Updated 11:43am EST on May 21, 2013:
“Death toll lowered.”
NEW: Authorities revise death toll downward to 24, including nine children
At least 91 people died, including 20 children, after massive tornado hit near Oklahoma City. The death toll is expected to rise.
The Oklahoma state medical examiner’s office said Monday evening that 51 people had so far been confirmed killed in the tornado that tore through the city of Moore.
The monstrous tornado at least a half-mile wide roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs, flattening entire neighborhoods with winds up to 200 mph
Hysterical parents converged Monday at an elementary school wrecked by the tornado that tore through Moore, Okla., desperate to learn if their children survived.
Crews were still trying to track down students in kindergarten through third grade, including dozens of children who had been sheltering in a hallway at Plaza Towers Elementary School, according a reporter for NBC station KFOR.
Shawnee, Oklahoma (CNN) — A powerful tornado blasted an area outside of Oklahoma City on Monday, ripping roofs off buildings, leveling homes and leaving a massive band of destruction in its wake.
In the desperate seconds and minutes after the storm passed, the human toll was yet to even begin to be counted.
Survivors emerged from shelters to see an apocalyptic vision — the remnants of cars twisted and piled on each other to make what had been a parking lot look like a junk yard. Bright orange flames roaring from a structure that was blazing even as rain continued to fall.
At least one school was in the tornado’s devastation zone in Moore, Oklahoma. Lance West, a reporter for CNN affiliate KFOR, says there were people pulling students from a classroom at an elementary school heavily damaged by the tornado. There were no immediate reports on the condition of the children.
“Our worst fears are becoming realized this afternoon,” Bill Bunting, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center, told CNN.
AFP, Beirut -
More than 94,000 people have been killed in more than two years of conflict in Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a newly-revised toll on Tuesday.
The watchdog group said it revised the toll — just two days after it announced a tally of 82,257 dead — after receiving new information from regime-controlled Alawite areas of the Sunni-majority country.
“Based on this information, the number of martyrs and dead killed since the beginning of the Syrian revolution is more than 94,000,” it said in a statement.
The group said it had received new figures from areas including Tartus and Latakia — strongholds on the Mediterranean coast of the Alawite minority to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs.
The information showed “that the number of casualties among the ranks of the Alawite community was much higher than the Observatory’s statistics which were published two days ago.”
On Sunday, the Britain-based watchdog which relies on a vast network of activists and medics on the ground put the death toll since the March 2011 start of the anti-regime uprising at 82,257, including 34,473 civilians.
Savar, Bangladesh (CNN) –
Across from the detritus of Bangladesh’s deadliest industrial disaster, up four flights of narrow stairs and inside the makeshift offices of the recovery operations, stands a dry erase board that marks, in neat black handwriting, each life a nine-story building claimed when it pancaked to the ground last month.
On some days, as rescue workers pulled body after body from the mountain of steel and concrete, the number would spiral past 100.
On Monday, it settled at zero.
And so, after 20 days of non-stop digging, the army-led effort to pull out every last body from the ruins of Rana Plaza in the Dhaka suburb of Savar came to an end.
“We said we wouldn’t stop until there were no more victims, and we didn’t,” said army Capt. Ibrahim Islam. “We are confident we have found them all.”
In a Sunday talk show appearance, Issa said he would seek sworn testimony from veteran diplomat Thomas Pickering and retired Adm. Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The two conducted an independent investigation of the Sept. 11 attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Their report was highly critical of the State Department’s handling of at the U.S. outpost. Pickering, who also appeared on the Sunday shows, defended his scathing assessment but absolved former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“We knew where the responsibility rested,” said Pickering, whose career working for Republican and Democratic administrations, spans four decades.
Issa said he wants to know with whom the pair spoke to reach their conclusions about Clinton. Cummings suggested that they testify in public before the committee on May 22.
“This is a failure, it needs to be investigated. Our committee can investigate. Now, Ambassador Pickering, his people and he refused to come before our committee,” Issa said Sunday.
Pickering, sitting next to Issa during an appearance on one Sunday show, disputed the chairman’s account and said that he was willing to testify before the committee.
“That is not true,” said the former top diplomat, referring to Issa’s claim that he refused to appear before the committee.
In a separate interview, Pickering said he asked, via the White House, to appear at last Wednesday’s hearing by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in which three State Department officials testified. He said he could have answered many of the questions lawmakers raised, such as whether U.S. military forces could have saved Americans had they dispatched F-16 jet fighters to the consulate, some 1,600 miles away from the nearest likely launching point.
“Mike Mullen, who was part of this report and indeed worked very closely with all of us and shared many of the responsibilities directly with me, made it very clear that his view as a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that there were nothing within range that could have made a difference,” Pickering said.
By Ece Toksabay
ISTANBUL | Sat May 11, 2013 11:01am EDT
(Reuters) – Twin car bombs killed at least 20 people near Turkey’s border with Syria on Saturday, increasing fears that Syria’s civil war was dragging in neighbors and drawing a swift warning from Ankara not to test its resolve.
Turkey supports the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said it was no coincidence the attacks in the town of Reyhanli came as diplomatic moves to end the conflict intensify.
“There may be those who want to sabotage Turkey’s peace, but we will not allow that,” Davutoglu told reporters during a trip to Berlin. “No-one should attempt to test Turkey’s power, our security forces will take all necessary measures.”
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
NATO member Turkey has been one of Assad’s harshest critics and has harbored both Syrian refugees and rebels during the uprising against him, now in its third year.
Prospects appeared to improve this week for diplomacy over the civil war, in which more than 70,000 people have been killed, after Moscow and Washington announced a joint effort to bring government and rebels to an international conference.
But a Russian official said on Saturday that there was already disagreement over who would represent the opposition and he doubted whether a meeting could happen this month.
PARACHINAR, Pakistan—A pair of bombings in northwest Pakistan targeting individuals involved in this week’s national elections killed 17 people on Tuesday, police said, taking the death toll from attacks on candidates and party workers to over 100 since the beginning of April.
North Korea has removed two missiles from a launch site on the east coast, indicating a lowering of tension on the peninsula, a US official said.
Pyongyang reportedly made preparations for a missile launch last month.
It had threatened nuclear strikes and attacks on specific targets in the US and South Korea.
The missiles had been ready to launch at any moment but North Korea had now “moved them”, a unnamed US defence official told AFP news agency.
Regional tensions escalated following Pyongyang’s third nuclear test in February.
The North had been angered by fresh UN sanctions and wide-ranging annual US-South Korea military drills, which were completed a week ago.
The deputy of slain U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens has told congressional investigators that a team of Special Forces prepared to fly from Tripoli to Benghazi during the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks was forbidden from doing so by U.S. Special Operations Command South Africa.
The account from Gregory Hicks is in stark contrast to assertions from the Obama administration, which insisted that nobody was ever told to stand down and that all available resources were utilized. Hicks gave private testimony to congressional investigators last month in advance of his upcoming appearance at a congressional hearing Wednesday.
According to excerpts released Monday, Hicks told investigators that SOCAFRICA commander Lt. Col. Gibson and his team were on their way to board a C-130 from Tripoli for Benghazi prior to an attack on a second U.S. compound “when [Col. Gibson] got a phone call from SOCAFRICA which said, ‘you can’t go now, you don’t have the authority to go now.’ And so they missed the flight … They were told not to board the flight, so they missed it.”
No assistance arrived from the U.S. military outside of Libya during the hours that Americans were under attack or trapped inside compounds by hostile forces armed with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and AK-47 rifles.
United Nations human rights investigators said Sunday they have gathered testimony from outside Syria suggesting rebels, not Bashar Assad’s regime, may have used chemical weapons.
“Our investigators have been in neighboring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals and, according to their report of last week which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated,” Carla Del Ponte, a member of the independent commission of inquiry on Syria, told Swiss-Italian television. “This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities.”
The allegations will likely make it harder for the Obama administration to justify taking a more active role in the two-year-old civil war on the side of the opposition. The administration has said in recent days that chemical weapons appeared to have been used in Syria, which would violate the “red line” Obama set for Assad’s forces.
The Syrian government has denied using chemical weapons and initially invited UN inspectors to probe a March attack in the village of Khan al-Asal near Aleppo, saying rebels used chemical weapons in that incident. The regime has refused to allow the inspectors to enter the country, however, after France and Britain demanded that they be allowed to investigate other reported sites of chemical weapons use, notably in the village of Ataybah near Damascus on March 19 and in Homs last December.
AFP, Cairo -
An angry Egyptian mob has lynched the teenage son of a Muslim Brotherhood leader, accusing him of killing a man over Facebook comments critical of the Islamist movement, said security sources on Saturday.
The violence that took place on Thursday in the Nile Delta was the latest in a spate of vigilante killings in the region amid growing lawlessness since the 2011 revolution that toppled former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Yussef Rabie Abdessalam, 16, pulled out a gun and opened fire indiscriminately, killing a passerby and wounding another after a heated argument with a man who had openly criticized the influential Brotherhood on the Internet, sources said.
His action sparked fury in Qattawiya, a village in the Nile Delta province of Sharqiya, where Abdessalam’s father, Rabie Abdessalam, is an official at the local branch of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood from which President Mohamed Mursi hails.