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Heavy rains swamp Northeast again as flash flooding claims at least 5 lives in Pennsylvania

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Heavy rains swamp Northeast again as flash flooding claims at least 5 lives in Pennsylvania

WASHINGTON CROSSING, Pa. (AP) — Heavy rains pounded an already saturated Northeast on Sunday for the second time in a week, spurring another round of flash flooding, cancelled airline flights and power outages. In Pennsylvania, a sudden flash flood late Saturday afternoon claimed at least five lives.

Officials in Bucks County’s Upper Makefield Township in Pennsylvania said torrential rains occurred around 5:30 p.m. Saturday in the Washington Crossing area, sweeping away several cars. At least five people died and two children, a 9-month-old boy and his 2-year-old sister, remained missing, authorities said.

Other parts of the East Coast were experiencing heavy rain, including Vermont. Authorities there said landslides could become a problem as the state copes with more rain following days of flooding.

“Remain vigilant and be prepared,” Vermont Gov. Phil Scott said.

Sunday’s strong storms led to hundreds of flight cancellations at airports in the New York City area, according to the tracking service FlightAware. More than 350 flights were canceled at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey alone, while more than 280 flights were canceled at Kennedy International Airport in New York. Hundreds of flights were delayed.

The National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings and tornado watches for parts of Connecticut, western Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. A tornado warning was issued for an area along the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border.

Thousands of power outages also were reported.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul urged people to stay home Sunday until the storms passed.

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“Here comes the rain. It just seems unrelenting this year,” she said. “You have to avoid unnecessary travel. … A flash flood doesn’t give you warning … and in those moments your car can go from a place of safety to a place of death.”

Hochul said 5 inches (13 centimeters) of rain fell within two hours in Suffolk County on Long Island. The state saw $50 million in damages from storms in the past week. Disaster declarations will cover more than a dozen New York counties.

Manchester, New Hampshire, the largest city in northern New England, opened its emergency operations center in response to severe weather. Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig and other officials urged residents to stay inside.

Flooding forced Tweed-New Haven Airport in Connecticut to close Sunday. The small airport, which offers daily commercial flights from one carrier, Avelo Airlines, said in a Twitter post that the terminal was closed until further notice. Several flights were delayed.

Flash flooding was reported in New Haven, Hartford, Waterbury and other Connecticut towns, leaving many roads impassible. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said he was headed to Bristol, home of ESPN, to view flooding.

In northern New Jersey, some roads were closed Sunday as crews worked to repair stretches of concrete that buckled under heavy rain and flooding. Local creeks washed over passageways and a rockslide blocked Route 46. Thoroughfares were a mess of water and rocks covered in brown sludge.

In Pennsylvania, a sudden, torrential downpour turned deadly in Upper Makefield Township.

Fire Chief Tim Brewer told reporters the area got about 6 1/2 to 7 inches of rain (about 18 centimeters) in 45 minutes.

“In my 44 years, I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said. “When the water came up, it came up very swiftly.”

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About 4 to 5 feet of water washed over the road and three of an estimated 11 cars were swept away. All three were later recovered and no one was found inside, Brewer said. Eight people were rescued from the cars and two from the creek, he said.

The two children who remained missing Sunday are part of a Charleston, South Carolina, family visiting family and friends. They were on their way to a barbecue when their vehicle got stuck in the flash flood, Brewer said.

 

 

 

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a fallen tree blocks a road amid the passage of Typhoon Talim in Qinzhou in southern China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Tuesday, July 18, 2023. (Hu Xingyu/Xinhua via AP)

Typhoon Talim has skidded across coastal southern China, toppling trees and signboards before weakening to a tropical storm.

 

 

 

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FILE - A rescue worker with a dog searches for people at the site of a landslide caused by heavy rain in Yecheon, South Korea, July 16, 2023. Scientists say increasingly frequent and intense storms could unleash more rainfall in the future as the atmosphere warms and holds more moisture. (Yun Kwan-shick/Yonhap via AP, File)

Extreme rainfall accompanied by deadly flooding hit the United States and several other countries, causing submerged and damaged roads and other destruction that has raised concerns about growing impacts of climate change.

 

 

 

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, fourth from left, looks around a flood damaged area in Yecheon, South Korea, Monday, July 17, 2023. (Jin Sung-chul/Yonhap via AP)

Heavy downpours are lashing South Korea for a ninth day as rescue workers struggle to search for survivors in landslides, buckled homes and swamped vehicles in the most destructive storm to hit the country this year.

 

 

 

In this photo provided by South Korea National Fire Agency, rescuers search for survivors along a road submerged by floodwaters leading to an underground tunnel in Cheongju, South Korea, Sunday, July 16, 2023. Days of heavy rain triggered flash floods and landslides and destroyed homes, leaving scores of people dead and forcing thousands to evacuate, officials said Sunday.(South Korea National Fire Agency via AP)

South Korean rescuers have pulled nine bodies from a flooded tunnel where around 15 vehicles were trapped in muddy water, as days of heavy rain triggered flash floods and landslides and destroyed homes across the country.

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“As they tried to escape the fierce floodwaters, Dad took his 4-year-old son while the mother and the grandmother grabbed the two additional children, aged 9 months and 2 years,” he said. The father and son were “miraculously” able to get to safety. “However the grandmother, the mother, and the two children were swept away by the floodwaters,” Brewer said. The mother was among those later found dead.

“We continue to look for the two children. We are not going to give up,” Brewer said.

About 150 people were searching the creek during the night and 100 were involved Sunday. Brewer said earlier that officials were treating the effort as a rescue “but we are fairly certain we are in a recovery mode at this time.”

Gov. Josh Shapiro vowed aid from state emergency and transportation officials.

“All hands are on deck,” Shapiro said.

In North Carolina, floodwaters were blamed for the death of a 49-year-old woman whose car was swept off a road in Alexander County late Saturday night. A man who was in the car with her was rescued.

And as far south as Miami, soccer fans sought shelter from a torrential downpour as they waited for an event presenting international superstar Lionel Messi one day after the team signed him through the 2025.

Meanwhile, recovery efforts were underway in Vermont from recent days of heavy precipitation.

The Vermont Agency of Transportation said 12 state roads remained closed while 12 were partially open to one lane of traffic and 87 have been reopened that were previously closed.

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The agency said 211 bridge inspections have been completed this week in damaged areas and there are four state bridges closed and four town structures closed.

Rail lines throughout Vermont were also damaged, the transportation agency said. The agency said it reopened 57 miles (92 kilometers) of rail lines, and 64 miles of rail line remained closed.

“Our crews have been working tirelessly all week to repair the damaged state roads and bridges, and to restore the state’s transportation infrastructure for Vermonters and visitors,” Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn said.

Heavy precipitation was not the only extreme weather plaguing the U.S. A scorching heat wave across the Southwest has put roughly one-third of Americans under some type of heat watch or warning. That included brutal temperatures in the hottest place on Earth — Death Valley, which runs along part of central California’s border with Nevada. Las Vegas also faced the possibility of reaching an all-time record temperature Sunday.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency posted air quality alerts for several states stretching from Montana to Ohio on Sunday because of smoke blowing in from Canadian wildfires. Hochul, the New York governor, said she expected air quality alerts to be issued for northern and western parts of New York state Monday because of the wildfires.

“Air Quality alerts are in place for much of the Great Lakes, Midwest, and northern High Plains,” the National Weather Service said. “This is due to the lingering thick concentration of Canadian wildfire smoke over these regions.”

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This story corrects the name of the township to Upper Makefield.

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Associated Press writers Ron Todt in Philadelphia; David Collins in Hartford, Connecticut; Patrick Whittle in Portland, Maine; and Leah Willingham in Charleston, West Virginia; contributed to this report.

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Israel hails ‘success’ after blocking unprecedented attack from Iran

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Israel hails ‘success’ after blocking unprecedented attack from Iran

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israeli leaders on Sunday credited an international military coalition with helping thwart a direct Iranian attack involving hundreds of drones and missiles, calling the coordinated response a starting point for a “strategic alliance” of regional opposition to Tehran.

But Israel’s War Cabinet met without making a decision on next steps, an official said, as a nervous world waited for any sign of further escalation of the former shadow war.

The military coalition, led by the United States, Britain and France and appearing to include a number of Middle Eastern countries, gave Israel support at a time when it finds itself isolated over its war against Hamas in Gaza. The coalition also could serve as a model for regional relations when that war ends.

“This was the first time that such a coalition worked together against the threat of Iran and its proxies in the Middle East,” said the Israeli military spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari.

One unknown is which of Israel’s neighbors participated in the shooting down of the vast majority of about 350 drones and missiles Iran launched. Israeli military officials and a key War Cabinet member noted additional “partners” without naming them. When pressed, White House national security spokesman John Kirby would not name them either.

But one appeared to be Jordan, which described its action as self-defense.

“There was an assessment that there was a real danger of Iranian marches and missiles falling on Jordan, and the armed forces dealt with this danger. And if this danger came from Israel, Jordan would take the same action,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi said in an interview on Al-Mamlaka state television. U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with Jordan’s King Abdullah on Sunday.

The U.S. has long tried to forge a regionwide alliance against Iran as a way of integrating Israel and boosting ties with the Arab world. The effort has included the 2020 Abraham Accords, which established diplomatic relations between Israel and four Arab countries, and having Israel in the U.S. military’s Central Command, which oversees operations in the Middle East and works closely with the armies of moderate Arab states.

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The U.S. had been working to establish full relations between Israel and regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia before the Oct. 7 Hamas attack sparked Israel’s war in Gaza. The war, which has claimed over 33,700 Palestinian lives, has frozen those efforts due to widespread outrage across the Arab world. But it appears that some behind-the-scenes cooperation has continued, and the White House has held out hopes of forging Israel-Saudi ties as part of a postwar plan.

Just ahead of Iran’s attack, the commander of CENTCOM, Gen. Erik Kurilla, visited Israel to map out a strategy.

Israel’s military chief, Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, on Sunday thanked CENTCOM for the joint defensive effort. Both Jordan and Saudi Arabia are under the CENTCOM umbrella. While neither acknowledged involvement in intercepting Iran’s launches, the Israeli military released a map showing missiles traveling through the airspace of both nations.

“Arab countries came to the aid of Israel in stopping the attack because they understand that regional organizing is required against Iran, otherwise they will be next in line,” Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israel’s military intelligence, wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, said he had spoken with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and that the cooperation “highlighted the opportunity to establish an international coalition and strategic alliance to counter the threat posed by Iran.”

The White House signaled that it hopes to build on the partnerships and urged Israel to think twice before striking Iran. U.S. officials said Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Washington would not participate in any offensive action against Iran.

Israel’s War Cabinet met late Sunday to discuss a possible response, but an Israeli official familiar with the talks said no decisions had been made. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing confidential deliberations.

Asked about plans for retaliation, Hagari declined to comment directly. “We are at high readiness in all fronts,” he said.

“We will build a regional coalition and collect the price from Iran, in the way and at the time that suits us,” said a key War Cabinet member, Benny Gantz.

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Iran launched the attack in response to a strike widely blamed on Israel that hit an Iranian consular building in Syria this month and killed two Iranian generals.

By Sunday morning, Iran said the attack was over, and Israel reopened its airspace. Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, claimed Iran had taught Israel a lesson and warned that “any new adventures against the interests of the Iranian nation would be met with a heavier and regretful response from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

The foes have been engaged in a shadow war for years, but Sunday’s assault was the first time Iran launched a direct military assault on Israel, despite decades of enmity dating back to the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iran said it targeted Israeli facilities involved in the Damascus strike, and that it told the White House early Sunday that the operation would be “minimalistic.”

But U.S. officials said Iran’s intent was to “destroy and cause casualties” and that if successful, the strikes would have caused an “uncontrollable” escalation. At one point, at least 100 ballistic missiles were in the air with just minutes of flight time to Israel, the officials said.

Israel said more than 99% of what Iran fired was intercepted, with just a few missiles getting through. An Israeli airbase sustained minor damage.

Israel has over the years established — often with the help of the U.S. — a multilayered air-defense network that includes systems capable of intercepting a variety of threats, including long-range missiles, cruise missiles, drones and short-range rockets.

That system, along with collaboration with the U.S. and others, helped thwart what could have been a far more devastating assault at a time when Israel is already deeply engaged in Gaza as well as low-level fighting on its northern border with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia. Both Hamas and Hezbollah are backed by Iran.

While thwarting the Iranian onslaught could help restore Israel’s image after the Hamas attack in October, what the Middle East’s best-equipped army does next will be closely watched in the region and in Western capitals — especially as Israel seeks to develop the coalition it praised Sunday.

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In Washington, Biden pledged to convene allies to develop a unified response. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. would hold talks with allies. After an urgent meeting, the Group of Seven countries unanimously condemned Iran’s attack and said they stood ready to take “further measures.”

Israel and Iran have been on a collision course throughout Israel’s war in Gaza. In the Oct. 7 attack, militants from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, also backed by Iran, killed 1,200 people in Israel and kidnapped 250 others. Israel’s offensive in Gaza has killed over 33,000 people, according to local health officials.

Hamas welcomed Iran’s attack, saying it was “a natural right and a deserved response” to the strike in Syria. It urged the Iran-backed groups in the region to continue to support Hamas in the war.

Hezbollah also welcomed the attack. Almost immediately after the war in Gaza erupted, Hezbollah began attacking Israel’s northern border. The two sides have been involved in daily exchanges of fire, while Iranian-backed groups in Iraq, Syria and Yemen have launched rockets and missiles toward Israel.

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Federman reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Michelle L. Price in Washington; Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran; Samy Magdy in Cairo; Omar Akour in Amman, Jordan; and Giada Zampano in Rome contributed to this report.

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How to get rid of NYC rats without brutality? Birth control is one idea

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How to get rid of NYC rats without brutality? Birth control is one idea

New York lawmakers are proposing rules to humanely drive down the population of rats and other rodents, eyeing contraception and a ban on glue traps as alternatives to poison or a slow, brutal death.

Politicians have long come up with creative ways to battle the rodents, but some lawmakers are now proposing city and statewide measures to do more.

In New York City, the idea to distribute rat contraceptives got fresh attention in city government Thursday following the death of an escaped zoo owl, known as Flaco, who was found dead with rat poison in his system.

City Council Member Shaun Abreu proposed a city ordinance Thursday that would establish a pilot program for controlling the millions of rats lurking in subway stations and empty lots by using birth control instead of lethal chemicals. Abreu, chair of the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management, said the contraceptives also are more ethical and humane than other methods.

The contraceptive, called ContraPest, is contained in salty, fatty pellets that are scattered in rat-infested areas as bait. It works by targeting ovarian function in female rats and disrupting sperm cell production in males, The New York Times reported.

New York exterminators currently kill rats using snap and glue traps, poisons that make them bleed internally, and carbon monoxide gas that can suffocate them in burrows. Some hobbyists have even trained their dogs to hunt them.

Rashad Edwards, a film and television actor who runs pest management company Scurry Inc. in New York City with his wife, said the best method he has found when dealing with rodents is carbon monoxide.

He tries to use the most humane method possible, and carbon monoxide euthanizes the rats slowly, putting them to sleep and killing them. Edwards avoids using rat poison whenever possible because it is dangerous and torturous to the rodents, he said.

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Some lawmakers in Albany are considering a statewide ban on glue boards under a bill moving through the Legislature. The traps, usually made from a slab of cardboard or plastic coated in a sticky material, can also ensnare small animals that land on its surface.

Edwards opposes a ban on sticky traps, because he uses them on other pests, such as ants, to reduce overall pesticide use. When ants get into a house, he uses sticky traps to figure out where they’re most often passing by. It helps him narrow zones of pesticide use “so that you don’t go spray the entire place.”

“This is not a problem we can kill our way out of,” said Jakob Shaw, a special project manager for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “It’s time to embrace these more common sense and humane methods.”

Two cities in California have passed bans on glue traps in recent years. On the federal level, a bill currently in committee would ban the traps nationwide.

“It ends a really inhumane practice of managing rat populations,” said Jabari Brisport, the New York state senator who represents part of Brooklyn and sponsored the bill proposing the new guidelines. “There are more effective and more humane ways to deal with rats.”

Every generation of New Yorkers has struggled to control rat populations. Mayor Eric Adams hired a “rat czar” last year tasked with battling the detested rodents. Last month, New York City reduced the amount of food served up to rats by mandating all businesses to put trash out in boxes.

While the war on rats has no end in sight, the exterminator Edwards said we can learn a lot from their resilience. The rodents, he said, can never be eradicated, only managed.

“They’re very smart, and they’re very wise,” he said. “It’s very inspiring but just — not in my house.”

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Coachella: Earthquake shakes SoCal desert during music fest

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Coachella: Earthquake shakes SoCal desert during music fest

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A small earthquake shook the Southern California desert Saturday near Coachella, where the famous music festival is being held this weekend. No damage or injuries were reported.

The quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 3.8, hit at 9:08 a.m. about 8 miles (13 kilometers) northeast of Borrego Springs in Riverside County, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The epicenter was about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southeast of Coachella. It struck at a depth of about 7 miles (11 kilometers), the USGS said.

A dispatcher with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said there were no calls reporting any problems from the quake.

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