28, at the Skylight Gallery.

Crown Heights Gold is a commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Crown Heights Riots – perhaps, one of the loudest failures in black and Jewish relations in Brooklyn’s modern history, and definitely not the direction Rabbi Cohen envisioned for “working together.”

August 1991: A seven-year-old black boy named Gavin Cato stopped to fix his bike on President Street in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, when he was hit by a car. The car that hit and killed him was driven by 22-year-old Yosef Lifsh, a Hasidic Jew.

After a private Jewish emergency service arrived on the scene and reportedly carried away Lifsh and left Cato, outrage erupted throughout the predominantly black community of Crown Heights, resulting in three days of rioting where an innocent, 29-year-old Jewish student, Yankel Rosenbaum, also was stabbed and killed.

The Crown Heights Gold exhibition takes an up-close-and-personal look at this community tragedy, examining, through the lens of various artists, the chain of events that produced the perfect storm leading to the riots, including the community’s visceral reaction during the riots and also the sociological fallout of its occurrence.

The show is an effort to pay homage to the lives lost, to heal and to reconcile the past with present.

Through painting, photography, sculpture and mixed media, an interracial and inter-generational group of 23 artists will explore the face of race relations, particularly amongst blacks and Jews, and more specifically, as it relates to the Crown Heights riot.

The exhibit runs from July 28 – October 31, 2011. Other public programs will accompany the exhibit throughout the months of August, September and October, including an artist talk, a community panel discussion and a youth workshop.

“I think people’s memories for historical occurrences are very short,” said Dexter Wimberly, the project’s curator. “There are those that remember the riots, and then there’s an entire generation out there that has no idea about what happened, or why the community is the way it is today. I think it’s necessary to re-engage people. The incident may be 20 years old, but the subject matter is as fresh as this morning.”

Wimberly’s other projects include the acclaimed exhibition, The Gentrification of Brooklyn: The Pink Elephant, which debuted at the Museum of the Contemporary African Diaspora Arts (MoCADA) last summer.

Although most of the artists were born and raised in Brooklyn, and of that group, many are from Crown Heights, some were still young children during the riots and have no real recollection, while another small group of international artist weren’t even living in the United States at the time.

Wimberly pointed out, when he did a call for artists, it was important every artist have his or her own point of view. He said, he felt no compulsion to necessarily guide people’s opinions or make sure everyone interprets the messages in only one way.

“This is just a point of entry to a bigger engagement,” he said. “Doing a show in a didactic way of saying this is what happened, this is who was involved, and this is what the newspaper and media said, it doesn’t serve a purpose of being an art exhibition. You can get that from a panel discussion or a community gathering.

“If we’re going to infuse art into it, then we need to use art for what art is good for, which is making people think in unusual ways about things that are rather common.”

Photographer Jamel Shabazz contributes two pieces, entitled, “What If,” each a portrait of a large, extended family – one black and one Hasidic Jew – suggesting that if both Cato and Lifsh had lived, they could have produced families of that nature.

“It was a very tense time in New York, the tail end of the crack epidemic; Minister Farrakhan was leading the Nation [of Islam], there was a lot of racial tension all over America, and I didn’t like it,” said Shabazz, who grew up in East Flatbush.

David Dinkins was mayor of New York City during the riots, and not dissimilar to the Barack Obama era, a black man at the helm raised a lot of racial tension, discord and divide amongst the white population at the time. 1991 also marked the year of the City University protests and building takeovers, the Rodney King beating, the end of the Persian Gulf War, and the end of Apartheid in South Africa.

“I have my own feelings about what happened,” said Shabazz. “As I was searching for images for this exhibition, I made it a point to stand in front of the synagogue and also attend the West Indian Day parade and document the two worlds.

“I had experience with a lot of Hasidic Jews as a young boy, and over time, I grew to respect them. I also had a relationship with a black woman that was raised in the Yeshiva. But for Crown Heights, it’s still complicated.”

Wimberly admitted, he did not reach out to the families of the victims in researching or curating the exhibit. He said he was careful to walk a fine line between remaining sensitive to all those involved who may have vastly different points of views, and also allowing ample room for individual artist interpretation.

“The most difficult part about me conceiving this project is the fact that I have a son that is the same age as when Gavin Cato was killed. And I had to ask myself, ‘If my son had died in that way, how would I feel about someone doing an exhibition 20 years later?’”

“It’s a hard question to ask yourself; how would I really know?” said Wimberly. “But I have to say, I think I would respect the fact that someone is remembering my child.”

The opening reception for Crown Heights Gold is Thursday, July 28, from 6:00pm – 8:00pm, at the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation Center for Arts and Culture Skylight Gallery, located at 1368 Fulton Street, 3rd floor. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Friday, 11:00am to 6:00pm and Saturdays, 1:00pm to 6:00pm

MANILA, Philippines >> A slow-moving storm unleashed massive floods and landslides Tuesday in the northeastern Philippines, killing at least 10 people with 10 missing and several towns isolated.

Gov. Joey Salceda said three children died in a landslide in a mountainside village in his Albay province’s Polangui town, while two men were pinned to death by a fallen coconut tree. Two other people died in storm-related accidents in the hard-hit province.

Fourteen fishermen who were reported missing at sea after strong wind and waves destroyed their motor boat off Balesin Island in Quezon province survived the ordeal by swimming to shore and were helped to safety by villagers, said Benito Ramos, administrator of the Office of Civil Defense.

“Many of our towns seemed like islands. They were isolated from each other,” Salceda told The Associated Press by telephone from the Albay provincial capital of Legazpi, where he was overseeing rescue efforts for stranded villagers.

Other fatalities included a man electrocuted by a cable from a toppled power post while another drowned in eastern Catanduanes province. A villager suffered a heart attack at the height of the storm in Camarines Sur Province.

Waist-deep floodwaters swamped the houses of about half a million people, or nearly half of Albay’s population, after Tropical Storm Nock-ten set off pounding rains overnight and forced many to flee to safer areas, including churches and village halls, Salceda said.

He said that four men were reported missing after the storm flooded and isolated many of Albay’s 15 farming towns and three cities.

Six other people were missing in the stormy weather in nearby provinces, officials said.

Salceda said the storm caused power outages and suspended classes. Authorities canceled several domestic flights and ferry operations, stranding passengers.

Forecasters said Nock-ten was packing sustained winds of 47 miles (75 kilometers) per hour and gusts of 56 mph (90 kph) off eastern Camarines Norte province. It dumped heavy rains as it moved slowly toward Luzon’s eastern coast.

The storm, which has a 310-mile (500-km) -wide cloud band, was expected to blow into eastern Quezon province early Wednesday then barrel through the provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga just north of the Philippine capital, where grade and high school classes were canceled, said Undersecretary Graciano Yumul of the government weather agency.

Regional disaster-response official Raffy Alejandro said the storm inundated seven towns of Camarines Sur in the province’s worst flooding in five years.

Army troops and coast guard personnel planned to bring seven rubber boats to rescue some villagers trapped on roofs but a key highway was blocked by floodwaters and mudflows from Albay’s Mayon volcano, Alejandro said.

Alejandro said his typhoon-prone region did not have even one helicopter for rescue operations. The air force pulled out their aircraft from the area for unspecified reasons a few months ago despite his appeal for at least two standby choppers during the typhoon season that started in June, Alejandro said.

Nock-ten, a Laotian word for bird, is the 10th of about 21 typhoons and storms expected to lash the Philippines this year.


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