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New tropical storm heads towards rain-soaked Central America

New Orleans ex-cop sentenced in Katrina shooting cover-up
Chicago (AFP) Sept 23, 2010 - A former New Orleans detective who admitted helping to cover-up a police shooting during the chaos following Hurricane Katrina has been sentenced to three years in jail, officials said Thursday. The September 4, 2005 shootings on the Danzinger Bridge left two innocent people dead -- a 17-year-old boy and a 40-year-old mentally ill man who was shot in the back -- and four others seriously wounded. A truck full of police sped to the bridge after receiving reports that an officer was under fire and let loose a hail of bullets without any warnings to people trying to flee the chaos. The police then conspired together to cover up the crime -- even arresting relatives of those who were killed, court documents showed.

The high-profile incident became a flash point for frustrations over the inept handling of the chaos and violence which enveloped the Big Easy after the deadly storm flooded nearly 80 percent of New Orleans. It also brought the New Orleans police department's troubled history of corruption, racism and abuse to the national stage. Jeffrey Lehrmann pleaded guilty in March to concealing a known felony and was sentenced Wednesday, prosecutors said. He admitted to helping falsify reports and plant a gun near the bridge after his supervisor told him an officer on the bridge "shot an innocent man." Five other police officers have previously pleaded guilty in the case, which is being handled by the FBI. Several others have been charged.
by Staff Writers
San Jose (AFP) Sept 23, 2010
Tropical Storm Matthew formed in the southern Caribbean on Thursday, and threatened to strengthen into a hurricane as it headed west over warm water towards Central America.

The region is facing one of the most intense rainy seasons in the last 60 years, with flooding and landslides that have killed more than 300 people and caused serious damage.

Matthew is forecast to make landfall near the Nicaragua-Honduras border late Friday or early Saturday, and authorities are bracing for more flooding as soil across much of Central America is already saturated with water from the season's earlier storms.

At 2100 GMT, the center of Matthew was about 435 miles (700 kilometers) east of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, packing maximum sustained winds of 40 miles (65 kilometers) per hour, with higher gusts, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said.

"Additional strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Matthew could become a hurricane by Saturday," the NHC said, adding that the storm was moving towards the west at 16 miles (26 kilometers) per hour.

Matthew is expected to dump between six and 10 inches of rain over parts of Nicaragua and Honduras, with up to 15 inches possible in isolated areas.

"These rainfall totals may produce life threatening flash floods and mud slides," the NHC said.

A storm surge "is expected to produce some coastal flooding near and to the north" of the area the center of where Matthew makes landfall. "Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and dangerous waves."

On its forecast track, the center of Matthew will graze the northern coast of Honduras, then cross water again in a northwesterly direction and strike Belize on Tuesday, and Mexico's Yucatan peninsula the following days.

Since the arrival of Tropical Storm Agatha in late May, heavy rain has caused destruction in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador.

Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua all declared states of alert. Only Panama will be spared in the region.

Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom declared a "state of national emergency" on Saturday due to the heavy rain and flooding. At least 36 people have been killed in Guatemala, 40 people are missing, and some 11,500 evacuated by the flooding, which has caused some 1.5 billion dollars in damage.

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Typhoon Fanapi kills 54 in China: state media
Beijing (AFP) Sept 23, 2010
Typhoon Fanapi, one of the strongest storms to hit China in years, has left 54 people dead and 42 missing in flooding and landslides in the south of the country, state media said Thursday. Xinhua news agency said 79,000 people had been evacuated due to Fanapi, which hit China on Monday a day after raking Taiwan with heavy rains, killing two people and leaving more than 100 injured on the isl ... read more

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