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Tropical Storm Erika hit the island of Dominica, in the eastern Caribbean, killing at least 20 people.

The storm caused floods and mudslides that have set the country back 20 years, Dominica’s PM Roosevelt Skerrit said.

Haiti and the Dominican Republic are now expecting 53mph winds.

A state of emergency has been declared in Florida, where the storm is expected on August 30.

PM Roosevelt Skerrit said in a televised address on August 28 that hundreds of homes, bridges and roads had been destroyed.

Photo AP

Photo AP

He said: “It is with heavy heart that I address you, you can well imagine the hell that it has been for me since I heard of the passing of Tropical Storm Erika and the damage it has done to our dear people and beloved country. But we all have to pull ourselves together.

“The extent of the devastation is monumental. We have, in essence, to rebuild Dominica.”

Erika dumped 15in of rain.

At least 31 people on the island of 72,000 people have been reported missing, according to officials with the Barbados-based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency.

Other Caribbean nations have issued tropical storm warnings.

In Puerto Rico, Erika knocked out power to more than 200,000 people and caused more than $16 million of damage to crops including plantain, bananas and coffee, AP reported.

The US National Hurricane Centre said the system was expected to move north across the island of Hispaniola – shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic – where the high mountains would weaken it to a tropical depression on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency as a precaution with officials urging people to prepare by stockpiling food and water and fuelling their vehicles.

Separately, in the Pacific Ocean, Hurricane Ignacio strengthened into a hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 90mph, centered south-east of Hilo in Hawaii, and moving north-west.

Typhoon Haiyan has hit the central Philippines with sustained winds of 146 mph.

Meteorologists say that if initial estimates based on satellite images are borne out, it could be the most powerful storm ever to make landfall.

The storm has forced millions in vulnerable areas to seek shelter across 20 provinces, officials say.

The region was already struggling to recover from a powerful earthquake last month.

The authorities have warned that more than 12 million people are at risk from the category-five storm, including in Cebu, the country’s second largest city with a population of 2.5 million.

The storm – known locally as Yolanda – was not expected to directly hit the capital Manila, further north.

Schools and offices closed, while ferry services and local flights were suspended. Hospitals and soldiers are on stand-by for rescue and relief operations.

The extent of the damage remains unclear, with authorities saying phone-lines are down in many areas.

The governor of the Southern Leyte province, Roger Mercado, tweeted on Friday morning that fallen trees were blocking roads, hampering the emergency effort.

A spokesperson for the British Red Cross, Nichola Jones, who is in Tagbilaran in Bohol, says the typhoon passed by in the past hour.

Typhoon Haiyan has hit the central Philippines with sustained winds of 146 mph

Typhoon Haiyan has hit the central Philippines with sustained winds of 146 mph

“We’ve lost power and a few roof-tiles but it’s not too bad. But I think to the North – that’s the area that has borne the brunt. Those were the areas worst hit by the earthquake last month.”

In the worst-hit areas of Samar and Leyte, she says there are reports of collapsed buildings, including a hotel.

“In Cebu they have had quite a battering and I spoke to our colleagues and they’ve had quite strong winds and are locked down in their hotels. They are waiting to see what the situation is.”

Jeff Masters, meteorology director at the private firm Weather Underground, said in a blog post that the damage from Haiyan’s winds must have been “perhaps the greatest wind damage any city on Earth has endured from a tropical cyclone in the past century”.

State meteorologist Romeo Cajulis told AFP news agency Typhoon Haiyan had made landfall over Guiuan at 04:40.

The typhoon arrived with gusts of up to 170 mph, the Philippines’ weather service said in its bulletin, issued at 05:00 local time.

The US Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Centre, which typically gives higher readings as they are based on a shorter period of time, said shortly before Haiyan’s landfall that its maximum sustained winds were 195 mph, with gusts up to 235 mph.

Waves as high as 15ft could be seen from the islands of Leyte and Samar, Reuters news agency reported.

The storm is forecast to move over to the South China Sea north of Palawan Island on Saturday, meteorologists say.

In its path are areas already struggling to recover from a 7.3-magnitude earthquake last month, including the worst-hit island of Bohol.

About 5,000 people are still living in tents in Bohol after losing their homes in the quake, which killed more than 200 people.

Earlier, President Benigno Aquino warned people to leave storm-prone areas and urged seafarers to stay in port.

“No typhoon can bring Filipinos to their knees if we’ll be united,” he said in a televised address.

Meteorologists in the Philippines warned that Haiyan could be as devastating as Typhoon Bopha in 2012.

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American company Princess Cruises says it deeply regrets that one of its ships failed to stop to help a fishing boat adrift in the Pacific Ocean.

Two of the three Panamanians on board the disabled vessel later died.

Princess Cruises said that although passengers on the cruise ship had spotted the castaways and alerted staff, the captain had not been told.

The one surviving fisherman – Adrian Vasquez, 18 – was later rescued after 28 days at sea.

Adrian Vasquez had reported that – after 16 days adrift – he and his companions saw a cruise ship sailing past, despite desperate attempts to flag it down.

Three birdwatchers on board the cruise ship – the Star Princess – said they had spotted the fishermen waving for help and told ship staff, but had been unable to persuade them to change course.

Princess Cruises says it deeply regrets that Star Princess ship failed to stop to help a fishing boat adrift in the Pacific Ocean

Princess Cruises says it deeply regrets that Star Princess ship failed to stop to help a fishing boat adrift in the Pacific Ocean

In a statement, Princess Cruises said a preliminary investigation had found that there appeared to have been a “breakdown in communication” in relaying the passengers’ concern.

It said Captain Edward Perrin and the officer of the watch were not notified.

“Understandably, Captain Perrin is devastated that he is being accused of knowingly turning his back on people in distress,” the statement said.

“Had the captain received this information, he would have had the opportunity to respond.”

Princess Cruises added that it understood its responsibility under the law of the sea to help any vessel in distress, and said its ships had been involved in more than 30 rescues over the past decade.

It said the investigation was continuing.

Adrian Vasquez was eventually rescued 1,000 km (620 miles) off the mainland, near the Galapagos Islands.

He said he survived after his friends died thanks to a sudden rainstorm that replenished his drinking water supplies.

Adrian Vasquez told the Associated Press he still felt anger at the ship he saw sail past two weeks before his rescue.

“I said <<God will not forgive them>>,” he said.


Russian Phobos-Grunt Mars probe that’s been stuck in Earth orbit for two months has crashed down in the Pacific Ocean on late Sunday.

“Phobos-Grunt fragments have crashed down in the Pacific Ocean,” Russia’s Defense Ministry official Alexei Zolotukhin told RIA Novosti, adding that the fragments fell in 1,250 kilometers to the west of the island of Wellington.

The spacecraft fell at about 21:45 on Sunday Moscow time (17:45 GMT).

As of 20.15 Sunday, the spacecraft was moving in the near-Earth orbit with an altitude that varied between 113.8 km at perigee and 133.2 km at apogee, the Russian space agency Roscosmos said.

Russian Phobos-Grunt Mars probe that's been stuck in Earth orbit for two months has crashed down in the Pacific Ocean on late Sunday

Russian Phobos-Grunt Mars probe that's been stuck in Earth orbit for two months has crashed down in the Pacific Ocean on late Sunday

Phobos-Grunt, launched on November 9, was designed to bring back rock and soil samples from the Martian moon Phobos. However, it has been stuck in a so-called support orbit since its engines failed to put it on course for the Red Planet.

The head of Roscosmos, Vladimir Popovkin, previously said the probe would break up during reentry into the atmosphere and none of the fragments are likely to reach the Earth.

That includes the 13.5-tonne spacecraft’s 7.5 tons of fuel, which are stored in aluminum tanks that are bound to explode upon reentry.

According to NASA, Russia has failed in all 17 of its attempts to study the Red Planet close-up since 1960. The most recent failure before last month occurred in 1996, when Russia lost its Mars-96 orbiter during launch.