IRMA: UAE plane to evacuate Emiratis from Florida

By Sheena Amos

Mohammed bin Rashid orders emergency relief airlift to Haiti

ABU DHABI 8 September 2017: His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has ordered a special plane to evacuate UAE citizens from the US State of Florida to a safe destination before Hurricane Irma could reach on Saturday or Sunday.

The move underscores the care lent by the UAE’s leadership for the safety and security of UAE citizens and closely following up their wellbeing and conditions wherever they are, said Wam.

The UAE Embassy in Washington urges UAE citizens currently in Florida to contact it in case of emergency on the following hotlines: (0012025776005), (0012027660088) and (0013048887756).

Those in need of urgent help can also call the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on the emergency phone number (0097180044444).

Mohammed bin Rashid orders emergency airlift of relief supplies to Haiti

DUBAI: On Thursday, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, ordered an emergency airlift of relief supplies to Haiti, which is expected to be severely affected by Hurricane Irma.

Following Sheikh Mohammed’s order, which came in response to a request from the United Nations World Food Programme and UNHRD partners, a B747-400 aircraft carrying relief aid flew out of Dubai International Airport this morning to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The plane is expected to land in Haiti on Friday, 8 September at 8:00 pm UAE time.

The aircraft to Haiti carried more than 90 metric tonnes of key relief items made available by International Humanitarian City (IHC) members. Among the relief and survival items on board are food and non-food supplies including mobile storage units, lighting equipment, water purification kits, and pool testers.

The air cargo transporting aid on behalf of the World Food Programme, Catholic Relief Services, and Care came in response to the forecast of a monster storm, Hurricane Irma, as it bears down on South America, and is expected to hit the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Haiti, and Cuba in the coming days.

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Upon hearing about Irma, believed to be one of the most powerful Atlantic storms ever recorded, and following the order of HH Sheikh Mohammed, a quick mobilisation was crucial to be able to reach the destination before any potential closure of airports. It was made possible thanks to the coordinated efforts of IHC and its members, under the Chairmanship of HRH Princess Haya bint Al Hussein.

HRH Princess Haya hailed the emergency airlift as a symbol of the UAE’s commitment to international humanitarian assistance. “This rapid response is the fruit of an unprecedented cooperation and proof of our robust support to vulnerable populations all over the world,” she said.

This is the fifth relief plane sent in 2017 by IHC under the instructions of HH Sheikh Mohammed to crisis and disaster-stricken areas. Earlier this year, aid was airlifted to Madagascar, South Sudan, Uganda and Iraq.

Similarly, HRH Princess Haya flew last year in October 2016 to Haiti and personally oversaw the delivery and distribution of relief supplies after Hurricane Matthew had devastated the island.

8.0-magnitude earthquake strikes near coast of Mexico

MEXICO CITY: An earthquake measured at a preliminary magnitude of 8.0 has hit late Thursday off the coast of Mexico, the US Geological Survey said.

“Hazardous waves from the earthquake were possible along the coasts of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras and Ecuador,” the US Tsunami Warning Centre said.

According to Deutsch Presse-Agentur, dpa, “The earthquake struck at a depth of 33 kilometres, some 119 kilometres south-south-west of Tres Picos, Mexico.”

There were no immediate reports of damage.

Hurricane Irma kills 10 in Caribbean, heads for Florida

CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti: Hurricane Irma barreled toward vulnerable Haiti on Thursday after devastating a string of Caribbean islands and killing at least 10 people as one of the most powerful Atlantic storms in a century took aim at Florida.

With winds of around 185 miles per hour (290 km per hour), the storm has smashed through several small islands in the northeast Caribbean in recent days, including Barbuda, Saint Martin and the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, ripping down trees and flattening homes and hospitals, Reuters reported.

Winds dipped slightly on Thursday to 175 mph as the storm lashed the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). Irma is expected to hit Florida as a very powerful Category 4 storm on Sunday, with storm surges and flooding beginning within the next 48 hours.

“The amount of wind that’s coming in, we don’t think we’ve seen anything quite like this,” U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday after declaring a major disaster in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“To the people of Florida, we just want you to protect yourselves, be very very vigilant and careful,” said the president, who owns the waterfront Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

Florida emergency management officials began evacuations, ordering tourists to leave the Keys. Gas shortages in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area worsened on Thursday, with sales up to five times the norm.

A mandatory evacuation on Georgia’s Atlantic coast was due to begin on Saturday, Governor Nathan Deal said.

Across the Caribbean authorities rushed to evacuate tens of thousands of residents and tourists in the path of the storm, while on islands in its wake, shocked locals tried to comprehend the extent of the devastation.

In the U.S. Virgin islands, a major hospital was obliterated by the wind and Barbuda, where one person died, was reduced “to rubble”, according to Prime Minister Gaston Browne. In the British overseas territory of Anguilla another person was killed, while the hospital and airport, power and phone service were damaged, emergency service officials said.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said four bodies were recovered on the tiny French-Dutch island of Saint Martin, which was hit hard.

“It is an enormous disaster. Ninety-five percent of the island is destroyed. I am in shock,” Daniel Gibbs, chairman of a local council on Saint Martin, told Radio Caribbean International.

Television footage from the island showed a damaged marina with boats tossed into piles, submerged streets and flooded homes. French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday to coordinate an emergency humanitarian response.

Three people were killed in Puerto Rico and around two-thirds of the population lost their electricity, Governor Ricardo Rossello said after the storm passed by the U.S. territory’s northern coast. A surfer was also reported killed in Barbados.

The storm passed just to the north of the Hispaniola island shared by Dominican Republic and Haiti, causing some damage to roofs and flooding as it approached the impoverished Haitian side of the island, which is particularly vulnerable to hurricanes and rain.

The first bands of rain and wind began to lash Haiti’s normally bustling northern port city of Cap-Haitien on Thursday.

“We’re asking all those living in areas at risk to leave their homes. If you don’t, you’ll be evacuated by force,” President Jovenel Moise said. “When you go to shelters you’ll find food, you’ll have something to sleep on.”

The United Nations Children’s Fund warned millions of children could be at risk in those two countries. Irma’s eye was forecast to pass over the Turks and Caicos Islands, a British territory, and the Bahamas before moving towards Cuba’s sandy keys.

Cuba started evacuating some of the 51,000 tourists visiting the island, particularly 36,000 people at resorts on the picturesque northern coast, most of them Canadians.

“Canada decided … to evacuate all the Canadian tourists in the country,” said Cuban Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero, estimating they made up 60 percent of tourists in the country’s keys.

Authorities in the Dominican Republic also ordered evacuations in towns along the northern Atlantic coast such as Cabarete, a thriving tourist spot where trees were brought down by high winds but no severe damage was reported.

Amid criticism from many residents that the British government could have done more to help its territories, Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan said a Royal Navy ship would reach the affected islands on Thursday with tents, vehicles and other relief equipment. Britain released 32 million pounds ($42 million) for aid.

“Anguilla received the hurricane’s full blast. The initial assessment is that the damage has been severe and in places critical,” Duncan told parliament.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth said she was “shocked and saddened” by the reports of Caribbean devastation.

Irma was the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean and one of the five most forceful storms to hit the Atlantic basin in 82 years, according to the NHC.

Two other hurricanes formed on Wednesday.

Katia in the Gulf of Mexico posed no threat to the United States, according to U.S. forecasters. Hurricane Jose was about 815 miles (1,310 km) east of the Caribbean’s Lesser Antilles islands, and could eventually threaten the U.S. mainland.

The storm activity comes after Harvey claimed about 60 lives and caused property damage estimated to be as much as $180 billion in Texas and Louisiana.

UAE provides $10 million to help people rebuild from Hurricane Harvey

WASHINGTON: In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which brought unprecedented flooding and destruction to communities across southeast Texas, the United Arab Emirates, UAE, Embassy in Washington, DC, has pledged $10 million to help with local and state recovery efforts.

UAE Ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al Otaiba, made the announcement after speaking with Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

In the coming weeks, UAE Embassy officials will coordinate with state and local leaders in Texas about specific relief and recovery efforts that the UAE gift will support. They will also discuss additional projects where UAE volunteers or assistance may be needed. Working together, the UAE’s gift will help those communities in Texas that felt the greatest impact and are in the greatest need.

“The people of the UAE stand with Texans who have been impacted by this disastrous storm,” said Ambassador Al Otaiba. “The resilience and resourcefulness shown by the people of Texas as they begin the long recovery and rebuilding process is an inspiration for everyone, and the UAE government is proud to provide assistance.”

Ambassador Al Otaiba continued, “In times like these, friends help each other, and the UAE is committed to helping Houston and other communities rebuild.”

“The response from people not just across the country, but from around the world, to the recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey has been tremendous,” said Governor Abbott. “I want to offer my most sincere thanks to Ambassador Al Otaiba and the government of the United Arab Emirates for their generous assistance to the State of Texas as we begin to rebuild.”

The UAE has long track record helping US communities in need after natural disasters. UAE gifts and volunteer projects helped communities recover after Hurricane Katrina (2005) and Hurricane Sandy (2012). In addition, the UAE helped Joplin, Missouri rebuild in 2011 after one of the largest tornados ever recorded in the US devastated the community.

The strong ties between the UAE and US are deeply rooted in shared interests and common values. Together, the two countries are working to promote regional security, create economic prosperity, and address pressing global challenges.