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Mass evacuations on US east coast as Hurricane Florence heads toward Carolinas

Thompson Reuters

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HOLDEN BEACH — Mass evacuations were ordered along the US Atlantic Coast as Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 storm and the most powerful to menace the region in nearly three decades, barreled toward the region on Tuesday.

Governor Ralph Northam issued an evacuation order for about 245,000 residents in flood-prone coastal Virginia beginning at 8 am local time while South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has ordered more than 1 million residents along his state’s coastline to leave starting at noon on Tuesday.

“This is a serious storm and it’s going to effect the entire state,” Northam told a news conference. “Everyone in Virginia needs to prepare.”

Florence, packing winds of 140 miles per hour (220 kph), was expected to grow even stronger before making landfall on Thursday, mostly likely in southeastern North Carolina near the South Carolina border, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference his state was in ‘the bull’s eye’.

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At least 250,000 more people were due to be evacuated from the northern Outer Banks in North Carolina on Tuesday after more than 50,000 people were ordered on Monday to leave Hatteras and Ocracoke, the southernmost of the state’s barrier islands.

North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland governors have declared states of emergency.

Authorities warned of life-threatening coastal storm surges and the potential for Florence to unleash prolonged torrential rains and widespread flooding, especially if it lingers inland for several days.

NHC Director Ken Graham warned of “staggering” amounts of rainfall that may extend hundreds of miles inland and cause flash flooding across the mid-Atlantic region.

Forecasts expect 10 to 15 inches (25-38 cm) of rain in the hardest-hit areas, possibly more if the storm stalls over land, as expected, Graham said.

Mindful of devastation wrought by a string of deadly U.S. hurricanes last year, residents in the Carolinas began the rituals of disaster preparation — boarding up windows and stocking up on groceries, water and gasoline.

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32 dead, 1 missing in Papua attacks, Indonesian police say

AP Associated Press

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JAYAPURA, INDONESIA- Security forces tried to recover the bodies of 31 construction workers and a soldier who were killed in one of the worst separatist attacks in Indonesia’s restive province of Papua, officials said Tuesday.

Papua police spokesman Suryadi Diaz said 24 workers were killed on Sunday when gunmen stormed a government bridge construction project in a remote mountainous village in Nduga district.

Citing reports from several witnesses, Diaz said, eight other workers fled to the nearby house of a local parliament member, but an armed group came a day later and killed seven of them. However the eighth managed to escape and remains missing.

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“This is the worst attack launched by the armed criminal group recently amid intensified development by the government,” Diaz told The Associated Press.

Separately, Papua province military spokesman Lt. Col. Dax Sianturi said an armed group attacked a military post in Mbua village in the same district late Monday, killing a soldier and injuring another.

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