One Dead, Multiple Injuries In New Orleans Hotel Collapse

 

One person died and at least 18 others were injured Saturday when the top floors of a New Orleans hotel that was under construction collapsed, officials said.

The New Orleans fire department received reports at 9:12am local time that the Hard Rock Hotel in downtown New Orleans had collapsed.

One person died at the scene, according to Fire Chief Timothy McConnell, who added that the building is now structurally unstable.

“Another collapse is possible,” he told reporters at the construction site.

Firefighters evacuated construction workers inside the hotel after the “upper six to eight” floors collapsed, McConnell said.

Emergency medical services director Emily Nichols said that first responders evaluated 19 people at the scene, 18 of whom were transported to hospitals and are in stable condition.

The last person refused transport.

Three people are still missing, and there are no reports of injury to passers-by.

Due to the hotel’s unstable structure, the operation to clear the area is ongoing, according to local Homeland Security office director Collin Arnold.

He asked that people stay away from the area and refrain from using drones for either personal or media purposes to view the damage.

The fire department is working to evacuate nearby buildings, particularly apartment complexes.

AFP

Trump Declares State Of Emergency As Storm Bears Down On New Orleans

 

US President Donald Trump has declared a state of emergency as Tropical Storm Barry bears down on New Orleans, as the southern city braces for extreme winds over the weekend.

The weather system is expected to reach hurricane strength Friday or early Saturday when it nears Louisiana’s coast, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), and has already caused major flooding in the low-lying city.

Trump on Thursday issued a national disaster declaration, which will allow federal agencies to participate in emergency relief efforts, in response to a request by Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards.

“Thank you President Trump for quickly responding to my request… We appreciate the support of the White House and our federal partners as we continue our unprecedented flood fight,” the governor said in a tweet Thursday.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) separately announced that it would temporarily halt immigration enforcement activity in areas subject to the state of emergency.

It said that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency would not target migrant families who were evacuating during the storm, ahead of sweeping operations nationwide to detain and deport illegal immigrants expected to start this weekend.

“Our highest priority remains the preservation of life and safety. In consideration of these circumstances, there will be no immigration enforcement initiatives associated with evacuations or sheltering related to the storm, except in the event of a serious public safety threat,” the agency said in a Thursday press release.

The incoming storm has evoked memories of Hurricane Katrina, the costliest and deadliest hurricane in US history, which submerged about 80 percent of New Orleans as the city’s flood defenses gave way.

Katrina also pounded other parts of Louisiana as well as Mississippi and Alabama, leading to about 1,800 deaths and more than $150 billion in damage.

AFP

Three Killed, Seven Wounded In Fresh US Shooting

 

Police were searching Sunday for two gunmen who opened fire on a crowd outside a New Orleans bar, killing three people and wounding seven others.

Police said they responded to reports of a shooting late Saturday at a “daiquiri shop” about three miles from the southern US city’s famed French Quarter.

Detectives “determined that two unknown armed subjects believed to be wearing hooded sweatshirts allegedly approached a group of people standing outside of a business and opened fire, striking 10 of the individuals,” then fled, a police statement said.

Police superintendent Michael Harrison, speaking to reporters overnight at the scene of the crime, said one of the suspects was believed to be armed with a rifle, while the other carried a handgun.

“We believe they actually stood over one of the individuals and fired multiple rounds and then after that fled,” Harrison told local media.

“This has to be personal,” he said.

“Firing indiscriminately into a crowd? Shooting 10 people? Killing three? That’s personal, it doesn’t get more personal and we take it personally,” he said. “Whoever did this, you should know that the law enforcement takes it personally and we’re coming for you.”

The victims — two males and a female — “were pronounced dead at the scene,” police spokesman Aaron Looney said a statement.

Seven additional gunshot victims — five males and two females — were rushed to area hospitals either in private vehicles or aboard ambulances.

The local NBC affiliate said that one of the victims believed to be in critical condition underwent surgery.

The motive for the shooting was unknown.

“We will find that out during the investigation,” Harrison said. “It was very intentional but we don’t know right now that its gang related.”

AFP

British Born Nigerian Actor, Ejiofor Bags Oscar ‘Best Actor’ Nomination

Film industry in the United States is counting down to the Oscars coming up in March, and the nominations are out.

Con drama, ‘American Hustle’, and space movie, ‘Gravity’, have received 10 nominations.

Stars of ‘American Hustle’, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence have been shortlisted in four categories, so are Director, Alfonso Cuaron and Sandra Bullocks in ‘Gravity’.

Making the list is ’12 Years A Slave’, which has nine nominations, including Best Director and Best Picture.

Stars from the movie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Micheal Fassbender and Lupita Nyong’o, have also been nominated for Best Actor, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress.

Ejiofor has been nominated for his performance as Solomon Northup in Steve McQueen’s harrowing drama. The actor plays Northup, a black New Yorker who is kidnapped and sold to a New Orleans plantation, run by Best Supporting Actor nominee, Michael Fassbender.

Should he win the ‘Best Actor’ at the Oscar, Ejiofor who is of Nigerian origin, would be the first black British actor to receive the accolade.

The winners will be announced at the Oscars ceremony on Sunday, March 2, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

Police Identify Suspect In New Orleans Shooting

New Orleans police on Monday identified a suspect in connection with a shooting at a Mother’s Day parade that injured 19 people, including two children, as residents expressed outrage over the violence.

Police said the suspect, 19-year-old Akein Scott, remained at large but had been identified by multiple people.

“The time has come for him to turn himself in,” New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said.

Serpas said Scott was last arrested in March and has a criminal history that includes charges for possessing narcotics and a firearm and resisting arrest. Police investigated three addresses linked to Scott but could not find him, Serpas said.

Earlier on Monday police released photos that they said showed a suspect in the shooting, which led to tips that helped with the identification.

“People today chose to be on the side of young, innocent children who were shot, and not on the side of a coward who shot into a crowd,” Serpas said.

The image singling out the suspect did not clearly show a face, and police, who released the photographs on YouTube, asked for the public’s help in identifying and finding the person. A $10,000 reward was offered for information that might help find the shooter.

The photographs, taken from a surveillance video, first show crowds of people in a street, and then the crowd is seen scattering and ducking. The final image focuses on what appears to be a man in a white shirt leaving the scene on foot as other people are lying on the pavement.

Ten men, seven women and a girl and a boy, both 10 years old, were shot when one or more people opened fire at the parade on Sunday. The children were grazed but in good condition, police said.

Serpas earlier on Monday said he had not ruled out that the shooting was gang-related or that there was more than one shooter.

Violent crime in New Orleans ranks above the national average in FBI surveys. A poll of residents in 2010 found crime to be their greatest concern.

Residents gathered Monday evening with religious leaders and Mayor Mitch Landrieu at the site of the shooting to voice their anger and discuss solutions for cutting crime.

“To all the young people who are committing the violence… I don’t understand why jail is such a cool place to be. You’re a coward,” said Jessica Strange, a social worker.

Many of the people at the outdoor meeting had also attended the parade, which the sponsoring neighborhood club said it hoped to hold again in June depending on permits.

“We all came out here to basically reclaim this spot and to say what happened yesterday on this spot does not reflect what the people of New Orleans are or what we are about,” Landrieu said.

“Yesterday was a symbol of a much, much deeper problem … and the people of New Orleans are here today to say it’s unacceptable and has to stop,” the mayor said. “Nobody out there is at fault but everybody is responsible.”

Nineteen Shot In New Orleans Mother’s Day Parade

Nineteen people including two children were shot in New Orleans on Sunday when gunfire erupted at a Mother’s Day parade, and city police said they were searching for three suspects.

Ten men, seven women, a girl and a boy both age 10 were hit when wild gunfire opened up at about 1:45 p.m. as the parade marched along North Villere Street, according to police spokesman Garry Flot.

Two victims are undergoing surgery, Flot said in a statement. The children were grazed and are in good condition, he said. It was unclear if the victims were marching or bystanders watching the parade.

Police superintendent Ronal Serpas told reporters that officers saw three suspects running away, with one about age 18 to 22. No arrests were made.

“It appears that these two or three people, for reasons unknown to us, started shooting at, towards or in the crowd,” Serpas said, adding that the incident was over in “just a couple of seconds.”

Serpas said a witness reported hearing two different types of gunshot, which he said indicated two weapons were involved.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu called the shooting part of “the relentless drum beat of violence” on the streets of New Orleans.

“It’s a culture of violence that has enveloped the city for a long, long period of time,” Landrieu told a news conference outside University Hospital, where three victims were being treated for serious injuries.

Photographs of the aftermath in the Times-Picayune newspaper showed a man lying on his stomach beside a pool of blood, being helped by two bystanders. Other photos showed a man in shorts sitting on a cobbled street, his calf bleeding and covered with a bandana.

Emergency medical responders took 11 people to Interim LSU Public Hospital in New Orleans, according to hospital spokesman Marvin McGraw

Violent crime in New Orleans ranks above the national average in FBI surveys. A poll of city residents in 2010 found crime to be their greatest concern.

In February, four people were wounded in a shooting outside a nightclub in the city’s French Quarter as crowds gathered for Mardi Gras celebrations.

Obama declares state of emergency on areas affected by storm

The president of the United States, Barack Obama, has declared a state of emergency in Louisiana, following the Storm Isaac that threatened to hit the area.

According to the BBC reports, Isaac is heading for New Orleans, possibly as early as Tuesday night, nearly seven years to the day after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city.

Isaac killed at least 24 people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

The storm also caused flooding and damage in the Caribbean.

Late on Monday, the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) warned Isaac could reach category two strength, with top winds of 100mph (160km/h). The forecast was revised up from category one.

President Obama approved Louisiana’s request for a federal disaster declaration, making available federal funds for recovery activities such as clearing debris.

The governors of Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi and Alabama declared emergencies in their states.

The Republican governors of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi have cancelled their trips to their party’s convention to focus on disaster prevention efforts.

The weather officials warned that Isaac is already a large storm and could bring significant damage to areas within hundreds of miles of its center.

The NHC said that at 20:00 EDT (20:00 GMT) on Monday, Isaac was centered about 230 miles (370km) south-east of the mouth of the Mississippi river, with maximum sustained wind speeds of 70mph (110km/h).

The storm is moving forward at about 10mph and storm winds extend out about 205 miles from the center.

The NHC warned that wind speeds could reach between 96-110mph before the storm makes landfall.

Evacuations have already been ordered for some low-lying Louisiana parishes and parts of coastal Alabama.

Wednesday will be the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which strengthened in the Gulf to a category five storm, before weakening to category three by the time it reached New Orleans.

Federal officials said the levees around New Orleans are now equipped to handle storms stronger than Isaac.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate, “It’s a much more robust system than what it was when Katrina came ashore,”

Fugate also said that Isaac was not just a New Orleans storm.

“This is a Gulf Coast storm. Some of the heaviest impact may be in Alabama and Mississippi,” he said.

Vehicles were left at New Orleans on the highway heading west for Baton Rouge on Monday, as people made their way to higher ground.

A hurricane warning is already in effect for some 300 miles of the Gulf Coast in four states from Louisiana to Florida, with lower-level warnings issued for many areas along Florida’s west coast.

Governor Rick Scott of Florida said 60,000 people were already without power as a result of the storm.