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At least 22 dead in Alabama tornado, toll expected to rise

SACRAMENTO, California: At least 22 people, some of them children, died after a tornado swept through Lee County, Alabama on Sunday, and the death toll was expected to rise as rescuers searched through the rubble of destroyed homes, authorities and media said. Emergency workers faced a grim night of pulling the dead and injured from…

At least 22 dead in Alabama tornado, toll expected to rise

SACRAMENTO, California: At least 22 people, some of them children, died after a tornado swept through Lee County, Alabama on Sunday, and the death toll was expected to rise as rescuers searched through the rubble of destroyed homes, authorities and media said.

Emergency workers faced a grim night of pulling the dead and injured from the wreckage of homes and businesses.

“The challenge is the sheer volume of the debris where all the homes were located,” Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said in an interview with CNN. “It’s the most I’ve seen that I can recall.”

Storms, including at least one apparent tornado, uprooted trees and destroyed homes in neighboring Georgia, initially knocking out power to 21,000 customers, said Georgia Power spokeswoman Meredith Stone.

On Twitter, US President Donald Trump urged residents of Alabama and other areas affected by the storms to be “careful and safe.”

“Tornadoes and storms were truly violent and more could be coming,” Trump wrote. “To the families and friends of the victims, and to the injured, God bless you all!”

In Alabama, Lee County Coroner Bill Harris said the death toll could rise.

“We’ve still got people being pulled out of rubble,” he told the Birmingham News newspaper early on Sunday evening. “We’re going to be here all night.”

The East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika said in a statement that it was treating more than 40 patients as a result of the tornado and expected to receive more. Some patients had been sent to other hospitals, it added.

Severe weather unleashed one of many possible tornadoes that threatened the Southern United States on Sunday afternoon. Tornado warnings and watches were in effect for parts of Georgia and Alabama through Sunday evening.

Video footage from the small community of Beauregard in Lee County showed homes reduced to piles of wreckage, felled trees, and debris from blasted buildings scattered across roads.

Photos posted on social media from a highway near Smiths Station, about 20 miles (32 km) east of Beauregard, showed a large bar called the Buck Wild Saloon with its roof torn off and missing most of a wall after the storm swept through.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey warned residents on Twitter that more severe weather might be on the way.

A state of emergency for Alabama, issued on Feb. 23 to deal with flooding, would be extended, she said.

“Our hearts go out to those who lost their lives in the storms that hit Lee County today,” Ivey wrote. “Praying for their families & everyone whose homes or businesses were affected.”

Lee County Schools announced on Twitter that campuses in the county would be closed on Monday.

The National Weather Service office in Birmingham, Alabama, said it was sending three survey teams out on Monday to assess damage in Autauga, Macon, Lee and Barbor counties.

“Please stay out of damaged areas so first responders can do their job,” the NWS office said on Twitter.

The storm initially left 17,000 customers without power in Alabama, but crews were able to reduce that number to 6,000 by about 9 p.m. EST on Sunday, said Michael Sznajderman, spokesman for the utility Alabama Power.

As thousands faced a night without power, temperatures looked set to fall to near freezing following the storm.

“Colder air will sweep into the Southeast behind the severe weather with temperatures dropping into the 30s (1 C) southward to central Georgia and across most of Alabama by Monday morning,” AccuWeather meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said.

“Those without power who rely on electric heat need to find ways to stay warm,” she added.

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UK PM Theresa May to ask lawmakers to vote on a second Brexit referendum

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May said her government will include in her Withdrawal Agreement Bill a requirement for lawmakers to vote on whether to hold another Brexit referendum. “I recognise the genuine and sincere strength of feeling across the House on this important issue,” May said. “The government will therefore include in the Withdrawal…

UK PM Theresa May to ask lawmakers to vote on a second Brexit referendum

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May said her government will include in her Withdrawal Agreement Bill a requirement for lawmakers to vote on whether to hold another Brexit referendum.

“I recognise the genuine and sincere strength of feeling across the House on this important issue,” May said. “The government will therefore include in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at introduction a requirement to vote on whether to hold a second referendum.”

“So to those MPs who want a second referendum to confirm the deal – you need a deal and therefore Withdrawal Agreement Bill to make it happen,” May said.

May is offering concessions in what she says is a “last chance” to secure an orderly British departure from the bloc.

The deal that she struck with the EU has been rejected by UK lawmakers three times already.

Since then, she has tried to secure backing from lawmakers with promises to maintain high standards on workers’ rights and environmental protections — issues that are priorities for the left-of-center opposition Labour Party.

She also said UK lawmakers would get to decide how close a trade relationship to seek with the EU after Brexit, in a concession to Labour’s demands for a customs union.

May said she was “making a new offer to find common ground in Parliament.”

“I have compromised. Now I ask you to compromise too,” she said.

May has said that after Parliament votes on the bill she will set out a timetable for her departure as Conservative leader and prime minister. Pro-Brexit Conservatives blame May for the country’s political deadlock and want to replace her with a staunch Brexit supporter such as Boris Johnson, a former foreign secretary.

(With agencies)

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Venezuelans fleeing crisis deserve refugee status: UN

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May said her government will include in her Withdrawal Agreement Bill a requirement for lawmakers to vote on whether to hold another Brexit referendum. “I recognise the genuine and sincere strength of feeling across the House on this important issue,” May said. “The government will therefore include in the Withdrawal…

Venezuelans fleeing crisis deserve refugee status: UN

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May said her government will include in her Withdrawal Agreement Bill a requirement for lawmakers to vote on whether to hold another Brexit referendum.

“I recognise the genuine and sincere strength of feeling across the House on this important issue,” May said. “The government will therefore include in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at introduction a requirement to vote on whether to hold a second referendum.”

“So to those MPs who want a second referendum to confirm the deal – you need a deal and therefore Withdrawal Agreement Bill to make it happen,” May said.

May is offering concessions in what she says is a “last chance” to secure an orderly British departure from the bloc.

The deal that she struck with the EU has been rejected by UK lawmakers three times already.

Since then, she has tried to secure backing from lawmakers with promises to maintain high standards on workers’ rights and environmental protections — issues that are priorities for the left-of-center opposition Labour Party.

She also said UK lawmakers would get to decide how close a trade relationship to seek with the EU after Brexit, in a concession to Labour’s demands for a customs union.

May said she was “making a new offer to find common ground in Parliament.”

“I have compromised. Now I ask you to compromise too,” she said.

May has said that after Parliament votes on the bill she will set out a timetable for her departure as Conservative leader and prime minister. Pro-Brexit Conservatives blame May for the country’s political deadlock and want to replace her with a staunch Brexit supporter such as Boris Johnson, a former foreign secretary.

(With agencies)

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Sweden asks for detention of WikiLeaks’ Assange

WASHINGTON: The US military said one of its warships sailed near the disputed Scarborough Shoal claimed by China in the South China Sea on Sunday, a move likely to anger Beijing at a time of tense ties between the world’s two biggest economies.The busy waterway is one of a growing number of flashpoints in the…

Sweden asks for detention of WikiLeaks’ Assange

WASHINGTON: The US military said one of its warships sailed near the disputed Scarborough Shoal claimed by China in the South China Sea on Sunday, a move likely to anger Beijing at a time of tense ties between the world’s two biggest economies.The busy waterway is one of a growing number of flashpoints in the US-China relationship, which also include a trade war, US sanctions and Taiwan.China struck a more aggressive tone in its trade war with the United States on Friday. The tough talk capped a week that saw Beijing unveil fresh retaliatory tariffs.The US destroyer Preble carried out the operation, a US military spokesman told Reuters.“Preble sailed within 12 nautical miles of Scarborough Reef in order to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law,” said Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the Seventh Fleet.It was the second such US military operation in the South China Sea in the last month. On Wednesday, the chief of the US Navy said its freedom of navigation movements in the disputed South China Sea drew more attention than they deserved.The US military has a long-standing position that its operations are carried out throughout the world, including areas claimed by allies, and they are separate from political considerations.The operation was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing’s efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, where Chinese, Japanese and some Southeast Asian navies operate.China claims almost all of the strategic South China Sea and frequently lambasts the United States and its allies over naval operations near Chinese-occupied islands.Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have competing claims in the region.China and the United States have repeatedly traded barbs in the past over what Washington says is Beijing’s militarization of the South China Sea by building military installations on artificial islands and reefs.China defends its construction as necessary for self-defense and says the United States is responsible for ratcheting up tension in the region by sending warships and military planes close to islands Beijing claims.Last month, China’s navy chief said freedom of navigation should not be used to infringe upon the rights of other nations.

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