Pakistani train smashes into derailed carriages, 36 killed

By Asif Shahzad and Gibran Naiyyar Peshimam

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) -A train in Pakistan smashed into derailed carriages of another train on Monday, killing at least 36 people, authorities said, the latest accident to highlight the decrepit state of a railway system that dates to the 19th century.

Several passengers were still trapped in mangled coaches strewn across the tracks in the southern province of Sindh, according to railway officials.

Police officer Umar Tufail said at least 36 people were killed and his men could see four more bodies in the wreckage.

“We have not been able to take them out so far, but an operation is underway for that,” he told reporters at the site. “We have saved three more people; they are injured.”

More than 70 passengers were admitted to various hospitals, another police officer Kamran Fazal told Reuters.

An injured passenger, who had been travelling on the train that derailed, recounted how one calamity led to another.

“We felt as if we had been thrown away,” the man, who had a bandaged head, told a television reporter from hospital, speaking of the initial derailing of his train.

“The second train then hit our train (and) that caused more damage,” he said, adding most of the passengers were sleeping at the time in the pre-dawn hours.

A Pakistan Railways spokesman said several carriages of the first train spilled across the adjacent track after the derailment in the Ghotki district. Within minutes, the second train, coming from the other direction, smashed into them.

“The driver tried to apply emergency brakes but the locomotive hit the infringing coaches,” Pakistan Railways said in an initial report.

“The track has got issues on several points, the coaches are old, some as old as 40 years,” railway official Tariq Latif told Geo News TV. “I’ve told high-ups several times: ‘Please do something about it’,” he said.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Twitter he was shocked by the “horrific” accident and was ordering a comprehensive investigation into railway safety.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry blamed the crash on what he said was corruption by previous government, saying the exact cause of the accident was yet to be known, and an inquiry had been opened.

The two trains were carrying a total of 1,388 passengers, he told parliament in a speech telecast live.

Accidents on the decaying rail system are common.

In 2005, in the same district, about 130 people were killed when a crowded passenger train rammed into another at a station and a third train struck the wreckage.

Successive governments have for years been trying to secure funds to upgrade the system from a planned laying of a new rail track called ML-1 as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative of energy and infrastructure projects.

Due to certain technical issues the ML-1 project has yet to get under way despite final approval late last year, said Pakistan Railways Chairman Habib-ur-Rehman Gilani.

Certain technical issues have held up the launch of the ML-1 project despite final approval late last year, said Pakistan Railways Chairman Habib-ur-Rehman Gilani.

He told Geo News TV that any spending now to upgrade the track where the crash occurred would be a waste of resources.

“I would say that until we get a permanent solution (ML-1), this track can’t be foolproof,” Gilani said.

(Reporting by Asif Shahzad and Gibran Peshimam in Islamabad, Mubasher Bukhari in Lahore and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru, India; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Mark Heinrich)

COVID and conflict: Gaza’s hospitals strained on two fronts

By Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA (Reuters) – Gaza’s hospitals were already struggling to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic before the conflict with Israel erupted last week. Now, medics say, they are being stretched further.

“The Ministry of Health is fighting on two fronts in the Gaza Strip – the coronavirus front and the other front, which is more difficult, is the injuries and the wounded,” said Marwan Abu Sada, the director of surgery in Gaza’s main Shifa hospital.

More than a week into fighting, with Palestinians pounded night and day by airstrikes and Israelis racing for refuge from rockets as sirens wail, Gaza’s doctors are battling to keep pace.

At Shifa, the biggest health facility among the 13 hospitals and 54 clinics serving the crowded enclave’s 2 million people, the number of intensive care beds has been doubled to 32 as the toll of those wounded from the conflict mounts.

Like the rest of the system, the 750-bed hospital faced shortages of medicines and equipment before fighting erupted on May 10 – blamed by medics on a blockade led by Israel and backed by Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza. Israel says its measures aim to stop arms reaching militants. “The list of essential medications and medical disposables suffered an acute shortage,” Abu Sada said.

It’s not just medicines in short supply. Fuel for generators that power Gaza’s hospitals – with main’s power too intermittent to be relied on – is also running out.

Israel says its blockade does not aim to stop medicines or other humanitarian supplies, and any shortages are the result of actions by Hamas, the Islamist group that has run Gaza since 2007, when the blockade was imposed.

“Hamas constructed a network of underground terror tunnels in Gaza underneath the homes of Palestinians, using funds meant for their health & welfare to expand Hamas’ terror machine instead,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry said on Twitter Monday.

Hamas has rejected the accusation.

Palestinians say 201 people have been killed in Gaza since the fighting started, with hundreds more hurt, including those wounded by shrapnel or injured by collapsing buildings.

Israel has reported 10 dead in the rocket salvoes, with many more injured, some directly by the blasts and others when dashing to safety. Some are in a critical condition.

“We have a very bad time over here,” said Racheli Malka, an Israeli living in Ashkelon, a city north of Gaza repeatedly hit by rockets. “I hope it will finish fast.”

Nearby, Israelis celebrated the Jewish festival of Shavuot in a synagogue that had a hole caused by a rocket strike.

The Israeli military said Hamas – regarded by Israel, the United States and European Union as a terrorist group – and others militants had fired about 3,150 rockets in the past week.

‘OLD EQUIPMENT, OLD BUILDINGS’

Sacha Bootsma, the head of the World Health Organization in Gaza, said COVID-19 had strained the enclave’s struggling system.

“Before COVID, the health system could be categorized as fragile because it has very old equipment, old buildings, a shortage of properly trained health staff and, of course, a chronic shortage of essential medicines,” she said.

Gaza has reported about 106,000 cases of COVID-19, or about 5.3% of the population, with 986 deaths, health official say.

While Israel has rolled out one of the fastest vaccination programs in the world, fully inoculating about 55% of its 9.3 million people, Gaza received about 110,000 doses, or enough for 55,000 people, health officials say, to be distributed among one of the most densely populated areas in the world.

One ward at Shifa, still marked “Corona Isolation Department”, has had to be turned into an intensive care unit for those injured in the conflict.

“We require more urgent support from international and relief institutions,” said Ashraf Al-Qidra, spokesman for the ministry of health, calling for medicines and ambulances.

For those living near Shifa hospital, the sound of ambulances wears on their already shattered nerves. “As long as we hear sirens we know it is not over yet,” said Karam Badr, 57.

Yet, healthcare workers keep the creaking medical facilities going. WHO’s Bootsma said scarce resources were still reaching those most in need.

“The resilience of the health system is remarkable,” she said.

(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza; Additional reporting by Eli Berlzon in Ashkelon; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Alex Richardson)

Two dead, 27 hurt as Chad protesters demand civilian rule

By Edward McAllister and Mahamat Ramadane

N’DJAMENA (Reuters) -At least two people were killed and 27 injured in Chad on Tuesday as demonstrators took to the streets demanding a return to civilian rule after the military took control following President Idriss Deby’s death last week.

Tensions have risen in Chad following Deby’s death and the military transition is struggling to win over a population exhausted by 30 years of monolithic, autocratic rule.

A health official at a hospital in the capital N’Djamena, who requested anonymity, confirmed the death of a man in his 20’s who was brought into the emergency ward along with 27 other people injured during Tuesday’s protests.

Witnesses also reported the death of another protester in Moundou, Chad’s second largest city.

A spokesman for the ruling military council said security forces were attempting to contain the protesters while limiting material damage.

The military council seized power after Deby was killed as he visited troops fighting rebels on April 19.

Some opposition politicians have called the military takeover a coup and asked supporters to protest, even as the army appointed a civilian politician, Albert Pahimi Padacke, as prime minister of a transitional government on Monday.

The military council banned protests in a statement on Monday evening, saying no demonstrations that could lead to disorder were allowed while the country was still in mourning.

‘NO MONARCHY’

Headed by Deby’s son Mahamat Idriss Deby, who was declared president, the military council has said it will oversee an 18-month transition to elections.

“We do not want our country to become a monarchy,” said 34-year-old protester Mbaidiguim Marabel. “The military must return to the barracks to make way for a civilian transition.”

Trucks loaded with soldiers were seen patrolling the streets around central N’Djamena.

“The police came, they fired tear gas. But we are not scared,” said Timothy Betouge, age 70.

Police responded with tear gas as protesters burned tires in several neighborhoods of N’Djamena early on Tuesday. A Reuters witness said firefighters struggled to contain a blaze which was large enough to be seen from far away.

The council is coming under international pressure to hand over power to civilians as soon as possible. The African Union has expressed “grave concern” about the military takeover, while France, the former colonial ruler, and some of Chad’s neighbors are pushing for a civilian-military solution.

Anti-French sentiment was running high among the protesters, who blamed France for having backed the Deby regime against the will of the people. Posts on social media showed protesters burning a French flag.

Reuters reporters in N’Djamena were repeatedly berated by protesters who assumed they were French and told them to “go back to France”. The reporters saw businesses with French connections, such as a Total fuel station, being targeted by protesters.

Deby’s death came as Chad’s military battles an insurrection by Libya-based rebels known as the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT). The rebels came as close as 200-300 km (125-185 miles) from N’Djamena before being pushed back by the army.

Chad’s military council rejected an offer from the rebels for peace talks on Sunday, calling them “outlaws” who needed to be tracked down and arrested for their role in Deby’s death.

(Reporting by Edward McAllister and Mahamat Ramadane, additional reporting by Madjiasra Nako, writing by Cooper Inveen, editing by Bate Felix, William Maclean and Estelle Shirbon)

Witnesses recount deadly tornadoes in Alabama: ‘It came and it took them’

By Elijah Nouvelage

OHATCHEE, Ala. (Reuters) – A day after violent tornadoes killed at least five people in Alabama and left residents sorting through the destruction on Friday, storm forecasters issued another “severe weather risk” warning for the U.S. South this weekend.

In the wake of reports of 24 tornadoes striking Alabama and Georgia on Thursday, rough weather on Saturday could stir more tornadoes in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and the surrounding area, according to the National Weather Service.

Five people were killed in Alabama, NWS reported, although it could be days before the death count is finalized. Dozens of others were injured and entire neighborhoods destroyed.

A sixth death was tied to a tornado in Georgia.

In northern Alabama, the five confirmed fatalities were in Ohatchee, a town of about 1,200 people, according to the Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency.

Survivors described harrowing scenes of seeking cover from the twisters.

As she searched through a mountain of debris that a day earlier had been her father’s Alabama home, Rebecca Haynes Griffis recounted how her brother’s fast thinking helped both men survive the disaster.

“He saw it coming and he put my dad into a big bearhug and held onto him until things stopped moving,” Griffis told Reuters.

“The whole house started to contort around them. There was no roof all of a sudden. It came and it took them,” said Griffis, a COVID-19 travel nurse who was in Georgia when disaster struck in Ohatchee Thursday afternoon.

Her father, Mac Haynes, 78, and brother Philip Haynes, 50, landed in a cow pasture about 40 feet (12 meters) away from the foundation that once supported their trailer home, which was reduced to shreds.

Both men were hospitalized, with her father expected to be released on Friday. Her brother, who suffered fractures to his spine, ribs, shoulder and cheek, will remain hospitalized, said Griffis, as she sifted through the mountain of debris in search of family mementos.

“I found their wedding rings!” she said, clutching velvet boxes containing marriage bands worn by her father and his wife, now deceased.

Griffis, 48, said she has been frantically calling her father and brother from Georgia on Thursday to urge them to seek shelter in a neighbor’s home that has a basement.

“By the time they answered, it was on them,” Griffis said.

For three hours, the fire department cut through debris to reach the injured men in the field when suddenly winds started swirling again, possibly from a nearby tornado.

The fire department grabbed the men and fled to the nearby home’s basement, seeking refuge until they could safely transport the injured to a local hospital, Griffis said.

(Additional reporting and writing by Barbara Goldberg in New York, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Quake hits Zagreb, PM urges social distancing as residents flee buildings

By Igor Ilic

ZAGREB (Reuters) – A large earthquake struck near the Croatian capital Zagreb on Sunday, critically injuring a teenager caught in a collapsed building in the city center and prompting appeals for social distancing after people rushed out onto the streets.

Sixteen other people were injured, including another minor who was badly hurt, and the 5.3 magnitude quake caused fires and power blackouts in parts of the capital, hospital and emergency services said.

People ran from their apartment buildings to their cars as pieces of the facades started falling off. Dozens of cars were also damaged by debris which fell off buildings.

Authorities said around 70 buildings were damaged.

Damages on Zagreb’s cathedral and debris are seen following an earthquake, in Zagreb, Croatia March 22, 2020. REUTERS/Antonio Bronic

Ministers warned people not to walk close to buildings and beware of falling debris due to a strong wind. They also urged them to stay apart from one another as the country struggles to contain the spread of coronavirus.

“We are fighting two enemies at the moment, one is invisible and the other is unpredictable,” Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said.

So far, Croatia has reported 254 cases of the virus and one death.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said the government would provide accommodation in the students’ dormitory in Zagreb for up to 1,800 people whose homes were damaged.

He said the quake was the biggest to hit Zagreb in 140 years. It struck 6 km (4 miles) north of the city and was felt across the Western Balkans.

Zarko Rasic, head of the Zagreb Emergency Medicine Institute, a children’s hospital, said a 15-year-old was in a critical condition after being found by an emergency services team under a collapsed building and another minor had been admitted with head injuries from a falling roof.

The Zagreb Fire Department said firefighting and rescue operations were ongoing at several locations.

Plenkovic said the army had been called in to help clean up debris in Zagreb and urged citizens to “stay outside and keep your distance”.

“We are facing two crises now,” Plenkovic told a news conference. “Let us not forget the coronavirus epidemics … Individual discipline and responsibility is of utmost importance.”

Women walk past ruins of a building following an earthquake, in Zagreb, Croatia March 22, 2020. REUTERS/Antonio Bronic

Local media reported that many people had headed out of Zagreb, prompting police to organize checkpoints on the highway to check if they were violating self-isolation.

The German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) downgraded the magnitude of the quake to 5.3 from an initial reading of 6.0. Croatia’s state seismology service said there had been 30 aftershocks.

The government said it would estimate the damage in the coming weeks and ask the European Commission for aid.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake measured 5.4, while the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) also reported 5.3 magnitude, followed by another 5.1 magnitude earthquake.

(Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru, Igor Ilic in Zagreb and Maja Zuvela in Sarajevo; Editing by Sam Holmes/Christopher Cushing/Susan Fenton/Philippa Fletcher)

Taliban attack on U.S. military base kills one, injures scores

By Abdul Qadir Sediqi

KABUL (Reuters) – Suicide bombers struck the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing at least one person and injuring scores in a major attack that could scupper plans to revive peace talks between the United States and the Taliban.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which struck the Bagram air base north of Kabul.

“First, a heavy-duty Mazda vehicle struck the wall of the American base,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman. “Later several mujahideen equipped with light and heavy weapons were able to attack the American occupiers.”

The Taliban spokesman claimed the attack was still ongoing. The U.S.-led military coalition said the attack was “quickly contained and repelled”.

Abdul Shukoor Qudosi, the district governor of Bagram district, said 87 people were injured and one woman was killed, and that a clearance operation was still ongoing.

Five servicemen from the former Soviet republic of Georgia, which is part of the U.S.-led coalition, were among those injured, the country’s defense ministry said in a statement. The majority of casualties were Afghan.

“A 30-minute clash also happened between the attackers, who obviously wanted to enter the base, and foreign forces,” said Wahida Shahkar, a spokeswoman for the governor of Parwan province, which includes the Bagram district.

Two attackers detonated vehicles laden with explosives at the southern entrance to the base, while five more opened fire. It was not immediately clear how many of the five gunmen were killed, Shahkar said.

A medical base being built for locals was badly damaged, the coalition of foreign forces in Afghanistan said in a statement. The Taliban denied this.

U.S. President Donald Trump called off talks with the Taliban in September after an attack by the group killed an American soldier. The Taliban controls more territory than at any point since being ousted from power by Afghan foes with U.S. air support in 2001.

(Reporting by Abdul Qadir Sediqi in Kabul and Margarita Antidze in Tbilisi; Writing by Alasdair Pal)

Death toll in southern Philippines earthquake rises to seven

A damaged local town hall is seen in Mabini, Davao Del Sur, Philippines after a magnitude 6.6 earthquake struck Octiber 29, 2019 in this picture obtained from social media. Jaypee Catalan via REUTERS

Death toll in southern Philippines earthquake rises to seven
By Karen Lema

(Reuters) – The death toll from a strong earthquake in the southern Philippines has risen to seven, disaster and police officials said on Tuesday, as aftershocks continued to jolt many parts of Mindanao.

The 6.6 magnitude quake hit early on Tuesday, damaging buildings, toppling power lines and triggering landslides in the central area of the Philippines’ southern island.

A seven-year-old child and his 44-year old father were among those who were killed in the North Cotabato province after they were struck by a boulder, disaster officials said.

Authorities said the death toll could rise further because many injured were not immediately brought to hospitals.

“It was depressing to see the damage left by the earthquake,” Abril Espadera, a disaster official in North Cotabato, told Reuters, as he recalled seeing collapsed homes and demolished buildings in the province, including schools.

Smaller tremors rattled nervous residents throughout the day and those who were afraid to return to their homes set up tents to shelter near school yards, Espadera said.

In Magsaysay town in Davao del Sur province, rescuers were trying to recover three bodies after landslides in two separate towns swallowed parts of agricultural areas, police said.

The quake, whose magnitude was initially put at 6.7 by the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre, was the second powerful quake to strike Mindanao in two weeks.

Authorities had flagged the risk of landslides after the 6.3 quake on Oct. 16 in central Mindanao that killed seven and injured more than 200.

Earthquakes are common in the Philippines, which is on the geologically active Pacific Ring of Fire.

Power cables swayed in Davao city, the home town of President Rodrigo Duterte, where people rushed to open spaces, and some fainted out of fear. The quake also triggered power cuts in nearby General Santos city, media said.

Some schools in the area have suspended classes.

Duterte’s office has called for calm as it mobilized all government agencies to undertake damage assessment and to coordinate rescue and relief operations.

(Additional reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Bernadette Baum)

‘What death smells like’: Dorian’s toll expected to soar in Bahamas

A truck sits on its side following landfall by Hurricane Dorian at an undisclosed location in the Bahamas in this International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies photo released on September 6, 2019. Courtesy International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies/Handout via REUTERS

By Nick Brown

MARSH HARBOUR, Bahamas (Reuters) – The smell of death hangs over parts of Great Abaco Island in the northern Bahamas, where relief workers on Friday sifted through the debris of shattered homes and buildings in a search expected to dramatically drive up the death toll from Hurricane Dorian.

Dorian, the most powerful hurricane to ever hit the Bahamas, swept through the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama Island earlier this week, leveling entire neighborhoods and knocking out key infrastructure, including airport landing strips and a hospital.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of people are still missing, and officials say the death toll, which currently stands at 30, is likely to shoot up as more bodies are discovered in the ruins and floodwaters left behind by the storm.

“You smell the decomposing bodies as you walk through Marsh Harbour,” said Sandra Sweeting, 37, in an interview amid the wreckage on Great Abaco. “It’s everywhere. There are a lot of people who aren’t going to make it off this island.”

Some locals called the government’s initial official death toll a tragic underestimate.

“I work part-time in a funeral home, I know what death smells like,” said Anthony Thompson, 27. “There must be hundreds. Hundreds.”

Asked if any of his friends or family had perished, Thompson looked at the ground.

“I don’t want to ask, because there are people I still haven’t heard from,” he said.

Chaotic conditions around the islands were interfering with flights and boats, hampering relief efforts.

“Obviously, we have to take care of the sick and the injured first, but we’re also making preparations for the dead,” Dr. Caroline Burnett-Garraway, medical chief of staff at Princess Margaret Hospital in Nassau, told CNN by phone.

Many of those injured by the storm, which had been a Category 5 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of intensity, were being airlifted to the hospital with fractures and head injuries and suffering from trauma and dehydration, said Burnett-Garraway, who expects a “second wave” of patients in the coming days.

With many clinics in the northern Bahamas flooded and unable to receive the injured, relief groups are focusing on getting doctors, nurses and medical supplies into the hardest-hit areas and helping survivors get food and safe drinking water.

The risk of outbreaks of diarrhea and waterborne diseases is high because drinking water may be contaminated with sewage, according to the Pan American Health Organization, which described the situation for some people on Abaco as “desperate.”

The United Nations estimated 70,000 people were in immediate need of food, water and shelter on the islands, where looting of liquor stores and supermarkets has been reported.

The relief effort faces formidable logistical challenges because of the widespread destruction of Dorian, which hovered over the Bahamas for nearly two days with torrential rains and fierce winds that whipped up 12- to 18-foot (3.7- to 5.5-meter) storm surges.

The storm made landfall on the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Friday with winds of 90 miles per hour (150 km/h).

EMERGENCY OPERATION

The U.N. World Food Programme said on Thursday it was organizing an airlift from Panama of storage units, generators and prefab offices for two logistics hubs, as well as satellite equipment for emergency responders, and has bought 8 metric tonnes of ready-to-eat meals.

The U.N. agency has allocated $5.4 million to a three-month emergency operation to support 39,000 people, a spokesman said.

A flight from the U.S. Agency for International Development landed early on Thursday with enough relief supplies to help 31,500 people, bringing hygiene kits, water containers and buckets, plastic sheeting and chain saws.

Total insured and uninsured losses in the Bahamas amounted to $7 billion, including buildings and business interruptions, according to a preliminary estimate by Karen Clark & Co, a consultancy that provides catastrophic modeling and risk management services.

(Reporting by Nick Brown in Sandy Point, Bahamas, additional reporting by Dante Carrer in Marsh Harbour, Bahamas and Peter Szekely and Matthew Lavietes in New York; Writing by Paul Simao; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)

Crane collapses on Dallas apartment building, killing one, injuring six

A construction crane collapses amidst high winds in Dallas, Texas, U.S., June 9, 2019 in this still image taken from a social media video. Sophie Daigle via REUTERS

(Reuters) – A construction crane, apparently toppled by high winds, collapsed onto an apartment house in Dallas on Sunday and sliced through five floors of the building, killing at least one person and injuring six others, a city fire and rescue spokesman said.

The building’s parking garage was also heavily damaged, and authorities planned a thorough search of the entire structure for anyone else who may have been trapped or killed inside, the spokesman, Jason Evans, told reporters at the scene.

“We’re hoping that what we have at this point is where it ends” in terms of casualties, Evans said during the televised news briefing.

The collapse occurred just before 2 p.m. CDT as a bout of severe weather blew through the city, according to Evans and a number of eyewitness accounts reported in the news media.

A nearby resident identified as Abbey Kearney told CNN that she and her husband saw the crane come down on the Elan City Lights apartment building in downtown Dallas just as extremely high winds kicked up in the area.

“It just sliced through the building … like a hot knife through butter,” she said.

Evans said one person was found dead in a residential portion of the five-story building hardest hit by the fallen crane, and six others were taken to hospitals, two of them in critical condition.

Local media reports said the person who died was a woman.

While the precise cause of the accident was not immediately determined, Evans said there was a “strong possibility that yes, the wind did play some role in the collapse of the crane itself.”

The crane broke into several pieces that fell into different portions of the apartment building, located across the street from a large construction site, Evans said. He said did not know whether the crane was in operation at the time.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Deadly storms leave thousands without power in eastern U.S

A view of clouds, part of a weather system seen from near Franklin, Texas, U.S., in this still image from social media video dated April 13, 2019. TWITTER @DOC_SANGER/via REUTERS

(Reuters) – Tornadoes, wind gusts of up to 70 mph and pounding hail remained threats early on Monday from eastern New York and into New England, as the remnants of a deadly storm push out to sea, the National Weather Service said.

More than 79,000 homes and businesses were without power in Virginia, according to the tracking site PowerOutage.US, with 89,000 more outages reported across Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan, Maryland and New York.

The affected areas will get heavy rains, winds with gusts of up to 70 mph (110 kph) and the possibility of hail, NWS Weather Prediction Center in Maryland said.

“This is an ongoing threat,” said Brian Hurley, from the center.

“There are short spin-ups, pockets of heavy rain and damaging winds that can still hit before this pushes off shore.”

The weekend’s storm brought tornadoes that killed at least five people, including three children, in the U.S. South, officials said.

The massive storm system sped from Texas eastward with dozens of twisters reported as touching down across the South from Texas through Georgia into Pennsylvania.

Nearly 2,300 U.S. flights were canceled by Sunday evening, more then 90 percent of them at airports in Chicago; Houston, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina; Pittsburgh; Columbus, Ohio and a dozen major airports on the Eastern Seaboard, according to FlightAware.com.

But no major flight delays were reported on the east coast before 6 a.m. Monday.

The storm’s cold front brought snow to Chicago on Sunday, with 1 to 3 inches (2.5-7.6 cm) reported in central Illinois.

Two children, siblings aged three and eight, were killed on Saturday when a tree fell on the car in which they were sitting in Pollok, Texas, said a spokeswoman for the Angelina County Sheriff’s Department.

A third child, Sebastian Omar Martinez, 13, drowned late on Saturday when he fell into a drainage ditch filled with flash floodwaters near Monroe, Louisiana, said Deputy Glenn Springfield of the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office.

In another storm death nearby, an unidentified victim’s body was trapped in a vehicle submerged in floodwaters in Calhoun, Louisiana, Springfield said.

In Mississippi, Governor Phil Bryant said one person was killed and 11 injured over the weekend as tornadoes ripped through 17 counties and left 26,000 homes and businesses without electricity.

In addition, three people were killed when a private jet crashed in Mississippi on Saturday, although Bryant said it was unclear whether it was caused by the weather.

Soaking rains could snarl the Monday morning commute on the East Coast before the storm moves off to sea.

“The biggest impact rush hour-wise probably will be Boston, around 7 to 8 o’clock in the morning, and around New York City around 5 or 6 o’clock, before sunrise,” NWS meteorologist Bob Oravec said.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta, and Barbara Goldberg and Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Alison Williams)