Typhoon lashes Japanese capital, one dead, power, transport disrupted

Passengers are stranded after railways and subway operators suspended their services due to Typhoon Faxai, at Narita airport in Narita, east of Tokyo, Japan September 9, 2019, in this photo taken by Kyodo. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS

By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) – One of the strongest typhoons to hit eastern Japan in recent years struck just east of the capital Tokyo on Monday, killing one woman, with record-breaking winds and stinging rain damaging buildings and disrupting transport.

More than 160 flights were canceled and scores of train lines closed for hours, snarling the morning commute for millions in a greater Tokyo area with a population of some 36 million.

Direct train service between Narita airport and the capital remained severely limited into the evening, with thousands of irritated travelers packed into a key transport hub for both the Rugby World Cup starting later this month and next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

“They simply had no contingency plan…,” one weary traveler who lives in Tokyo said of the scene, in which people crowded the exit areas and food ran out in airport stores.

“They let planes land … and thousands of passengers were disgorged into an airport that was cut off – no buses, no JR trains. The only connection was a private train running every half hour halfway to Tokyo.”

The man, who said he arrived just before 4 p.m. local time and only caught a bus at 7:30 p.m. after standing in line, added: “My wife said: what if this happens during the Olympics?”

Typhoon Faxai, a Lao woman’s name, slammed ashore near the city of Chiba shortly before dawn, bringing with it wind gusts of 207 kmh (128 mph), the strongest ever recorded in Chiba, national broadcaster NHK said.

A woman in her fifties was confirmed dead after she was found in a Tokyo street and taken to hospital. Footage from a nearby security camera showed she had been smashed against a building by strong winds, NHK reported.

Another woman in her 20s was rescued from her house in Ichihara, east of Tokyo, after it was partly crushed when a metal pole from a golf driving range fell on it. She was seriously injured.

A satellite broadcast television receiving antenna, which was blown away by strong winds caused by Typhoon Faxai, is seen on a street in Tokyo, Japan September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato

A satellite broadcast television receiving antenna, which was blown away by strong winds caused by Typhoon Faxai, is seen on a street in Tokyo, Japan September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato

“There was a huge grinding noise, I couldn’t figure out what it was. Then I looked up and saw a big hole in the roof, but I was so keyed up I couldn’t figure out what had happened,” a neighbor said.

Some minor landslides occurred and a bridge was washed away, while as many as 930,000 houses lost power at one point, NHK said, including the entire city of Kamogawa. But the number of homes without power had dropped to 840,000 by early Monday afternoon, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said.

Some concrete electric poles were snapped off at their bases, while electricity towers in Chiba were toppled over. Some panels of a floating solar power plant southeast of Tokyo were on fire.

The Japan Atomic Energy Agency said a cooling tower at its research reactor at Oarai, which has not been in operation since 2006 and is set to be decommissioned, had fallen, but there was no radiation leakage, impact on workers or the surrounding environment.

A Sony Corp <6758.T> spokesman said operations at its plant in Kisarazu, southeast of Tokyo, were suspended due to power outages. The company could not say when the plant, which assembles PlayStation gaming consoles, would reopen.

Two Nissan factories west of Tokyo, including its Oppama plant, suspended operations due to flooding, NHK said.

DESERTED STREETS

About four to five typhoons make landfall in Japan every year, but it is unusual for them to do so near Tokyo. NHK said Faxai was the strongest storm in the Tokyo area in several years.

Streets normally busy with commuters walking or bicycling were deserted, with winds just east of Tokyo shaking buildings.

Metal signs were torn from buildings, trucks overturned, the metal roof of a petrol station torn off and glass display cases destroyed, scattering sidewalks with broken glass.

Trees were uprooted throughout the metropolitan area, some falling on train tracks to further snarl transport.

Some 2,000 people were ordered to leave their homes at one point because of the danger of landslides, NHK said.

Parts of the high-speed Tokaido Shinkansen train line were halted but service resumed after several hours. It took hours for other lines to resume, packing stations with impatient commuters fanning themselves in the humid air.

Temperatures shot up to unseasonably hot levels in the wake of the storm, prompting authorities to warn of the danger of heatstroke.

(Reporting by Elaine Lies, Chris Gallagher, Linda sieg, Kiyoshi Takenaka and Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Robert Birsel/Mark Heinrich)

Floodwaters rise on Charleston’s streets as Hurricane Dorian skirts U.S. coast

Nathan Piper, 11, is swamped by increasingly rough waves while body surfing as Hurricane Dorian approaches, in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, U.S., September 5, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

By Nick Carey and Amanda Becker

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) – Deserted, rain-lashed streets in Charleston, South Carolina, vanished beneath water on Thursday as Hurricane Dorian churned a few dozen miles offshore after reducing parts of the Bahamas to rubble.

Water pooled a few inches deep near the centuries-old waterfront. In certain low-lying blocks, it rose to a foot or more, as high tide approached and forecasters warned of storm surges of up to 8 feet (2 meters).

John Rivers, 74, and his three children were among the few to be seen in the streets on Thursday. They cleared drains of branches, leaves and debris, using a shovel, a rake and their bare hands.

“We’re giving the water somewhere to go,” Rivers said, sheltering temporarily from the driving rain and gusts of wind under a covered walkway. His daughter Caroline, 12, pulled off her rubber boots one at a time, emptying a stream of water from each. “I see this as a good life lesson for my kids,” Rivers said.

Officials said Thursday afternoon that more than 7 inches (18 cm) of rain had fallen in parts of Charleston.

Dorian was about 50 miles (80 kilometers) off Charleston on Thursday, wavering in strength between a Category 2 and 3 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale. It was forecast to possibly make landfall in North Carolina late Thursday or early Friday.

Life-threatening storm surges and dangerous winds were possible in much of the coast of South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, the National Weather Service said.

Dorian whipped up at least three tornados in the region, officials said. One in North Carolina damaged scores of trailers in a campground in Emerald Isle, but no one was injured, North Carolina’s News & Observer reported.

Governors in the region declared states of emergency, closed schools, opened shelters, readied national guard troops and implored residents to take warnings seriously, as fresh images of the devastation wrought by the storm in the Bahamas earlier this week continued to circulate in the media.

At least 70,000 Bahamians needed immediate humanitarian relief after Dorian became the most damaging storm ever to hit the island nation.

In the Carolinas alone, more than 900,000 people had been ordered to evacuate their homes. It was unclear how many did so.

In Kill Devil Hills, in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Mark Jennings decided to ignore the order, lining his garage door with sandbags and boarding up his home with plywood.

The retired firefighter planned to stay put with his wife and two dogs: “We are ready to go. If something happens, we can still get out of here.”

FOUR DEATHS IN THE U.S.

At least four storm-related deaths have already been reported. Three people died in Orange County, Florida, during storm preparations or evacuation, according to the Orange County mayor’s office. In North Carolina, an 85-year-old man fell off a ladder while barricading his home for Dorian, the governor said.

More than 210,000 homes and businesses were without power in South Carolina and Georgia early on Thursday, according to local electric companies.

On Charleston’s historic South Battery Street, which runs down to the harbor, Brys Stephens tried to keep the water away from his stately home, built in the veranda-wrapped Southern style that lures crowds of tourists to the city.

He and his family pumped water out of the yard and tried to reattach metal flood gates into the perimeter wall.

“The gates worked pretty well so far and we’ve managed to keep water away from the house,” Stephens said. “But we’ve got another storm surge coming later on, so we’ll see then if it holds.”

(Reporting by Nick Carey in Charleston, South Carolina, and Amanda Becker in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina; Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen, Peter Szekely, Matt Lavietes and Scott DiSavino in New York; Writing by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Scott Malone and Bernadette Baum)

Hurricane Dorian pounds Bahamas, menaces U.S. southeast coast

Hurricane Dorian is viewed from the International Space Station September 1, 2019 in a still image obtained from a video. NASA/Handout via REUTERS

By Gabriella Borter

Titusville, Fla. (Reuters) – Hurricane Dorian battered the Bahamas on Monday, peeling off roofs and snapping power lines as rising floodwaters threatened to engulf houses, and was expected to edge closer to the U.S. coast, where more than a million people were ordered evacuated.

The second-strongest Atlantic storm on record, now packing maximum sustained winds of 165 miles per hour (270 km/h), was forecast to pound Grand Bahama Island through the day before veering northwest in the next day or so.

The hurricane will move dangerously close to Florida’s east coast tonight through Wednesday evening, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its latest advisory.

There were no immediate estimates of casualties as Dorian, a life-threatening Category 5 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale, covered the northwestern islands of Great Abaco and Grand Bahama with twisted metal and splintered wood. The Bahamas Press reported on Twitter that a 7-year-old boy had drowned in the northern Bahamas, becoming the first recorded fatality of Dorian.

Winds gusting up to 200 mph (320 kph) destroyed or damaged more than 13,000 homes, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said.

Residents posted images online of water rising up the side of their houses. The NHC warned of a possible storm surge that could push destructive waves higher than many roofs in the islands.

As of 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT), Dorian was stalled over the Grand Bahama Island barely drifting westward at 1 mph, according to the NHC, which said a prolonged period of “catastrophic winds and storm surge” would affect the island today.

It was about 120 miles (190 km) from the Florida coast, where residents said they were already experiencing strong winds and high surf.

Palm Beach County, the state’s third most-populated county and home to President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, was among those with partial mandatory evacuations. Other counties announced voluntary evacuations.

“This looks like it could be larger than all of them,” Trump said during a briefing with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Sunday.

EVACUATIONS

Julia Eaddy, 70, in Titusville, about halfway up Florida’s east coast, said she and her husband had ridden out several hurricanes before and were not fazed by the forecast. “I think it will be more of the same,” she said.

Several gasoline stations around Titusville were closed. Many grocery stores were open but boarded up. Inside, shelves emptied out fast.

Farther north, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster ordered mandatory evacuations for parts of eight coastal counties effective at noon on Monday. More than 830,000 people were under evacuation orders in Charleston and other coastal communities in South Carolina, emergency management officials announced.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp ordered evacuations in six coastal counties, including all of Savannah’s 150,000 residents, also effective at noon on Monday, Kemp’s office said on Twitter.

Evacuations ordered in Florida included 14,000 people in St. Augustine. Authorities said they would release more details during the day as the hurricane’s path became clearer.

Dorian was tied with Gilbert (1988), Wilma (2005) and the 1935 Labor Day hurricane for the second-strongest Atlantic hurricane on record, based on maximum sustained winds. Allen in 1980 was the most powerful, with 190 mph (306 kph) winds, the NHC said.

Although Dorian is expected to weaken gradually, forecasters said it likely would remain a powerful hurricane for the next couple of days.

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter in Titusville, Florida; Additional reporting by Peter Szekely in New York, Steve Holland in Washington, Anthony Esposito in Mexico City and Rich McKay in Atlanta; Writing by Paul Simao; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Steve Orlofsky)

Dorian forecast to become highly dangerous Category 4 hurricane

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis talks to the media during a news conference as Hurricane Dorian approaches the state, at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, U.S. August 29, 2019. REUTERS/Marco Bello

(Reuters) – Hurricane Dorian is forecast to strengthen and become a highly dangerous Category 4 hurricane on Sunday, threatening the Atlantic coast of central and south Florida, the National Hurricane Center said on Thursday.

Spurred on by warm Atlantic waters, Dorian is predicted to pack winds reaching 130 mph (209 kph) in 72 hours, the Miami-based forecasting center said.

That would make it a Category 4 storm, the second-strongest type on the Saffir-Simpson scale for measuring hurricane intensity. The center describes Category 4 storms as capable of causing “catastrophic damage” including severe damage to well-built homes. It said in such storms, “Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed.”

Dorian is likely to make landfall on Florida’s eastern coast on Monday, before lingering over central Florida on Tuesday, forecasters at the hurricane center said in an advisory.

Currently a Category 1 hurricane, Dorian took aim at the Bahamas and the Florida coast on Thursday after sideswiping the Caribbean without doing major damage. Dorian is expected to strengthen and slam the Bahamas and the southeastern United States with rain, strong winds and life-threatening surf over the next few days.

U.S. President Donald Trump urged Floridians to heed official warnings. Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency on Wednesday and asked residents along the state’s east coast to stock up with at least seven days worth of supplies such as food and water.

“Hurricane Dorian looks like it will be hitting Florida late Sunday night,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Be prepared and please follow State and Federal instructions, it will be a very big Hurricane, perhaps one of the biggest!”

The U.S. Coast Guard said all pleasure boats at the Port of Key West should seek safe harbor before the Labor Day weekend begins and ocean-going vessels should make plans to leave the port ahead of the storm.

‘EXTREMELY DANGEROUS’

“Dorian is expected to become a major hurricane on Friday, and remain an extremely dangerous hurricane through the weekend,” the hurricane center said, warning of an increasing likelihood of life-threatening storm surge along portions of Florida’s east coast late in the weekend.

The storm was packing maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour (137 km per hour) on Thursday morning some 220 miles (355 km) north-northwest of San Juan, and about 370 miles (600 km) east of the Bahamas, the hurricane center said.

“On this track, Dorian should move over the Atlantic well east of the southeastern and central Bahamas today and on Friday,” forecasters said, “and approach the northwestern Bahamas Saturday.”

The storm could affect big population centers as well as major Florida tourist destinations.

The Universal Orlando Resort theme park, owned by Comcast Corp, said it was following the approaching storm closely.

“We are closely monitoring the weather. At this time our park operations and hours are continuing as normal. We have plans and procedures for serious weather that are time-proven and we will continue to make operating decisions as we learn more,” a theme park representative said in an email.

Dorian is expected to become a major hurricane by Friday afternoon and continue to gain strength until it makes landfall.

Local residents fill their cars with gas after waiting in line ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Dorian in Kissimmee, Florida, U.S. August 29, 2019. REUTERS/Gregg Newton

Local residents fill their cars with gas after waiting in line ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Dorian in Kissimmee, Florida, U.S. August 29, 2019. REUTERS/Gregg Newton

Trump issued an emergency declaration on Wednesday night for the U.S. Virgin Islands, ordering federal assistance with disaster relief for the U.S. territory. On Tuesday, he made a similar declaration for Puerto Rico, and also renewed a feud with island officials over how disaster relief funds from previous hurricanes.

Puerto Rico is still struggling to recover from back-to-back hurricanes in 2017 that killed about 3,000 people soon after the island filed for bankruptcy. On Wednesday, it escaped fresh disaster as Dorian avoided the territory and headed toward Florida.

Preparations were mounting in the Bahamas, which could be hard hit.

Jeffrey Simmons, the country’s acting director of the Department of Meteorology, said severe weather could strike the southeast Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands on Friday.

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter in New York and Rich McKay in Atlanta; Additional reporting by Helen Coster in New York; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Will Dunham)

Puerto Rico closes schools, opens emergency shelters ready for Storm Dorian

A house boat is seen secured to a mangrove as Tropical Storm Dorian approaches Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico August 27, 2019. REUTERS/Ricardo Arduengo

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Puerto Rico was bracing on Wednesday for the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian, closing schools and diverting cruise liners even as it is still struggling to recover from devastating back-to-back hurricanes in 2017.

Those hurricanes killed about 3,000 people just months after the territory filed for bankruptcy to restructure $120 billion of debt and pension obligations.

Having been criticized over the response to the 2017 storms, the White House said in a statement that President Donald Trump had approved an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico late on Tuesday, allowing for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide assistance in coordination with ongoing disaster preparedness efforts.

“We are better prepared than when Hurricane Maria attacked our island,” Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vazquez said during a televised news conference.

Vazquez, who took office this month after political turmoil led to the resignation of his predecessor, said preparations for the storm were more than 90% complete, culminating with the opening of emergency shelters.

Infrastructure ranging from electric power lines to telecommunications and banking networks were in better shape than they had been in 2017, she added.

Dorian, which passed over Barbados on Tuesday, is expected to move near or over Puerto Rico on Wednesday before approaching the island of Hispaniola, which is shared between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, according to the Miami-based National Hurricane Center.

The Dominican Republic also ramped up storm preparations on Tuesday. Juan Manuel Mendez, director of the emergency operations center, said authorities have identified 3,000 buildings that can be converted into shelters, with capacity for up to 800,000 people.

In Puerto Rico, public schools will be closed on Wednesday and public workers have been instructed to stay home, Vazquez said.

Royal Caribbean’s cruise liner “Allure of the Sea” canceled a scheduled visit to the island on Thursday, and Carnival Cruise Line also adjusted its itineraries, Vazquez said.

Carnival Cruise Line confirmed the changes. Royal Caribbean did not immediately respond.

By Wednesday morning, the storm was located about 85 miles (140 km) southeast of St. Croix, in the Bahamas, carrying maximum sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kmh), the NHC said.

Dorian is expected to dump 4 to 8 inches of rain on Florida when it reaches the state in the southeast United States, the NHC said.

(Reporting by Andrew Hay; additional reporting by Ezequiel Abiu Lopez and Alex Dobuzinskis; Writing by Julia Love; Editing by Alison Williams)

Death toll rises to 44 as typhoon Lekima wreaks havoc in eastern China

Firefighters search for survivors in collapsed houses damaged by a landslide after Typhoon Lekima hit Shanzao village in Yongjia county, Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, China August 11, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

BEIJING (Reuters) – The death toll from typhoon Lekima in eastern China rose to 44 people on Monday morning, according to official data, as the storm continued up the coast, racking up billions of dollars in economic losses and widely disrupting travel.

An additional 12 people were recorded dead from the storm, including seven from Zhejiang province and five from Shandong, with 16 people missing, according to data from provincial emergency bureaus and state media.

A wave brought by typhoon Lekima breaks on the shore next to a pedestrian in Qingdao, Shandong province, China August 11, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

A wave brought by typhoon Lekima breaks on the shore next to a pedestrian in Qingdao, Shandong province, China August 11, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

State broadcaster CCTV had put the death toll at 32 on Sunday.

Typhoon Lekima made landfall early on Saturday in China’s Zhejiang province, with winds gusting up to 187 kmh (116 mph). The center of the storm has since traveled north through Shandong and off the coast.

Many of the earlier deaths occurred when a natural dam collapsed in Zhejiang after a deluge of 160 mm (6.2 inches) of rain within three hours.

The Shandong Emergency Management Bureau said more than 180,000 people were evacuated in the province, adding to an earlier evacuation of roughly 1 million people in Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces as well as the financial hub of Shanghai.

The latest update from Shandong brings the total estimated economic toll of the storm to 18 billion yuan ($2.55 billion) in China, including damage to 364,000 hectares of crops and more than 36,000 homes. Shandong alone estimated the total economic impact on agriculture was 939 million yuan.

Qingdao, a popular tourist hub in eastern Shandong, issued a red alert on Sunday, closing all its tourist sites and suspending 127 trains and all long-distance bus services, according to official media.

Lekima is China’s ninth typhoon this year. China’s state broadcaster said on Sunday more than 3,200 flights had been canceled but that some suspensions on high-speed railway lines had been lifted.

The typhoon was expected to weaken as it heads northwest off the coast of Shandong into the ocean east of China’s capital, Beijing.

(Reporting by Cate Cadell; Editing by Paul Tait)

China issues ‘red alert’ as super typhoon approaches mainland

Workers unload seafood from fishing boats before super typhoon Lekima makes landfall in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province, China August 8, 2019. Picture taken August 8, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

SHANGHAI/TAIPEI (Reuters) – China’s weather bureau issued a red alert early on Friday as super typhoon Lekima approached Zhejiang province on the eastern coast, after forcing flight cancellations in Taiwan and shutting markets and businesses on the island.

The National Meteorological Center (NMC) said the typhoon, the strongest since 2014, was expected to hit the mainland in early on Saturday and then turn north. It has issued gale warnings for the Yangtze river delta region, which includes Shanghai.

Taiwan has already cancelled flights and ordered markets and schools to close on Friday as the typhoon heads northwest, cutting power to more than 40,000 homes and forcing the island’s high speed rail to suspend most of its services.

The island’s authorities issued landslide warnings after an earthquake of magnitude 6 struck its northeastern coast on Thursday, hours before the typhoon approached, which was forecasted to bring rainfall of up to 900 mm (35 inches) in its northern mountains.

More than 300 flights to and from Taiwan have been cancelled and cruise liners have been asked to delay their arrival in Shanghai.

Some trains from Shanghai have also suspended ticket sales over the weekend, and Beijing also said it would cancel several trains heading to and from typhoon-hit eastern regions in the Yangtze delta region.

Heavy rain and level-10 gales are expected to hit Shanghai on Friday and continue until Sunday, with 16,000 suburban residents set to be evacuated, the official Shanghai Daily reported.

The NMC warned that 24-hour rainfall levels across eastern China could reach around 250-320 millimetres from Friday afternoon to Saturday afternoon. Port authorities have already been ordered to take action, with ships set to be diverted to Hong Kong to help prevent accidents and collisions.

China’s Ministry of Water Resources has also warned of flood risks in the eastern, downstream sections of the Yangtze and Yellow rivers until Wednesday.

China is routinely hit by typhoons in its hot summer months but weather officials said last week they have been relatively infrequent so far this year.

(Reporting by David Stanway and Yimou Lee; Additional reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Paul Tait and Michael Perry)

As Hurricane Erick heads toward Hawaii, another Pacific hurricane expected to form

Hurricane Erick - NOAA track photograph

(Reuters) – As Hurricane Erick gained strength in the eastern Pacific as it churned toward Hawaii, another weather system, tropical storm Flossie brewing farther east is likely to become a hurricane later on Tuesday, forecasters said.

Tropical Storm Erick grew into a hurricane late on Monday in the eastern Pacific, packing maximum sustained winds of 1115 mph as it churned more than 1,000 miles (1,610 km) from Hawaii’s Big Island.

Erick, the Pacific season’s third hurricane, is rated a Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale and could gain strength in the next two days, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

“A weakening trend is expected to begin later in the week,” it said in an advisory.

The weather system is expected to weaken back into a tropical storm by the time it makes its closest approach to Hawaii and is forecast to skirt south of the Big Island on Friday morning. Forecasts call for a higher chance of gale-force winds from the storm on the Big Island later this week.

Another tropical storm, Flossie, was trailing Erick farther out in the eastern Pacific, packing winds of 65 mph (100 kph) early on Tuesday.

Flossie is expected to become the fourth hurricane of the Pacific this season later in the day, forecasters said. It was about 965 miles (1550 km) southwest of Baja, California, an advisory said, and was slowly headed west.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Rescuers search for survivors after Oklahoma tornado kills at least two

Debris covers the American Best Value Inn after it was destroyed by a tornado which touched down overnight in El Reno, Oklahoma, U.S. May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Alonzo Adams

By Alonzo Adams

EL RENO, Okla. (Reuters) – Rescue workers on Sunday searched for survivors in the rubble left by a tornado that devastated parts of a small community near Oklahoma City, killing two people, injuring more than two dozen and leaving hundreds homeless, officials said.

The tornado that hit El Reno on Saturday night was the latest in a barrage of violent weather that is expected to continue after pounding the Central Plains states last week with deadly tornadoes, high winds, drenching thunderstorms and widespread flooding.

In addition to the two fatalities, 29 people suffered minor to critical injuries in the El Reno twister and hundreds more were displaced, the city’s mayor said.

Emergency personnel search an area of destruction after a tornado touched down overnight in an aerial photo in El Reno, Oklahoma, U.S. May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Richard Rowe

Emergency personnel search an area of destruction after a tornado touched down overnight in an aerial photo in El Reno, Oklahoma, U.S. May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Richard Rowe

“It’s a very trying time for us but we’re going to get through it,” a sometimes emotional Mayor Matt White told reporters on Sunday. “There are several hundred people affected by this. People have absolutely lost everything.”

Rescue workers searched the debris field that had been a mobile home park and an Americas Best Value Inn motor lodge where the tornado did its worst damage in the community about 25 miles (40 km) west of Oklahoma City.

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Norman, Oklahoma, classified the tornado, which cut a 2.2-mile (3.5 km) path, as an EF3, meaning its rotating winds ranged from 136 to 165 miles per hour (219 to 266 km per hour). It initially estimated its strength at 111 to 135 mph (179 to 217 kph).

El Reno was among several areas in Oklahoma and Missouri to be hit with heavy rains and river flooding last week, with local media reporting that first responders had made some two dozen boat rescues.

Forecasters expect a moderate risk of more tornadoes and flooding in the central states on Sunday.

“The ground is pretty saturated so it doesn’t take a whole lot of rain to get some additional flooding,” said NWS meteorologist Mark Chenard at the Weather Prediction Center in College Park.

The weather pattern that has set off violent storms and flooding from the Texas Panhandle north to Iowa will remain in place for at least the next three or four days, he said.

A home on Route 66 is damaged after a tornado touched down overnight in El Reno, Oklahoma, U.S. May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Alonzo Adams

A home on Route 66 is damaged after a tornado touched down overnight in El Reno, Oklahoma, U.S. May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Alonzo Adams

“There could be a brief break but the pattern still looks like it remains favorable for some type of thunderstorm activity across the central part of the country pretty much through the week,” said Chenard.

At least seven people were killed by storms last week.

(Reporting by Alonzo Adams; Additional reporting and writing by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Bill Trott)

Rain grounds Mozambique aid flights as cyclone death toll hits 38

Residents wade through a flooded road in the aftermath of Cyclone Kenneth in Pemba, Mozambique, April 28, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

By Mike Hutchings

PEMBA, Mozambique (Reuters) – Rains grounded aid flights in northern Mozambique for a second day on Monday, hampering efforts to reach survivors of Cyclone Kenneth as the death toll there jumped to 38.

Rescuers managed to use a brief break in the downpours to send one helicopter packed with aid to the island of Ibo, where hundreds of homes were flattened by the second cyclone to hit the country in less than six weeks.

But rains started again and conditions were too dangerous for the next flight to take off, the United Nations said. Roads to rural districts further north were swamped and impassable after torrential rains on Sunday.

Aid workers load food onto a truck as flooding spreads in the aftermath of Cyclone Kenneth in Pemba, Mozambique, April 29, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Aid workers load food onto a truck as flooding spreads in the aftermath of Cyclone Kenneth in Pemba, Mozambique, April 29, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

“Unfortunately the weather conditions are changing too fast and threatening the operation,” said Saviano Abreu, a spokesman for the United Nations’ humanitarian arm OCHA.

Cyclone Kenneth slammed into the Comoros and then Mozambique’s province of Cabo Delgado on Thursday with storm surges and winds of up to 280 kph – stretching resources in a region still recovering from Cyclone Idai which struck further south in March.

The storm knocked out power and communications. Some rural communities were reduced to mounds of jumbled wood, with only the occasional structure and coconut tree left standing.

Four people died in the Comoros, the United Nations said. Mozambique’s National Institute of Disaster Management said its death toll stood at 38 on Monday – up from an earlier estimate of five – and just over 168,000 people had been affected.

After the first hit, heavy rains pounded Mozambique’s north, an area prone to floods and landslides. Information about the scale of the flooding in more remote districts remains scant.

In the port city of Pemba at least, waters had started to recede, OCHA’s Abreu said. Water was still waist-deep in some neighborhoods. One man ferried residents in a wooden boat. Others just waded through the deluge, some carrying belongings on their heads.

The aftermath of Cyclone Kenneth is seen in Macomia District, Cabo Delgado province, Mozambique April 27, 2019 in this picture obtained from social media on April 28, 2019. OCHA/Saviano Abreu/via REUTERS

The aftermath of Cyclone Kenneth is seen in Macomia District, Cabo Delgado province, Mozambique April 27, 2019 in this picture obtained from social media on April 28, 2019. OCHA/Saviano Abreu/via REUTERS

Idai destroyed the port city of Beira and submerged entire villages, vast swathes of land and 700,000 hectares of crops. It killed more than 1,000 people across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.

Forecasters have said Kenneth could drop twice as much rain as Idai on Mozambique’s north. Authorities urged people living near rivers to move to higher ground over the weekend.

The United Nations said it had released $13 million in emergency funds for Mozambique and the Comoros to provide food and water and repair infrastructure.

(Additional reporting by Emma Rumney and Mfuneko Toyana in Johannesburg; Writing by Emma Rumney; Editing by Toby Chopra and Andrew Heavens)