Kentucky tornadoes: Biden declares federal disaster as hopes rise that death toll could be lower than feared
theguardian– US president Joe Biden declared a major federal disaster in Kentucky after a swarm of deadly tornadoes hit the state on Friday, as representatives of a candle factory destroyed by a twister said far fewer people may have died than previously feared.
Biden had previously declared the storms a federal emergency and the move to designate the storms a federal disaster paves the way for additional aid, as thousands face housing, food, water and power shortages.
It follows a formal request from Kentucky governor Andy Beshear who said the tornadoes were the most destructive in the state’s history.
Beshear had initially said the death toll could exceed 100 after twisters tore through the US midwest and south on Friday night.
Dozens of people in several counties in the state are still believed to have died in the storms, but Beshear said on Sunday afternoon the death toll might be as low as 50, according to the Associated Press.
“We are praying that maybe original estimates of those we have lost were wrong. If so, it’s going to be pretty wonderful,” the governor said.
Among the 110 people who were at the candle factory, eight have been confirmed dead and eight others remained missing, said Bob Ferguson, a spokesperson for Mayfield Consumer Products, which owns the factory. He said 90 people had been located, a figure that authorities were trying to confirm.
“There were some early reports that as many as 70 could be dead in the factory. One is too many, but we thank God that the number is turning out to be far, far fewer,” Ferguson said, adding that rescue teams were still searching for the eight who remained unaccounted for.
It was unclear how many factory workers Beshear was counting in the latest death toll estimates.
“We’re still getting information in on the candle factory. The owner has been in contact and believes he has some different information. We are trying verify it. If so, it may be a better situation and the miracle we were hoping for,” Beshear told a news conference on Sunday evening.
Rescue workers continued to scour debris for survivors and many people without power, water or even a roof over their heads salvaged what they could two days after disaster struck.
While Kentucky was hardest hit, six workers were killed at Amazon.com Inc warehouse in Illinois after the plant buckled under the force of the tornado, including one cargo driver who died in the bathroom, where many workers said they had been directed to shelter.
A nursing home was struck in Arkansas, causing one of that state’s two deaths. Four were reported dead in Tennessee and two in Missouri.
Nowhere suffered as much as Mayfield, a community of about 10,000 in the south-western corner of Kentucky, where the large twisters also destroyed the fire and police stations. The governor said the tornadoes were the most destructive in the state’s history.
“The very first thing that we have to do is grieve together and we’re going to do that before we rebuild together,” Beshear said, noting that one tornado tore across 227 miles (365 km) of terrain, almost all of that in Kentucky.
A vast storm front moved across the Mississippi basin and parts of the US south-east and midwest on Friday night, spawning more than 30 tornadoes.
Spring is the main season for tornadoes and this latest event was very unusual coming in December, when colder weather normally limits tornadoes, said Victor Gensini, an extreme weather researcher at Northern Illinois University.
Asked if he thought the intensity of the storms was related to climate crisis, president Biden said: “All I know is that the intensity of the weather across the board has some impact as a consequence of the warming of the planet. The specific impact on these specific storms, I can’t say at this point.”
Illinois was hit, too, and six people were killed in the collapse of an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, with another injured worker airlifted to a hospital, fire chief James Whiteford said.
In addition, so far four people have been reported killed in Tennessee, two in Arkansas and two in Missouri as well as the high toll in Kentucky.
Kyanna Parsons-Perez, who was at the candle factory in Mayfield, said she felt the building was making her and her co-workers “rock from one side to the other” right before it collapsed.
Parsons-Perez was stuck for three hours in the rubble, and documented part of it in a livestream on Facebook in which her co-workers can be heard crying in fear.
Sitting in the hospital, she told the Guardian how a gust of wind suddenly changed everything. “My ears started popping and I felt my body swaying,” she said of the moments right before the building collapsed.
She became very scared upon learning that she was buried under. “When I found out it was an air conditioner on me and five people on the debris on top of me is when I got scared,” she said.
The storm was so powerful that a photograph from a tornado-damaged home in Kentucky was found almost 130 miles away in Indiana.
The US uniquely experiences more than 1,200 tornadoes annually, more than four times the number in other countries around the world where they occur, combined, according to experts.
With Reuters and the Associated Press
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Strategic Twinning of Rabat And Madrid: A Defense Against Mediterranean Tension
Rabat – The writer-journalist, Abdelhamid Jmahri believes that the wish today of Morocco and Spain, after the clarification of the foundations of their cooperation, is to establish a geostrategic twinning that goes beyond the limits of close cooperation and privileged partnership, thus blocking the way to maneuvers aimed at exacerbating tensions in the Mediterranean region.
Al Itihad Al Ichtiraki”
In an editorial to appear in the Saturday edition of the Arabic-language daily “Al Itihad Al Ichtiraki”, he notes that this ambition is clearly displayed through the will of HM King Mohammed VI in His call to inaugurate “a new unprecedented stage ” and also that of King Felipe VI of Spain calling for weaving partnership relations for the 21st century.
He maintains that the High Level Meeting (RHN) held last Thursday in Rabat is the bearer of strategic partnerships specific to countries concerned with a perfect understanding of their common interests and also sharing the same conception of the interactions of international action, at the present time. as in the future.
While emphasizing that the two Kingdoms have set a living example on the priority nature of the conciliatory diplomatic approach and its supremacy in the settlement of disputes, he observes that the agreements signed during this High Level Meeting relate to key sectors targeted , in support of a common understanding of priorities.
This article is originally published on msn.com
Spain-Morocco Reconnection: Post-Crisis Efforts
After a deep diplomatic crisis, Spain and Morocco cemented their reconciliation on Thursday in Rabat, despite criticism in Madrid over too many concessions from Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
Mr. Sanchez, accompanied by a dozen ministers, co-chaired a “high-level meeting” (RHN) with his counterpart Aziz Akhannouch, the first since 2015.
“Today we are consolidating the new stage in relations between Morocco and Spain that we have opened,” he said, praising “the enormous unexplored potential of this relationship”.
Before his arrival in Rabat on Wednesday, the Socialist Prime Minister spoke by telephone with King Mohammad VI who invited him to return “very soon” to Morocco for an official visit “in order to reinforce this positive dynamic”, according to the royal cabinet.
Mr. Sanchez ended last March a year of diplomatic estrangement with Morocco by agreeing to support Moroccan positions on Western Sahara.
The crisis erupted in April 2021 after the hospitalization in Spain – under a false identity according to Rabat – of the leader of the Sahrawi separatists of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, sworn enemy of Morocco.
The Rabat-Madrid honeymoon comes as France – another historical partner of Rabat – is pilloried by Moroccan politicians and media who accuse it of having “orchestrated” a European Parliament resolution worrying about freedom of the press in Morocco and allegations of corruption of MEPs in Brussels.
But this idyll is not to everyone’s taste in Spain. The radical left formation Podemos, member of the government coalition, did not wish to be on the trip to Rabat, citing its opposition to Mr. Sanchez’s “unilateral” turn on Western Sahara. A turnaround applauded in Rabat.
The fact that Mr. Sanchez was not received by Mohammad VI is seen as a snub in Spain by the right-wing opposition and the press. The Popular Party, the main opposition force, deplored Thursday, through the voice of its general coordinator Elias Bendodo, that “Spain has given an image of weakness”.
“The absence of Mohammad VI spoils the summit”, wrote the daily El Païs (center left) while the newspaper El Mundo (conservative) headlined: “Mohammad VI shows his position of strength with regard to Spain by posing a rabbit to Sanchez”.
New Economic Partnership
Pedro Sanchez said he hoped for the development of “new investment projects accompanying the extraordinary process of development and modernization of Morocco”. “Morocco and Spain wish to establish a new economic partnership at the service of development”, underlined for his part Mr. Akhannouch.
Twenty agreements were signed on Thursday to facilitate Spanish investment in Morocco – Spain is the third largest foreign investor there – in the fields of renewable energies, water desalination, rail transport, tourism , education and culture. To this end, a new financial protocol has been approved which will double – to 800 million euros – aid from the Spanish government for investment projects in Morocco.
Also in the pipeline is an agreement to “completely normalize the passage of people and goods” through sea and land borders. The opening of land crossings concern the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta, in northern Morocco.
Without forgetting the files of illegal immigration and the fight against terrorism. Madrid highlighted the drop of more than 25% in illegal immigration in 2022 thanks to its police cooperation with Rabat, with 31,219 migrants entering Spain illegally in 2022.
This cooperation, welcomed by Rabat, was however tarnished by the death of at least 23 Sudanese migrants who had tried last June to enter the enclave of Melilla via the Moroccan border town of Nador.
The Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, was also to plead with his Moroccan counterpart, Abdelouafi Laftit, to reactivate the channels for the expulsion of irregular migrants and return to levels prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. , according to a source from the Spanish ministry.
Finally, Rabat is considered a key partner in the fight against terrorism. An important subject for Madrid after an attack at the end of January attributed to a young Moroccan in an irregular situation against two churches in Algeciras (South) in which a sexton was killed.
This article is originally published on lorientlejour.com
Morocco-Spain Partnership for 21st Century Challenges
Madrid – Aware of the strategic importance of preserving and developing a privileged relationship looking to the future, Morocco and Spain show a firm determination to build a renewed global partnership, up to the challenges but also opportunities offered by the 21st century, said Morocco’s ambassador to Spain, Karima Benyaich.
Both Countries Are Neighboring And Friendly
“Morocco and Spain are two friendly and neighboring countries, which share common values and interests and which continue to work together to make their relationship an example to follow in all areas,” said Ms. Benyaich in an interview with MAP, on the occasion of the holding in Rabat of the 12th Morocco/Spain High Level Meeting.
It is within the framework of this spirit that fits the speech delivered by HM King Mohammed VI on the occasion of the 68th anniversary of the Revolution of the King and the People, on August 20, 2021, in which the Sovereign called for the inauguration of an unprecedented stage in relations between the two countries, based on mutual trust, permanent consultation and frank and sincere cooperation, recalled Ms. Benyaich.
Responding to the generous appeal of HM the King, the Spanish government has repeatedly reaffirmed its unshakeable will to engage with Morocco in a renewed dynamic to establish a lasting relationship on more solid foundations, observed the Diplomat.
”Today, in accordance with this new dynamic initiated between the two countries since last April, following the visit of the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sanchez, to Morocco, at the invitation of HM the King and the adoption of an ambitious roadmap, Morocco and Spain are determined to move forward in the implementation of this virtuous process, by identifying all the appropriate means to give this partnership a serene, lasting basis and an operational character. which will strengthen bilateral relations and create mutually beneficial synergies,” noted Ms. Benyaich in this regard.
In this wake, the Ambassador of Morocco to Spain highlighted the “excellent relations of brotherhood” uniting the two Royal Families, assuring that the “distinguished and privileged ties of solid friendship and mutual esteem between HM the King and King Felipe VI strongly contribute to the consolidation of a unique and exemplary relationship.
Thus, argued Ms. Benyaich, the High Level Meeting between the two countries, which has not taken place since 2015, will undoubtedly constitute an exceptional meeting which will imbue a new dynamic in bilateral relations and will reflect the determination to build a mutually beneficial strategic partnership, under the enlightened leadership of His Majesty King Mohammed VI and King Felipe VI of Spain.
This meeting, she added, is only the concretization of the firm will of the two countries to take an unprecedented step in bilateral relations, on the basis of a clear and ambitious roadmap responding to the aspirations of both friendly peoples.
In this context, the leaders of the two countries are looking into the implementation of concrete actions within the framework of this roadmap encompassing all areas of the partnership and integrating all issues of common interest, in a climate of trust and transparency, said Ms. Benyaich, recalling that, since last April, all the working groups have held regular meetings to put in place the provisions of the new bilateral roadmap.
As a result, the High-Level Meeting in Rabat will reflect this positive state of mind and oriented towards respect for the commitments that drive the Moroccan-Spanish relationship today, Ms. Benyaich concluded.
This article is originally published on mapexpress.ma
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