In brief: Detainee dies of heart attack
MIAMI – A 48-year-old ex-Taliban commander dropped dead of an apparent heart attack after exercising on an elliptical machine inside Guantanamo’s most populous prison camp, the military said Thursday.
The dead man, Awal Gul, had been in U.S. custody since Christmas 2001 and at the prison camps in southeast Cuba for more than eight years. He was designated by the Obama administration as one of 48 “indefinite detainees,” meaning the U.S. would neither repatriate him nor put him on trial.
Gul was working out Tuesday night in a collective cellblock at the cement penitentiary-style building called Camp 6, said Navy Cmdr. Tamsen Reese, a prison camps spokeswoman.
Gul had never been charged with a crime during his more-than-eight-year detention as a suspected base commander for the Taliban.
Rains, flood threat slow storm relief
CAIRNS, Australia – Drenching rain and the threat of flash flooding hampered recovery efforts Friday following one of Australia’s most damaging cyclones, as authorities confirmed the first death from the storm.
Cyclone Yasi was downgraded this morning to less than hurricane strength after traveling almost 500 miles inland since crashing ashore a day earlier along a long stretch of Queensland state’s coast.
The storm destroyed dozens of homes and ripped roofs and walls from dozens more. It cut power supplies in two regional cities and laid waste to hundreds of millions of dollars worth of banana and sugar cane crops.
Police today announced the first death from the cyclone – a 23-year-old man who asphyxiated due to fumes from a diesel-powered generator he was using in a closed room as he sheltered from the storm.
Two other men are missing in Cardwell.
The storm whipped the coast with up to 170 mph winds and sent waves crashing ashore two blocks into seaside communities.
U.S. soldiers join flood rescue
JOLO, Philippines – U.S. troops on a training mission in the Philippines lent their rubber boats today to help thousands of villagers escape waist-deep floodwaters that have inundated a southern island, killing at least two people.
A weeklong downpour culminated in raging flash floods that surged through the streets of Jolo’s coastal provincial capital Thursday night, sweeping away stilt houses and damaging homes, officials and residents said. The floodwaters and sea surges reached 6 feet in some areas, the Red Cross reported.
U.S. troops stationed at Jolo airport, which remained open, joined Philippine marines and civilian volunteers in rubber boats to rescue some of those trapped.
Chinese New Year sparks turn deadly
BEIJING – Chinese state media reports say two people have been killed and more than 220 hurt in Beijing by fireworks set off to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
The official Xinhua New Agency said today that the traditional fireworks frenzy in the capital from late Wednesday through Thursday killed two men who were setting off fireworks and injured 223.