Hurricane Dorian gains strength as Florida braces for hit, Trump says Florida faces ‘absolute monster’

Shoppers wait in a long line for a Sam's Club store to open before sunrise, as people rushed to buy supplies ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Dorian in Kissimmee, Florida, U.S. August 30, 2019. REUTERS/Gregg Newton

By Zach Fagenson

MIAMI (Reuters) – Hurricane Dorian gained strength as it crept closer to Florida’s coast on Friday, raising the risk that parts of the U.S. state will be hit by strong winds, a storm surge and heavy rain for a prolonged period after it makes landfall early next week.

The Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) issued a hurricane watch for northwestern Bahamas, and said Dorian was likely to remain an extremely dangerous hurricane as it approaches Florida through the weekend.

“The biggest concern will be Dorian’s slow motion when it is near Florida, placing some areas of the state at an increasing risk of a prolonged, drawn-out event of strong winds, dangerous storm surge, and heavy rainfall,” the center said.

The storm began Friday over the Atlantic as a Category 2 but was already expected to be classified a Category 3 later in the day, with sustained winds of at least 110 miles per hour (175 km per hour).

The entire state of Florida was under a declaration of emergency, and Governor Ron DeSantis has activated 2,500 National Guard troops, with another 1,500 on standby.

Forecasters predicted the storm would grow more ferocious as it gained fuel from the warm waters off Florida, slamming into the state late on Monday or early Tuesday. Tropical storm winds could be felt in Florida as soon as Saturday.

No evacuations were ordered as of early Friday, but many were expected as the storm’s path becomes clearer before it makes landfall.

If, as expected, the storm reaches Category 4 over the weekend, its winds will blow at more than 130 mph (210 kph). There was concern that it could slow from its current 12-mph (9-kph) march across the map, giving it more time to draw fuel from warm seas.

Recent NHC weather models show Dorian smacking into the center of Florida. It was trending northwest in the latest advisory issued at 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT) on Friday.

The storm could roll inland toward Orlando on Tuesday or early Wednesday, weakening as it moves away from the sea. Other NHC weather models show it tracking south toward Miami before hitting the peninsula, or heading north to the Georgia coast.

Along with the dangerous winds, the storm was expected to drop 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) of rain on the coastal United States, with some areas getting as much as 15 inches (38 cm).

“This rainfall may cause life-threatening flash floods,” NHC forecasters said.

President Donald Trump on Thursday canceled a planned weekend trip to Poland, sending Vice President Mike Pence in his place, so he can make sure resources are properly directed for the storm.

“Now it’s looking like it could be an absolute monster,” Trump said in a video posted on Twitter, adding that food and water were being shipped to Florida.

Governor DeSantis said Floridians need to take the storm seriously.

“Hurricane #Dorian is moving slowly & gaining strength,” DeSantis wrote on Twitter. “Now is the time to get prepared & have a plan.”

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency in 12 counties to assist with storm readiness, response and recovery.

‘NOT LOOKING GOOD’

Angela Johnson, a 39-year-old bar manager in South Florida, said on Thursday, “We’re worried. This is not looking good for us.”

“We woke up a lot more scared than we went to bed last night, and the news is not getting any better,” said Johnson, who manages Coconuts On The Beach, a bar and restaurant on the surfing beach in the town of Cocoa Beach.

Officials were making piles of sand available for Cocoa Beach residents to fill sandbags starting on Friday.

Dorian could churn across dozens of launchpads owned by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Air Force and companies such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.

(Reporting by Zach Fagenson in Miami and Rich McKay in Atlanta; additional reporting by Gabriella Borter, Andrew Hay, Helen Coster in New York, Alexandra Alper, Joey Roulette and Eric Beech in Washington; writing by Paul Simao; editing by Jane Merriman and Jonathan Oatis)

Strengthening Hurricane Dorian takes aim at Bahamas and Florida

Hurricane Dorian is shown in this photo taken by NASA's Terra satellite MODIS instrument as it nears St. Thomas and the U.S. Virgin Islands as it continues its track toward Florida's east coast August 28, 2019. NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS)/Handout via REUTERS

(Reuters) – Hurricane Dorian took aim at the Bahamas and the Florida coast on Thursday, spurred on by warm Atlantic waters as it threatens to strengthen into a dangerous Category 3 storm.

Dorian earlier sideswiped the Caribbean without doing major damage but 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, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said in an advisory.

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 on Wednesday said that 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.

Dorian, currently a Category 1 storm, is expected to grow into a Category 3 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of intensity, with winds greater than 111 mph (178 km/h) by the time it makes landfall, most likely on Florida’s eastern coast on Monday, before lingering over central Florida on Tuesday, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said.

Early on Thursday, the hurricane center said Dorian was packing maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour (137 km per hour) some 150 miles (240 km) north-northwest of San Juan, and about 425 miles (685 km) east-southeast of the southeastern Bahamas.

“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 on Saturday.”

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

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 northwest 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 Andrew Hay, Ezequiel Abiu Lopez, Alex Dobuzinskis, Rebekah F Ward, Lisa Lambert and David Alexander; Editing by Will Dunham)

Canary Islands wildfire prompts 9,000 evacuations; reaches park

Trees burnt in a forest fire are seen in the village of Guia, in the Canary Island of Gran Canaria, Spain, August 20, 2019. REUTERS/Borja Suarez

TEJEDA, Spain (Reuters) – An out-of-control wildfire on Gran Canaria in Spain’s Canary Islands kept spreading on Monday, increasing to 9,000 the number of people evacuated from eight municipalities and reaching a natural park, authorities said on Monday.

The blaze, which began on Saturday near the town of Tejeda, is advancing on several fronts, propelled by a combination of high temperatures, strong winds and low humidity. So far, the fire is affecting the mountainous central part of the island rather than coastal areas busy with tourists in the summer months.

Around 6,000 hectares (23.17 square miles) have burned so far and the fire has entered the northwestern Tamadaba natural park, home to some of the island’s oldest pine forests and considered a complicated area for firefighters to intervene.

“We will defeat this serious and damaging fire,” Canary Islands’ regional president Angel Victor Torres said in a statement released by his office.

Gran Canaria’s airport is not being affected by the blaze, it added.

Sixteen planes and helicopters, as well as more than 1,000 firefighters, are working to contain flames as high as 50 metres (164 feet), authorities said.

The blaze marks the second time that Tejeda has been evacuated this month due to wildfire.

(Reporting by Ashifa Kassam and Joan Faus, aditional reporting by Borja Suarez, editing by Andres Gonzalez, Toby Chopra, William Maclean)

Evacuees fleeing Canary Islands wildfire rise to 8,000

A helicopter carries water to fight a forest fire seen in the village of Guia on the Canary Island of Gran Canaria, Spain, August 19, 2019. REUTERS/Borja Suarez

TEJEDA, Spain (Reuters) – Around 8,000 people have been evacuated as firefighters battle an out-of-control wildfire on Gran Canaria in Spain’s Canary Islands, authorities said on Monday.

The blaze, which began on Saturday near the town of Tejeda, is advancing on several fronts, propelled by a combination of high temperatures, strong winds and low humidity. So far, the fire is affecting the mountainous central part of the island rather than coastal areas busy with tourists in the summer months.

“The fire remains out of control,” a spokeswoman for emergency services in the region told Reuters. “It is a very serious fire.”

Sixteen planes and helicopters, as well as more than 700 firefighters, are currently working to contain flames as high as 50 meters, authorities said. More than 3,400 hectares have burned so far and the fire is moving aggressively toward the northwestern Tamadaba natural park, home to some of the island’s oldest pine forests.

Some 400 firefighters spent the night battling the fire’s flanks, hoping to choke it off as it moved toward more populated areas.

The blaze marks the second time that Tejeda has been evacuated this month due to wildfire.

(Reporting by Ashifa Kassam, additional reporting by Borja Suarez, editing by Andres Gonzalez and Toby Chopra)

Fire resurges on Greece’s Evia, challenges firefighters

A firefighting plane makes a water drop as a wildfire burns near the village of Stavros on the island of Evia, Greece, August 14, 2019. REUTERS/Costas Baltas

ATHENS (Reuters) – Aircraft and firefighters on the ground fought a blaze that burned large tracts of pristine pine forest on the Greek island of Evia on Wednesday as the wildfire flared up again at different spots.

A state of emergency has been declared in regions of the densely forested island east of Athens, after the blaze broke out on Tuesday, fanned by strong winds and high temperatures.

The wildfire had prompted the evacuation of villages and spurred an appeal for help from elsewhere in Europe.

Italy sent two aircraft after an appeal for airborne firefighting equipment from Greek authorities. Although conditions had improved by Wednesday morning, new blazes continued to challenge firefighting efforts.

Water dumping by specially equipped aircraft started at first light. “It is a difficult fire, that’s the reality … there is no danger to human life and that is what is important,” Kostas Bakoyannis, the regional governor for central Greece, told Skai TV.

Fire officials said four villages and hundreds of people were evacuated as a precaution on Tuesday and one firefighter was hospitalized after suffering burns.

“The situation in Evia was very difficult and remains difficult,” Christos Stylianides, the European Union’s aid commissioner, said after meeting Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Drawing upon his experience from other forest fires around Europe, Stylianides said he was impressed at the coordination shown among authorities dealing with the emergency, calling firefighters heroes.

“We managed to protect lives and to save people’s property,” Civil Protection Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis said.

Greece has bitter memories of a horrific blaze that tore through the seaside town of Mati near Athens in July 2018, killing 102 people in a matter of hours. Authorities were accused then of poor coordination and a slow response.

Mitsotakis, a conservative elected last month, interrupted his holiday on Crete to return to Athens where he was briefed on the situation.

Television images showed flames and plumes of black smoke on mountainsides carpeted in pine. State television said about 28,000 hectares of pine forest was turned to ashes. The smoke was also captured by Copernicus EU satellite imagery.

Copernicus, the European Union’s eyes on earth with two Sentinel-3 satellites in orbit, said it had activated its emergency management service to assist in tracking the wildfire.

Greece often faces wildfires during its dry summer months, and authorities have warned of the high risk of blazes this week. Environmental campaigners see an increasing number of wildfires around the world as a symptom of climate change.

(Reporting by Michele Kambas and George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Larry King and Stephen Powell)

Severe sandstorm hits Egyptian cities, ports

A couple covers their faces with masks during a sandstorm in Cairo, Egypt January 16, 2019. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt’s capital Cairo and some of its port cities were hit by a severe sandstorm, with strong winds and heavy dust forcing the closure of several ports.

Pedestrians ducked into buildings for cover as a dark orange cloud descended on Cairo, with many using surgical masks to shield themselves against the sand blowing in the wind.

Motorists complained of reduced visibility on the highways leading in and out of the city.

A woman covers her face as she walks on the 6th October Bridge during a sandstorm in Cairo, Egypt January 16, 2019. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

A woman covers her face as she walks on the 6th October Bridge during a sandstorm in Cairo, Egypt January 16, 2019. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

“The color of the air is changing. There is some kind of fog. No one can see. So I hope God will get us through this, given that we’re riding motorcycles,” said Mahmoud, a motorcycle driver.

Sources at Cairo airport said the storm had caused some delays.

The Red Sea Ports Authority closed the ports of Suez and Zeitiyat at 2 pm (1200 GMT) due to bad weather, wind and high waves.

In the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, Reda El Ghandour, a spokesman for the Alexandria Port Authority, said that the maritime traffic remained suspended for the fourth consecutive day in the ports of Alexandria and Dekheila.

The health ministry has advised people suffering from respiratory problems to avoid leaving their homes amidst the storm.

(This story has been refiled to fix headline typo)

(Reporting by Mahmoud Mourad and Ahmed Fahmy; Writing by Nadine Awadalla; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Typhoon slices through western Japan, killing at least six

An aerial view shows a flooded runway at Kansai airport, which is built on a man-made island in a bay, after Typhoon Jebi hit the area, in Izumisano, western Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo September 4, 2018. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS

By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan issued evacuation advisories for more than a million people and canceled hundreds of flights as Typhoon Jebi sliced across the west on Tuesday, cutting power, overturning cars and killing at least six people.

Jebi, or “swallow” in Korean, was briefly a super typhoon and is the most powerful storm to hit Japan in 25 years following rains, landslides, floods and record-breaking heat that killed hundreds of people this summer.

Television footage showed waves pounding the coastline, sheet metal tumbling across a parking lot, cars turned on their sides, dozens of used cars on fire at an exhibition area, and a big Ferris wheel spinning around in the strong wind.

Parts of the roof of Kyoto train station fall to the ground during Typhoon Jebi, in Kyoto, Japan September 4, 2018, in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media. TWITTER/@CRAZY904KAZ/via REUTERS

Parts of the roof of Kyoto train station fall to the ground during Typhoon Jebi, in Kyoto, Japan September 4, 2018, in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media. TWITTER/@CRAZY904KAZ/via REUTERS

As the typhoon made landfall, a 71-year-old man was found dead under a collapsed warehouse, likely due to a strong wind, and a man in his 70s fell from the roof of a house and died, NHK public television reported, adding more than 90 were injured.

NHK and broadcaster TBS put the number of deaths at six.

Tides in some areas were the highest since a typhoon in 1961, NHK said, with flooding covering one runway at Kansai airport near Osaka, forcing the closure of the airport and leaving about 3,000 tourists stranded.

“This storm is super (strong). I hope I can get home,” a woman from Hong Kong told NHK at the airport.

The strong winds and high tides sent a 2,591-tonne tanker crashing into a bridge connecting the airport, built on a man-made island in a bay, to the mainland. The bridge was damaged and closed, but the tanker was empty and none of its crew was injured, the coast guard said.

The storm made landfall on Shikoku, the smallest main island, around noon. It raked across the western part of the largest main island, Honshu, near the city of Kobe, several hours later, before heading into the Sea of Japan in the evening.

The center of Jebi was about 100 km west-northwest of Sado in Niigata prefecture, central Japan, and heading north-northeast, NHK said.

Evacuation advisories were issued for more than a million people at one point, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said. Wind gusts of up to 208 km/h (129 mph) were recorded in one part of Shikoku.

Around 100 mm (3.9 inches) of rain drenched one part of the tourist city of Kyoto in an hour, with as much as 500 mm (20 inches) set to fall in some areas in the 24 hours to noon on Wednesday.

Video posted on Twitter showed a small part of the roof of Kyoto train station falling to the ground. Other video showed roofs being torn off houses, transformers on electric poles exploding and a car scudding on its side across a parking lot.

Nearly 800 flights were canceled, along with scores of ferries and trains, NHK said. Shinkansen bullet train services between Tokyo and Okayama were suspended and Universal Studios Japan, a popular amusement park near Osaka, was closed.

Some 1.6 million households were without power in Osaka and its surrounding areas at 5 p.m. (0800 GMT) Toyota Motor Corp said it was canceling the night shift at 14 plants.

The capital, Tokyo, escaped the center of the storm but was set for heavy rains and high winds.

Jebi’s course brought it close to parts of western Japan hit by rains and flooding that killed more than 200 people in July but most of the damage this time appeared to be from the wind.

(Additional reporting by Osamu Tsukimori, Naomi Tajitsu, and Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Nick Macfie)

More than 100 large wildfires in U.S. as new blazes erupt

Smoke rises over a hillside on fire in Fairfield, California, the U.S., August 10, 2018, in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media. Erika Bjork/Twitter/via REUTERS

(Reuters) – Six large new wildfires erupted in the United States, pushing the number of major active blazes nationwide to over 100, with more expected to break out sparked by lightning strikes on bone-dry terrain, authorities said on Saturday.

More than 30,000 personnel, including firefighters from across the United States and nearly 140 from Australia and New Zealand, were battling the blazes that have consumed more than 1.6 million acres (648,000 hectares), according to the National Interagency Coordination Center.

“We are expecting that there will be more fire-starts today,” Jeremy Grams, lead forecaster with the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma, said in an interview on Saturday.

FILE PHOTO: A still frame taken from a timelapse video sourced from social media dated August 6, 2018 shows the Holy Fire as seen from Rancho Santa Magarita, California, U.S. ARTHUR WHITING/via REUTERS

FILE PHOTO: A still frame taken from a timelapse video sourced from social media dated August 6, 2018, shows the Holy Fire as seen from Rancho Santa Magarita, California, U.S. ARTHUR WHITING/via REUTERS

He said dry thunderstorms, which produce lightning but little rain, are expected for parts of the Rocky Mountain region, while the U.S. northwest has critical fire weather conditions that include strong winds and low relative humidity.

Firefighters were battling another day of extremely hot temperatures and strong winds on Saturday, the National Interagency Coordination Center said.

The fires have scorched states from Washington to New Mexico, with California among the hardest hit.

A mechanic helping to fight the Carr Fire near Redding in northern California was killed in a car crash on Thursday, the eighth person to die in that conflagration.

The 190,873-acre (77,243-hectare) Carr Fire has destroyed nearly 1,100 homes.

About 100 miles (160 km) southwest of the Carr Fire, about 3,500 firefighters are battling the Mendocino Complex Fire, which has burned 328,226 acres (132,828 hectares) as of Saturday and was the largest fire on record in California.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Richard Borsuk)

Brutal weather threatens California wildfire battle

A satellite image shows the River fire at the Mendocino Complex wildfire in California, U.S., August 6, 2018. Picture taken on August 6, 2018. Satellite image ©2018 DigitalGlobe, a Maxar company/Handout via REUTERS

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Fierce winds, bone-dry weather, and high temperatures are expected on Thursday in northern California, where they could threaten efforts to fight the largest wildfire in state history.

Wind gusting up to 35 miles (56 km) an hour, temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 C) and 10 percent humidity are in the forecast from Thursday afternoon to Saturday in northern California.

Firefighters in the area are battling the Mendocino Complex and the Carr Fire, the National Weather Service said in an Red Flag warning.

“A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior,” the service said.

More than 4,000 firefighters were confronting the Mendocino Complex, which covered more than 302,000 acres (122,215 hectares) on Wednesday, making it the largest wildfire in California history.

Two firefighters have been injured and 119 homes destroyed, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said.

About 100 miles northeast, near Redding, 4,700 crews were fighting the 176,000-acre Carr Fire, which has been blamed for seven deaths, including two firefighters, and has destroyed 1,077 homes, Cal Fire said.

The two fires were 47 percent contained on Wednesday, Cal Fire said.

Fifteen other major fires are burning in California. Together, they have destroyed more than 1,500 structures and displaced tens of thousands of people.

To the south, in the Cleveland National Forest area, the relatively small 4,129-acre Holy Fire has destroyed 12 structures, fire officials said.

A 51-year-old man was arrested and booked on two counts of felony arson, one felony count of threat to terrorize and a misdemeanor count of resisting arrest, the Cleveland National Forest said on Twitter on Wednesday.

The fire has displaced 20,000 people, CNN reported.

(Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee, editing by Larry King)

Passengers recount escape from burning Mexican plane

Firefighters douse a fire as smoke billows above the site where an Aeromexico-operated Embraer passenger jet crashed in Mexico's northern state of Durango, July 31, 2018, in this picture obtained from social media. Proteccion Civil Durango/via REUTERS

By Julia Love and Daina Beth Solomon

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Shortly after boarding her flight in the northern Mexican state of Durango afternoon on Tuesday afternoon, Ashley Garcia had a premonition that something was wrong.

The 17-year-old high school student from Northlake, a suburb of Chicago, was one of 65 U.S. citizens among the 103 passengers and crew aboard the Aeromexico passenger jet that crashed near the runway shortly after take-off.

Settling into her seat, Garcia saw a storm was gathering fast in the distance, and by the time the aircraft began preparing for takeoff it was battered by strong winds, hail and rain. Garcia captured the scene through her window with her cellphone.

“I had a gut feeling: just record it, just record it,” said Garcia. “I was like, there’s no way we are taking off, it’s too risky.”

The flight crashed moments after taking off, skidding to a halt in scrubland near the runway, a wing in flames. Passengers described how they followed escape procedures, enabling everyone to evacuate without any fatalities.

“We had been told so many times what to do,” Garcia said of the safety protocol passengers around the world are taught every time they board a plane. “No one ever thinks it’s going to happen until it happens to them. We were there for each other… That’s how we were able to get off safely.”

Investigators found the Embraer passenger jet’s recorders on Wednesday and have still to determine the cause of the crash. Aeromexico said 64 people have been released from hospitals. Two people, including the pilot, were more seriously injured.

Garcia was returning to the United States with three cousins after a two-week trip to visit relatives, traveling from Durango to Mexico City to catch a connecting flight to Chicago.

Liliana Gallarzo, Garcia’s cousin, thought the bumpy take-off was turbulence until the aircraft began skidding and panic set in.

“We were screaming,” said Gallarzo, a 19-year-old college student from Chicago. “Everyone was trying to get away from the plane, trying to get out.”

They smelled the smoke right away. But the cousins were seated in the middle of the cabin, and passengers were exiting from the front and rear doors, as the emergency exits in the middle of the plane were unused due to the fire near the wing, Garcia said.

Filing behind fellow travelers, they made their way toward the rear as the aircraft filled with smoke. Garcia grabbed her phone but left her luggage behind, losing her glasses in the shuffle.

When they reached the exit, there were no emergency slides, meaning they had to jump, Garcia said. A trampoline was there to cushion their fall, and fellow passengers helped them make the jump.

Once off the plane, Garcia coughed and vomited, choking for air. A flight attendant directed the cousins to get as far away as possible from the plane, which was soon engulfed by the fire, leaving only smoldering wreckage after firefighters extinguished the blaze. They walked through the rain, their clothes soaked.

After waiting for further direction, they headed closer to the runway, where firefighters, paramedics, and other emergency personnel sprang into action, checking passengers for injuries. Suffering from minor scratches and bruises, Garcia was taken to the hospital, where she underwent X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) before returning home that night.

She said the compassion shown to her by emergency personnel affirmed her desire to be a police officer. She has a flight home booked for Friday.

“I didn’t think I would be able to get back on a flight, but I have experienced the worst,” Garcia said. “So now, whatever happens, it’s meant to happen.”

(Reporting by Julia Love and Daina Beth Solomon; writing by Julia Love; editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)