In brief: Scores missing after flash flood
BRISBANE, Australia – Rescuers raced today to reach people trapped on roofs after a flash flood hurled a tsunami-like wall of water through Australia’s waterlogged east, tossing cars like toys, killing at least eight people and leaving 72 missing.
The violent surge near the town of Toowoomba after a fresh storm Monday escalated Australia’s 2-week-old flood crisis in Queensland state and brought the overall death toll to 18.
Emergency services officers plucked more than 40 people from houses isolated overnight by the torrent that hit the Lockyer Valley on Monday. But storms hampered efforts to send helicopters to help people still in danger today.
Biden arrives in Afghanistan
KABUL, Afghanistan – Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Afghanistan on Monday for a series of meetings meant to gauge the progress toward a drawdown of U.S. forces later this year and an eventual handoff of security responsibilities to the Afghans.
Biden will meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai today and also will tour an Afghan national army training center, according to Obama administration officials.
The trip, unannounced for safety reasons, is Biden’s first visit to the war zone since becoming vice president.
The visit comes at a time administration officials described as a “pivot point” in U.S. policy in Afghanistan.
“We moved from a (troop) surge last year to the transition to Afghan lead that we’ll be starting this year and concluding in 2014,” a senior Obama administration official told reporters.
Contractor overseer quits
WASHINGTON – The embattled top watchdog of U.S. contracting in Afghanistan announced Monday that he’s resigning days after vowing to resist congressional demands to step down.
Arnold Fields, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, offered no explanation for his decision. His resignation becomes official at the beginning of next month.