FREEPORT, Bahamas — Hurricane Dorian came to a catastrophic daylong halt over the northwest Bahamas, flooding the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama with walls of water that lapped into the second floors of buildings, trapped people in attics and drowned the Grand Bahama airport under 6 feet of water. At least five people died and 21 injured people were airlifted to the capital by the U.S. Coast Guard, Bahamas officials said.“We are in the midst of a historic tragedy,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said. “The devastation is unprecedented and extensive.”Winds and rain continued to pound the northwest islands late Monday night into early Tuesday, sending people fleeing the floodwaters from one shelter to another.“This is unprecedented,” said Jeff Masters, meteorology director at Weather Underground. “We’ve never had a Category 5 stall for so long in the Atlantic hurricane record.”Hundreds of thousands of people in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina were ordered to evacuate before the storm rolls up the Eastern Seaboard, bringing the possibility of life-threatening storm-surge flooding even if the storm’s heart stays offshore, as forecast. Several large airports announced closures and many flights were cancelled for Monday and Tuesday.The U.S. Coast Guard airlifted at least 21 people injured on Abaco Island, which Dorian hit on Sunday with sustained winds of 185 mph (295 kph) and gusts up to 220 mph (355 kph), a strength matched only by the Labor Day hurricane of 1935, before storms were named. Scientists say climate change generally has been fueling more powerful and wetter storms and the only recorded storm more powerful than Dorian was Hurricane Allen in 1980, with 190 mph (305 kph) winds, though it did not make landfall at that strength.Abaco and Grand Bahama, neither much more than 40 feet (12 metres) above sea level at their highest points, are home to some 70,000 people.Bahamian officials said they received a “tremendous” number of calls from people in flooded homes. One radio station said it received more than 2,000 distress messages, including reports of a 5-month-old baby stranded on a roof and a woman with six grandchildren who cut a hole in a roof to escape rising floodwaters. At least two designated storm shelters flooded.Dorian killed one person in Puerto Rico, at the start of its path through the Caribbean.Minnis said many homes and buildings were severely damaged or destroyed, but it was too early to say how much the rebuilding effort would cost. Choppy brown floodwaters reached roofs and the top of palm trees on Monday.Parliament member Iram Lewis told The Associated Press his greatest fear was that waters would keep rising overnight and that stranded people would lose contact with officials as cellphone batteries died.“It is scary,” he said, adding that Grand Bahama’s airport was 6 feet (almost 2 metres) underwater and that people were moving shelters as floodwaters kept surging. “We’re definitely in dire straits.”The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Dorian was expected to start moving slowly to the west-northwest overnight while continuing to pound Grand Bahama Island into the morning.The Center said the track would carry the storm “dangerously close to the Florida east coast late Tuesday through Wednesday evening and then move dangerously close to the Georgia and South Carolina coasts on Wednesday night and Thursday.”While it was expected to stay offshore, meteorologist Daniel Brown cautioned that “only a small deviation” could draw the storm’s dangerous core toward land.By midnight, the storm’s top sustained winds had dipped to 130 mph (215 kph) but it remained almost stationary. It was centred 25 miles (40 kilometres) northeast of Freeport — roughly the same distance from the city as at 9 a.m. Hurricane-force winds extended out as far as 45 mph (75 kilometres) in some directions.A mandatory evacuation of entire South Carolina coast took effect Monday covering about 830,000 people, and transportation officials reversed all lanes of Interstate 26 from Charleston to head inland earlier than planned after noticing traffic jams from evacuees and vacationers heading home on Labor Day, Gov. Henry McMaster said.A few hours later, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp ordered mandatory evacuations for that state’s Atlantic coast, also starting at midday Monday.Authorities in Florida also ordered some mandatory evacuations.FlightAware.com reported that that airlines had cancelled 1,361 flights within, into or out of the US by Monday afternoon — vastly above an average day — with Fort Lauderdale International the most affected, and airlines had already cancelled 1,057 flights for Tuesday, many involving Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Miami airports.A hurricane watch was in effect for Florida’s East Coast from Deerfield Beach north to South Santee River in South Carolina. A storm surge watch was extended northward to South Santee River in South Carolina. Lake Okeechobee was under a tropical storm watch.A National Guard official, John Anderson, said many people were complying with the evacuation orders.“We have not seen much resistance at all,” he said.___Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Weissenstein from Nassau, Bahamas. Associated Press journalists Tim Aylen in Freeport and Seth Borenstein in Washington contributed to this report.Ramon Espinosa, DáNica Coto And Michael Weissenstein, The Associated Press

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Rabat – The Court of Second Instance in Fez has postponed the investigative hearing to evaluate the charges of sexual assault of minors levied against 58-year-old Frenchman until Monday, January 22.Asmae Kabba, a social activist following the case closely and who is President of the Moroccan Association Against Violence and Homelessness, an organization that provides support to sexual assault victims, confirmed the postponement to MWN on Wednesday.Kabba said that the investigative hearing had been postponed in the absence of one of the victims. The defendant is in custody of the Police in Fez. The social activist added that the National Observatory for the Rights of the Child chaired by Princess Lalla Meryem will also join the proceedings as a civil party to advocate on behalf of the underage girls. She said that she hopes that the intervention of the princesses’ association will help speed up the process and that the defendant “will get the punishment he deserves.”Hundreds of residents in the Fez medina took to the streets once again on Wednesday to stand in solidarity with the minor girls before the Court where the French tourist previously appeared on charges of rape and sexual assault of two girls aged 11 and 14.Earlier this month, the defendant, who arrived in Morocco approximately 18 months ago and has since been introducing himself to locals in Fez as a “tourist,” was arrested on January 1 in a tailor’s workshop in the Medina after allegedly committing the sexual acts on the two little girls.In a recorded interview posted on social media, the girls claimed that the 58-year-old defendant had been grooming them with money and toys, promising gifts from France. Their identities were concealed in the film as they are filmed from behind.“When I refused to comply with his orders, he threatened me and told me that he would slaughter my family,” said one of the girls in the moving interview.During the first hearing that took place on January 5, the defendant admitted to drugging and raping the two young girls.

15 December 2009United Nations development officials held talks with Government ministers in Myanmar today aimed at boosting the impoverished country’s agricultural sector to help it reclaim its status as the rice bowl of Asia. “It is my hope these ideas and analysis will open a new space for policy discussion and a further deepening of our development partnership,” UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Executive Secretary Noeleen Heyzer said at the event held in Myanmar’s capital, Nay Pyi Taw.This development partnership, requested by the Government, provides a unique platform for eminent international scholars and local researchers to exchange experiences and ideas with government agencies and civil society, she added of this the second in a series of events being organized by ESCAP with the country’s Ministries of Agriculture and Irrigation, and National Planning and Economic Development.At ESCAP’s invitation, Nobel Prize-winning economist Professor Joseph Stiglitz and other eminent experts discussed various strategies for Myanmar to reduce poverty in light of Asia’s regional and sub-regional experiences. Mr. Stiglitz noted that Myanmar was well-positioned to learn from other countries in the region that have developed economically on the back of gains in agriculture.There are large opportunities for improvement and Myanmar should take a comprehensive approach, he said, urging the Government to promote access to appropriate agricultural financing and boost access to seeds and fertilizers. The country should also dramatically boost spending on health and education, and create well-paid jobs in construction of rural infrastructure to stimulate development and raise incomes and spending.Mr. Stiglitz also noted that well-functioning institutions were critical to success, stressing that revenues from oil and gas can open up a new era, if used well. If not, then valuable opportunities will be squandered, he warned said, adding that economics and politics cannot be separated.For Myanmar to take a role on the world stage and to achieve true stability and security, there must be widespread participation and inclusive processes, he said.Myanmar’s Agriculture and Irrigation Minister U Htay Oo welcomed the continued close cooperation with ESCAP in the development partnership series. “I look forward to the joint activities to come in 2010, in particular the regional development programme for sustainable agriculture towards inclusive rural economy development,” he said.

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