Colorado prosecutors set to charge man for murdering family

FILE PHOTO - Chrisopher Watts, 33, arrested on suspicion of murdering his pregnant wife and two young daughters, in Frederick, Colorado, U.S., is shown in this handout photo provided August 16, 2018. Weld County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) – Colorado prosecutors said they plan to formally file murder charges on Monday against a man accused of killing his pregnant wife and their two young daughters, days after he told police they went missing and pleaded on TV for their safe return.

Christopher Watts, 33, has been held without bond in the Weld County jail since his arrest last week for the murders of his pregnant wife Shanann Watts, 34 and two daughters, Celeste, 3, and Bella, 4.

Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke will formally file charges against Watts on Monday and seek the release of an arrest affidavit, which has been under seal, that lays out details of the crime, his spokeswoman Krista Henery said in a telephone interview.

Shannan Watts and the children were reported missing on Tuesday from their home in Frederick, about 30 miles (50 km) north of Denver.

Watts said in an interview with Denver 7 on Tuesday that he was torn up inside about his family going missing and pleaded for their return.

“I just want them to come back,” Watts told TV station Denver 7. “My kids are my life. Those smiles light up my life. I want everybody to just come home.”

The next day he was arrested.

On Thursday authorities said they had discovered the bodies of his wife and daughters on a property owned by Anadarko Petroleum Corp., where Watts worked.

Neither Watts, nor his court-appointed attorney, have commented on the incident since his arrest.

Authorities have not confirmed local media reports that Watts confessed to killing his family, and that he strangled the two girls and stuffed their bodies inside oil barrels.

The case has drawn national media attention to the town of Frederick, a former mining town of 13,000.

Standing outside the Rock Solid Saloon in downtown Frederick, David Huston shook his head in disbelief at the murders.

“I just can’t imagine what circumstances would cause somebody to get to that point,” said the 35-year-old maintenance worker at a manufacturing plant, and the father of two.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Jon Herskovitz)

Yemen buries children killed by air strike, Riyadh insists raid ‘legitimate’

Boys demonstrate outside the offices of the United Nations in Sanaa, Yemen to denounce last weeks air strike that killed dozens including children in the northwestern province of Saada, August 13, 2018. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

SAADA, Yemen (Reuters) – Thousands of mourners on Monday buried dozens of children killed in a Saudi-led coalition air strike on a bus in northern Yemen, one of the deadliest attacks on civilians in the three-year-old war.

At least 40 children were killed in Thursday’s raid which hit the bus as it drove through a market of Dahyan, a town in Saada, the armed Houthi group which controls the province said.

Amid outrage from international human rights groups and U.N. officials, Riyadh continued to defend the raid as a “legitimate military action” intended to hit Houthi leaders, a day after it authorized a coalition investigation of the strike.

Wooden coffins, most with a picture of a child, were taken by cars and carried by pallbearers to a graveyard from a square where prayers were held earlier. “Death to America, death to Israel,” the crowd chanted, echoing the Houthis’ slogan.

The shrouded bodies were removed from the coffins and placed in a row of unmarked graves that had been dug on Friday.

“My son went to the market to run house errands and then the enemy air strike happened and he was hit by shrapnel and died,” said Fares al-Razhi, mourning his 14-year-old son.

“For my son, I will take revenge on Salman and Mohammed Bin Zayed,” he said, referring to leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The Gulf Arab states are leading the alliance of Sunni Muslim countries that intervened in Yemen’s war in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognized government that was expelled from the capital Sanaa by the Houthis in 2014.

The coalition said on Friday it would investigate the strike after U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the attack and called for an independent probe.

But on Saturday, state news agency SPA said Riyadh’s mission to the world body delivered a message to Guterres reiterating that the raid was “legitimate” and targeted Houthi leaders “responsible for recruiting and training young children”.

“War can’t be a clean operation, unfortunately,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash told reporters in Dubai when asked about the Saada attack. “But I will say all parties need to accept their part in what they are doing today.”

Mourners attend the funeral of people, mainly children, killed in a Saudi-led coalition air strike on a bus in northern Yemen, in Saada, Yemen August 13, 2018. REUTERS/Naif Rahma

Mourners attend the funeral of people, mainly children, killed in a Saudi-led coalition air strike on a bus in northern Yemen, in Saada, Yemen August 13, 2018. REUTERS/Naif Rahma

TALKS PLANNED

The coalition initially said after the attack that the strike had targeted missile launchers that were used by the Houthis to attack the southern Saudi province of Jizan.

The Houthis’ health minister Taha Mutawakil said last week that the number of casualties stood at 51 killed including 40 children, and at least 79 people wounded, of which 56 were children. The International Committee of the Red Cross reported the same toll on Friday, citing authorities in Saada.

The Houthi-run al-Masirah TV on Monday quoted a health official as saying another child had died from his wounds, raising the toll to 52.

The head of the Houthis’ supreme revolutionary committee, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, attended the funeral and blamed the United States for “this ugly massacre of Yemeni children”.

The United States and other Western powers provide arms and intelligence to the alliance, and human rights groups have criticized them over coalition air strikes that have killed hundreds of civilians at hospitals, schools and markets.

A U.S. military spokeswoman said U.S. forces were not involved in Thursday’s air strike. The U.S. State Department urged the alliance to “conduct a thorough and transparent investigation”.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Sunday he has dispatched a three-star general to Riyadh to “look into what happened”.

The coalition says it does not intentionally target civilians and has set up a committee to probe alleged mass casualty air strikes, which has mostly cleared it of any blame.

The Houthis have also been criticized by rights groups.

The U.N. special envoy to Yemen has been shuttling between the warring parties ahead of holding consultations in Geneva on Sept. 6 to try to end the conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people and pushed the impoverished Arab country to the verge of starvation, according to the United Nations.

The UAE’s Gargash said he hoped the Geneva talks signaled the start of a process that would lead to a political solution to the conflict — which is widely seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and regional foe Shi’ite Muslim Iran.

(Reporting by Reuters team in Yemen, Maha El Dahan in Dubai and Yara Bayoumy in Washington; Writing by Ghaida Ghantous, Editing by Alison Williams, William Maclean)

‘Horrors that can’t be told’: Afghan women report Islamic State rapes

FILE PHOTO: An Islamic State flag is seen in this picture illustration. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

By Abdul Matin Sahak

SHEBERGHAN, Afghanistan (Reuters) – A mother of three from a remote area of northwestern Afghanistan remembers the day the head of a local Islamic State group came to her village, demanding money he said her husband had promised.

“I told him we didn’t have any money but that if we found any we would send it to him. But he didn’t accept that and said I had to be married to one of his people and leave my husband and go with them,” Zarifa said.

“When I refused, the people he had with him took my children to another room and he took a gun and said if I didn’t go with him he would kill me and take my house. And he did everything he could to me.”

Even by the bloody standards of the Afghan war, Islamic State has gained an unmatched reputation for brutality, routinely beheading opponents or forcing them to sit on explosives.

But while forced marriages and rape have been among the most notable features of Islamic State rule in Iraq and Syria they have been much less widely reported in Afghanistan.

While there have been reports in Nangarhar, the eastern province where Islamic State first appeared in 2014 and in Zabul in the south, deep taboos that can make it impossible for women to report sexual abuse make it hard to know its scale.

The group has a growing presence in Zarifa’s province of Jawzjan, on the border with Turkmenistan, exploiting smuggling routes and attracting both foreign fighters as well as unemployed locals and fighting both U.S.-backed Afghan forces and the Taliban.

For Zarifa, the attack forced her to leave her home in the Darzab district of south Jawzjan and seek shelter in the provincial capital of Sheberghan.

“My husband was a farmer and now I can’t face my husband and my neighbors and so, despite the danger, I left,” she said.

TEN MONTHS OF TERROR

Another woman, Samira, who escaped Darzab and now lives in Sheberghan, said fighters came to her house and took her 14 year-old sister to their commander. Like Zarifa, she did not want to use her full name because of the stigma against victims of sexual violence.

“He didn’t marry her and no one else married her but he raped her and his soldiers forced themselves on her and even the head of the village who is in Daesh forced himself on my sister and raped her,” she said. Daesh is an Arabic term for Islamic State.

“This girl was there with Daesh for 10 months but after 10 months she escaped and now she’s with us. But I can’t tell anyone about this out of shame.”

Stories like those told by Samira and Zarifa have emerged in recent months as thousands have fled Darzab.

“Daesh has committed many horrors in Darzab that can’t be told,” said the Taliban’s main spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid.

“Daesh does not abide by any rules and there is no doubt about the horrors people have been speaking about.”

Islamic State has no known spokesman in Afghanistan. But the accounts were broadly endorsed by government officials who say Islamic State is trying to import an entirely foreign ideology.

Documents captured in Syria in 2015 revealed ways in which Islamic State theologians regulated the use of female captives for sexual purposes.

“It is completely against our culture and traditions,” said Mohammad Radmanish, a defense ministry spokesman, who said that Darzab was not the only area where rapes and sexual slavery by Islamic State had been reported.

“When they came to our area, everyone knew what these Daesh had come for,” said Kamila, a woman from Darzab, who said that three girls were taken from the area where she lived.

“They would bind a girl or woman from a house and take her with them. At first they said that we would have to marry them. But then, when they took them, many men forced themselves on them and raped them.”

(Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Firefighters gain on massive California wildfire, six dead

Fire fighters battle the Carr Fire west of Redding. REUTERS/Bob Strong

REDDING, Calif. (Reuters) – California firefighters on Monday were gaining ground on a massive blaze that has killed six people and destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses, while rescuers searched for seven people unaccounted for in the wildfire.

The Carr Fire, outside Redding, California, ignited a week ago and doubled in size over the weekend, charring an area the size of Detroit, forcing 38,000 people to flee their homes and claiming lives of two firefighters and another person, as well as a woman and her two young great-grandchildren.

Centered 150 miles (240 km) north of Sacramento, it is the deadliest of the 90 wildfires burning across the United States. Collectively, wildfires have blackened 4.4 million acres (1.8 million hectares) of land so far this year, 21 percent more than the 10-year average for the time period, according to federal data.

A burned out home in the small community of Keswick is shown from wildfire damage near Redding. REUTERS/Alexandria Sage

A burned out home in the small community of Keswick is shown from wildfire damage near Redding. REUTERS/Alexandria Sage

The more than 3,000 firefighters battling the Carr Fire began to turn the tables by Sunday afternoon, cutting containment lines around 17 percent of its perimeter, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Previously the fire was just 5 percent contained.

Gale-force winds that drove the fire late last week have eased to moderate speeds, but temperatures are again expected to top 100 Fahrenheit (37.8 Celsius), according to the National Weather Service.

Firefighting officials on Sunday also said they would begin to return people to their homes as soon as possible.

The fire grew rapidly beginning on Thursday, confounding fire officials with the speed of its movement.

“Unfortunately this new normal is kind of upon us in California,” Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jonathan Cox said on CBS This Morning. “More deadly, more destructive fires, more often and it’s obviously requiring additional resources.”

Hills are bare after being burned in the Carr Fire near Igo, California, U.S. July 29, 2018. REUTERS/Bob Strong

Hills are bare after being burned in the Carr Fire near Igo, California, U.S. July 29, 2018. REUTERS/Bob Strong

At least 874 buildings have been destroyed by the 95,000-acre blaze, Cal Fire said. The fire leveled the town of Keswick, home to 450 people. It also sparked an effort to rescue people’s horses and livestock in the rugged region, a popular fishing destination.

Some 260 National Guard troops and 100 police officers were stationed in evacuated neighborhoods to guard against looting, and the Shasta County Sheriff’s office said two people had been arrested over the weekend for looting.

Another California fire prompted a rare closure of much of Yosemite National Park last week, while a third forced mass evacuations from the mountain resort community of Idyllwild, east of Los Angeles.

(Reporting by Bob Strong, additional reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York, writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

U.S. says 463 illegal immigrant parents may have been deported without kids

Security officers keep watch over a tent encampment housing immigrant children just north of the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Mike

By Tom Hals and Reade Levinson

(Reuters) – More than 450 immigrant parents who were separated from their children when they entered the United States illegally are no longer in the country though their children remain behind, according to a joint court filing on Monday by the federal government and the American Civil Liberties Union.

The absence of the 463 parents, which U.S. government lawyers said was “under review,” could impede government efforts to reunite separated families by Thursday, the deadline ordered by a federal judge. The filing did not say why the 463 parents had left the country, but government officials previously acknowledged that some parents had been deported without their children.

As of Monday, 879 parents had been reunited with their children, according to the filing.

About 2,500 children were separated from their parents after the Trump administration announced a “zero tolerance” policy in April aimed at discouraging illegal immigration. The policy was ended in June amid an international outcry about the government’s treatment of immigrant children.

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego ordered last month that the government had to reunite the children with their parents in a case brought by the ACLU.

On Monday, the government also said 917 parents were either not eligible to be reunited or not yet known to be eligible to be reunited with their child. That number includes parents no longer in the country as well as those deemed unsuitable because of criminal convictions or for other reasons.

Immigration advocates have expressed alarm about parents deported without their children, saying it can create problems with the children’s immigration cases.

“How can we go forward on a case if we don’t know the parent’s wishes?” Megan McKenna, spokeswoman for Kids in Need of Defense, told Reuters earlier this month.

While Monday’s report indicated progress with reunifications, the ACLU made clear its frustrations with the process. The rights group said it did not have a list of parents who signed a form electing to be deported without their child.

“These parents urgently need consultations with lawyers, so that they do not mistakenly strand their children in the United States,” the ACLU wrote in the court filing.

The ACLU asked Sabraw to order the government to turn the information over by the end of Tuesday.

The government said it had cleared an additional 538 parents for reunification pending transport.

(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware, and Reade Levinson in New York; Editing by Sue Horton and Leslie Adler)

At Texas border, joy and chaos as U.S. reunites immigrant families

Undocumented immigrants recently released from detention prepare to depart a bus depot for cities around the country in McAllen, Texas, U.S., July 18, 2018. Picture taken July 18, 2018. REUTERS/Loren Elli

By Yeganeh Torbati and Loren Elliott

LOS FRESNOS, Texas (Reuters) – Luis Campos, a Dallas attorney, showed up at a Texas immigrant detention facility close to the U.S.-Mexico border on Wednesday morning expecting to represent a client before an immigration judge.

But his client – a mother who had been separated from her child by immigration authorities after they crossed the border illegally – was not at the Port Isabel Detention Center. For more than a day, Campos was unable to determine whether she had been released and whether she had been reunited with her child.

Campos did not fare much better with his other appointments. Of the five other clients he had been scheduled to meet with that day, four were no longer at Port Isabel, and it was unclear if they had been released or transferred to other facilities.

“We don’t know what their status is except they’re no longer in the system,” Campos said. “We don’t know where people are right now and it’s been a struggle to get information.”

Lawyers and immigrant advocates working in south Texas this week reported widespread disarray as the federal government scrambled to meet a court-imposed deadline of July 26 for reunifying families separated by immigration officials under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” measures.

Half a dozen lawyers Reuters spoke to described struggles to learn of reunification plans in advance and difficulty tracking down clients who were suddenly released or transferred to family detention centers run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The lawyers said it was often difficult to get through by telephone and that when they did the government employees often knew little about their clients’ status or location.

ICE officials did not respond to questions about the reunification process in Texas and elsewhere.

A government court filing on Thursday said that 364 reunifications had taken place so far. It was unclear from the document, filed as part of an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit challenging parent-child separations at the border, exactly how many more were likely.

Of more than 2,500 parents identified as potentially eligible to be reunited with their children, 848 have been interviewed and cleared for reunification, government attorneys told the court. Another 91 have been deemed ineligible because of criminal records or for other reasons.

Undocumented immigrants recently released from detention prepare to depart a bus depot for cities around the country in McAllen, Texas, U.S., July 18, 2018. Picture taken July 18, 2018. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

Undocumented immigrants recently released from detention prepare to depart a bus depot for cities around the country in McAllen, Texas, U.S., July 18, 2018. Picture taken July 18, 2018. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

BUSY SHELTERS

Evidence of the reunification efforts can be found throughout the Rio Grande Valley area, a border region that covers the southern tip of Texas and includes small towns like Los Fresnos.

Children arrive in vans at the Port Isabel Detention Center near Los Fresnos late into the night, lawyers said.

A sprawling church site in San Juan, around 60 miles (97 km) away, was designated as a migrant shelter after it became clear that a large number of reunited families would be released from Port Isabel.

The shelter has been housing between 200 and 300 adults and children on any given night this week, according to migrants who spent time there.

The same court order that required separated families to be reunited also ordered the government to stop separating new arrivals at the border and some families who have crossed in recent weeks have been detained together.

But ICE has limited facilities to house parents and children together, and strict rules apply regarding how long and under what circumstances it can keep children locked up.

Claudia Franco, waiting to board a bus at a terminal in McAllen, near San Juan, said she and her daughter traveled from Guatemala and were apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol after entering the United States last week. The pair were released from custody a few days later, and Franco was given an ankle monitor during her legal fight to remain in the country.

President Donald Trump has called for an end to such swift releases, which he refers to as “catch-and-release.”

‘WILD WEST LAWYERING’

Having attorneys can make a crucial difference for Central American migrants trying to negotiate the complexities of the legal system.

Angela, a Honduran woman who declined to give her surname, had initially been found not to have a “credible fear” of returning to Honduras, something that must be established as the first step in an asylum claim.

On Monday, she appeared in immigration court with attorney Eileen Blessinger. The judge reversed that initial finding. The next day, Angela was reunited with her daughter after more than a month apart and the two will seek asylum in the Indianapolis area, she said in a phone interview from a shelter.

Lawyers said that other clients will be deprived of representation in court because of the chaotic reunification and release process.

“It’s all totally like Wild West lawyering,” said Shana Tabak, an attorney with the Tahirih Justice Center, which provides legal services to migrants. “The government is moving really quickly, without a lot of advance planning it seems.”

One urgent priority, said Tabak, was making sure immigrants who leave the area change the location of their impending proceedings to a court near their eventual destination.

But that can be difficult. On Wednesday afternoon, Campos and a colleague met with a migrant client at a shelter, and just by chance, he ran into a Honduran woman who he had met with earlier this month at Port Isabel. Unbeknownst to him, she had been released and was now with her young son. They quickly exchanged a few words.

“They were just bouncing with joy,” he said. “We agreed to talk later that day and then I couldn’t find her after that.”

(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati and Loren Elliott, editing by Sue Horton and Rosalba O’Brien)

Thirteen dead as Missouri storm sinks ‘duck boat’

Rescue personnel work after an amphibious "duck boat" capsized and sank, at Table Rock Lake near Branson, Stone County, Missouri, U.S. July 19, 2018 in this still image obtained from a video on social media. SOUTHERN STONE COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT/Facebook/via REUTERS

By Brendan O’Brien and Andrew Hay

(Reuters) – At least 13 people including children drowned after a tourist “duck boat” sank during a storm on a lake in Missouri, and authorities were set to resume a search on Friday for other missing victims, Missouri Governor Michael Parson said.

The sinking of vehicle, inspired by the amphibious landing craft used during D-Day in World War Two, marked one of the deadliest incidents at a U.S. tourist destination in recent history. Divers were still searching Table Rock Lake, a large reservoir outside the town of Branson, for missing passengers.

Rescue personnel are seen after an amphibious "duck boat" capsized and sank, at Table Rock Lake near Branson, Stone County, Missouri, U.S. July 19, 2018 in this still image obtained from a video on social media. SOUTHERN STONE COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT/Facebook/via REUTERS

Rescue personnel are seen after an amphibious “duck boat” capsized and sank, at Table Rock Lake near Branson, Stone County, Missouri, U.S. July 19, 2018 in this still image obtained from a video on social media. SOUTHERN STONE COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT/Facebook/via REUTERS

Video of the incident showed the hull of the vessel submerging into choppy waters.

“Just a terrible, horrific tragic accident has occurred,” Parson told CNN on Friday, noting that 13 people had been confirmed dead. “The rescue’s still ongoing.”

Seven victims, including two who were critically injured, were being treated at the Cox Medical Center in Branson, the hospital said on Twitter.

Emergency crews responded to the incident shortly after 7 p.m. (0000 GMT) on Thursday after thunderstorms rolled through the area, the fire district said on Twitter.

“There was some heavy wind. It was having problems through the wind,” Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader told reporters at a news conference late on Thursday. “They were coming back toward land. There was actually two ducks. The first one made it out. The second one didn’t.”

Rader told reporters at that time, when the confirmed death toll was 11 people, that five individuals remained missing. His office on Friday referred questions about the incident including the number of people unaccounted for to Ripley Entertainment Inc, which owns the duck tour business. A Ripley representative could not be reached for immediate comment on Friday.

National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Linderberg told the Springfield News-Leader newspaper that winds reaching 63 miles (101 km) per hour were recorded at the Branson airport near the time of the incident.

“We had a line of very strong thunderstorms that caused 74 mph winds here in Springfield,” he told the newspaper, noting that winds were likely stronger on the lake.

Video footage shot by a witness on shore showed strong waves tossing two duck boats side to side. The video clip was posted online by KY3.

Life jackets were on board the boat, Rader said.

The National Transportation Safety Board was sending investigators to the scene on Friday, the agency said on Twitter.

“Our number one priority is the families and our employees that were affected by this tragic accident,” Suzanne Smagala-Potts, a spokeswoman for Ripley Entertainment, said on Thursday.

She could not confirm how many crew members were aboard the boat.

Duck vehicles, used on sightseeing tours around the world, have been involved in a number of fatal accidents on land and in the water in the past two decades.

The company that builds ducks, Ride the Ducks International LLC, agreed in 2016 to pay a $1 million fine after one of the vehicles, which operate on land as well as water, collided with a bus in Seattle, killing five international students.

The company admitted to failing to comply with U.S. vehicle manufacturing rules.

Two tourists died in Philadelphia in 2010 when the duck boat they were riding in was struck by a tugboat in the Delaware River.

Branson, in southwestern Missouri, is a family-friendly tourist destination whose attractions include “Dolly Parton’s Stampede,” a horse show and a Titanic museum with a model of the sunken vessel’s front half.

(Reporting by Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee, additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg and Gina Cherelus in New York, Writing by Scott Malone; Editing Bernadette Baum and Steve Orlofsky)

U.S. court order ‘buys time’ for separated immigrant families: lawyers

FILE PHOTO: Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas. REUTERS/Mike Blake

By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Lawyers for immigrant families separated by the U.S. government at the border with Mexico said a federal judge’s order barring rapid deportations until at least next Tuesday would give them breathing room as they struggled for access to clients.

The families had been separated amid a broader crackdown on illegal immigration by President Donald Trump’s administration, sparking an international outcry and a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The president ordered that the practice be halted on June 20.

Judge Dana Sabraw, in Monday’s order, sided with the ACLU, which argued that parents facing imminent deportation should have a week to decide if they want to leave their children in the United States to pursue asylum separately.

Sabraw asked the government to respond before the next hearing on July 24. Until then, he halted rapid deportations.

The judge’s order gave lawyers more time to “figure out what reunification is going to mean for our clients,” said Beth Krause, a supervising lawyer at the New York-based Legal Aid Society’s Immigrant Youth Project.

In a related ruling in a separate case on Tuesday, the Legal Aid Society won a temporary court order barring the government from moving any of the dozens of separated migrant children the group represents in New York without at least 48 hours’ notice.

The order also required the government to say ahead if children were being moved so that they could be released, detained with their families, or deported.

Legal Aid had asked for an emergency injunction, arguing that the government was swiftly moving children and parents without giving them time to speak to lawyers about the possible legal consequences, including removal from the country.

At least two of its young clients had been due to be moved to a detention center in Texas that was not licensed to care for children, the group said, and other children were due to be moved to undisclosed locations.

“This information is crucial for our clients – many young children who already suffered enough trauma – to make informed decisions about pursuing asylum or other forms of relief,” Adrienne Holder, the lead lawyer at Legal Aid’s civil practice, said in a statement.

U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain in Manhattan said the order expired on Thursday unless extended or modified by another judge, and that it applied only to Legal Aid’s clients and not to all separated children.

A hearing in the Manhattan case has been scheduled for Tuesday afternoon before U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman.

Jorge Baron, executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, said Judge Sabraw’s broader ban on rapid deportations “buys us a little bit of time.”

“I am still uncertain we have made contact with all the parents who are detained in our particular region,” he said.

Baron’s group has secured legal representation for several dozen separated parents sent to government detention centers in Washington state. But even on Monday, he said, he learned of an immigrant mother who had yet to make contact with a lawyer.

“She might have slipped through the cracks,” without the judge’s order, Baron said.

Last month, Sabraw set a July 26 deadline for the government to reunite children who were separated from their parents at the border with Mexico. Many of the immigrants are fleeing violence in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Rosalba O’Brien)

Judge to weigh new rules as U.S. works to reunite migrant families

Children are escorted to the Cayuga Center, which provides foster care and other services to immigrant children separated from their families, in New York City, U.S., July 10, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

By Tom Hals

(Reuters) – A federal judge on Friday will consider imposing tougher rules on the U.S. government to ensure it reunites as many as 2,000 immigrant children with their parents by July 26.

In a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, U.S. Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego ordered the government in June to reunite families that had been separated after crossing the U.S.-Mexican border. The government failed to meet a Tuesday deadline for reuniting an initial group of children under 5.

About 46 of the 103 children remain separated because of safety concerns, the deportation of their parents and other issues, according to court documents.

The government has said its efforts to reunite families were slowed by the need to conduct DNA testing and criminal background checks on parents and determine if they would provide a safe environment for the child.

That has raised questions how the government will manage with the vastly larger number of children it still must reunite, a task the judge has called a “significant undertaking.”

Late Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the lawsuit that led to Sabraw’s order, said it wanted the judge to impose timelines on the government for background checks and to share information sooner in the process.

The rights group said that a lack of information about where and when reunions would happen had led to potential dangers for families. In one case, the ACLU said, immigration officials reunited a mother with her 6-month-old daughter then dropped them alone at bus stop late at night.

Sabraw will consider imposing those requirements on the government at a hearing on Friday at 1 p.m. PDT (2000 GMT) in San Diego.

The government adopted its family separation policy as part of a broader effort to discourage illegal immigration earlier this year. The Trump administration buckled to intense political pressure and abandoned the policy in June.

(Reporting by Tom Hals; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Guatemala’s Fuego volcano eruption kills 25, injures hundreds

A rescue worker carries a child covered with ash after Fuego volcano erupted violently in El Rodeo, Guatemala June 3, 2018. REUTERS/Fabricio Alonzo

By Sofia Menchu

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) – An estimated 25 people, including at least three children, were killed and nearly 300 injured on Sunday in the most violent eruption of Guatemala’s Fuego volcano in more than four decades, officials said.

Volcan de Fuego, whose name means “Volcano of Fire”, spewed an 8-kilometer (5-mile) stream of red hot lava and belched a thick plume of black smoke and ash that rained onto the capital and other regions.

Fuego volcano is seen after a violent eruption, in San Juan Alotenango, Guatemala June 3, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria

Fuego volcano is seen after a violent eruption, in San Juan Alotenango, Guatemala June 3, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria

The charred bodies of victims laid on the steaming, ashen remnants of a pyroclastic flow as rescuers attended to badly injured victims in the aftermath of the eruption.

It was the 3,763-meter (12,346-feet) volcano’s second eruption this year.

“It’s a river of lava that overflowed its banks and affected the El Rodeo village. There are injured, burned and dead people,” Sergio Cabanas, the general secretary of Guatemala’s CONRED national disaster management agency, said on radio.

CONRED said the number of dead had risen to 25, from an earlier estimate of seven, including a CONRED employee. Some 3,100 people have been evacuated from the area.

Officials said the dead were so far all concentrated in three towns: El Rodeo, Alotenango and San Miguel los Lotes.

Rescue operations were suspended until 5:00 A.M. (1100 GMT) due to dangerous conditions and inclement weather, said Cecilio Chacaj, a spokesman for the municipal firefighters department.

Women react inside a shelter after Fuego volcano erupted violently in San Juan Alotenango, Guatemala June 3, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria

Women react inside a shelter after Fuego volcano erupted violently in San Juan Alotenango, Guatemala June 3, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria

Dozens of videos appeared on social media and Guatemalan TV showing the extent of the devastation.

One video published by news outlet Telediario, purportedly taken in the El Rodeo village, showed three bodies strewn atop the remnants of the flow as rescuers arrived to attend to an elderly man caked from head to toe in ash and mud.

“Unfortunately El Rodeo was buried and we haven’t been able to reach the La Libertad village because of the lava and maybe there are people that died there too,” said CONRED’s Cabanas.

“I THINK THEY WERE BURIED’

In another video, a visibly exhausted woman, her face blackened from ash, said she had narrowly escaped as lava poured through corn fields.

“Not everyone escaped, I think they were buried,” Consuelo Hernandez told news outlet Diario de Centroamerica.

Steaming lava flowed down the streets of a village as emergency crews entered homes in search of trapped residents, another video on a different media outlet showed.

President Jimmy Morales said he had convened his ministers and was considering declaring a state of emergency in the departments of Chimaltenango, Escuintla and Sacatepequez.

The eruption forced Guatemala City’s La Aurora international airport to shut down its only runway due to the presence of volcanic ash and to guarantee passenger and aircraft safety, Guatemala’s civil aviation authority said on Twitter.

Police officers wearing face masks guard the area after Fuego volcano erupted violently in El Rodeo, Guatemala June 3, 2018. REUTERS/Fabricio Alonzo

Police officers wearing face masks guard the area after Fuego volcano erupted violently in El Rodeo, Guatemala June 3, 2018. REUTERS/Fabricio Alonzo

The volcano is some 25 miles (40 km) southwest of the capital, Guatemala City, and is close to the colonial city of Antigua, which is popular with tourists and is known for its coffee plantations.

Workers and guests were evacuated from La Reunion golf club near Antigua as a black cloud of ash rose from just beyond the club’s limits. The lava river was running on the other side of the volcano.

Officials said the volcanic eruption still presented a danger and could cause more mud and pyroclastic flows.

“Temperatures in the pyroclastic flow can exceed 700 degrees (Celsius) and volcanic ash can rain down on a 15-km (9-mile) radius. That could cause more mud flows and nearby rivers to burst their banks,” said Eddy Sanchez, director of Guatemala’s seismological, volcanic and meteorological institute.

The huge plumes of smoke that could be seen from various parts of the country and the ash that fell in four of Guatemala’s departments caused alarm among residents.

David de Leon, a CONRED spokesman, said a change in wind was to blame for the volcanic ash falling on parts of the capital.

(Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Sandra Maler and Paul Tait)