U.S. flies bomber, fighter mission off North Korean coast

In a show of American military might to North Korea, the United States on Saturday flew bombers and fighter escorts to the farthest point north of the Demilitarized Zone by any such American aircraft this century. The Pentagon said the mission showed how seriously President Donald Trump takes North Korea’s “reckless behavior.”

“This mission is a demonstration of U.S. resolve and a clear message that the president has many military options to defeat any threat,” Defense Department spokesman Dana White said in a statement.

“North Korea’s weapons program is a grave threat to the Asia-Pacific region and the entire international community. We are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the U.S. homeland and our allies,” White said.

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, has said Trump would “pay dearly” for threatening to “totally destroy” North Korea if the U.S. was forced to defend itself or its allies against a North Korean attack. Kim’s foreign minister told reporters this past week that the North’s response to Trump “could be the most powerful detonation of an H-bomb in the Pacific.”

North Korea has said it intends to build a missile capable of striking all parts of the United States with a nuclear bomb. Trump has said he won’t allow it, although the U.S. so far has not used military force to impede the North’s progress.

The Pentagon said B-1B bombers from Guam, along with F-15C Eagle fighter escorts from Okinawa, Japan, flew in international airspace over waters east of North Korea on Saturday. The U.S. characterized the flights as extending farther north of the DMZ, which separates North and South Korea, than any U.S. fighter or bomber had gone off the North Korean coast in the 21st century.

Trump on Friday had renewed his rhetorical offensive against Kim.

“Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!” the president tweeted.

On Thursday, Trump announced more economic sanctions against the impoverished and isolated country, targeting foreign companies that deal with the North.

“North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile development is a grave threat to peace and security in our world and it is unacceptable that others financially support this criminal, rogue regime,” Trump said as he joined Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in for a meeting in New York.

Hours later, Kim responded by saying Trump was “deranged.”

In a speech last week at the United Nations, Trump had issued the warning of potential obliteration and mocked the North’s young autocrat as a “Rocket Man” on a “suicide mission.”

Trump’s executive order expanded the Treasury Department’s ability to target anyone conducting significant trade in goods, services or technology with North Korea, and to ban them from interacting with the U.S. financial system.

Trump also said China was imposing major banking sanctions, too, but there was no immediate confirmation from the North’s most important trading partner.

If enforced, the Chinese action Trump described could severely impede the isolated North’s ability to raise money for its missile and nuclear development. China, responsible for about 90 percent of North Korea’s trade, serves as the country’s conduit to the international banking system.

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Hurricane Maria: US East Coast warned to monitor storm

After clobbering Caribbean islands through the week, Hurricane Maria could bring “direct impacts” to the U.S. East Coast in the coming days.

“It becoming increasingly likely that some direct impacts will occur along portions of the coast next week,” the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory on Saturday. “Interests in the Bahamas and along the Carolina and Mid-Atlantic coasts should monitor the progress of Maria.”

Forecasters expect “dangerous surf and rip currents” along southeastern U.S. beaches over the next several days.

“Swells from Maria are increasing along the coast of the southeastern United States and are expected to reach the mid-Atlantic coast tonight and on Sunday . … These swells will likely cause dangerous surf and rip currents at the beach through much of next week,” the hurricane center said.

The Category 3 storm is carrying maximum sustained winds of 115 mph and is 245 miles east of Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas. It is moving at 8 miles (13 kilometers) per hour.

“Maria will move away from the Bahamas into the open waters of the western Atlantic today,” the center said.

The Caribbean gets socked

The storm hit Dominica, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos, a British overseas territory.

It knocked out power in the U.S. commonwealth of more than 3 million people, Puerto RIco Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said. And it could be months before the electricity returns.

At least 15 people are confirmed dead on Dominica, and dozens more remain missing. One person died in the U.S. Virgin Islands, probably from drowning, authorities said. At least six people were killed in Puerto Rico, said Héctor M. Pesquera, the island’s public safety director.

U.S. President Donald Trump has pledged federal help for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Dam weakening in Puerto Rico

On Friday afternoon, people in the northwest part of Puerto Rico were urged to evacuate because of a possible dam breach on the Guajataca River, the National Weather Service said on Twitter

Rosseló told CNN affiliate WAPA radio on Saturday that the Guajataca Dam is still holding, but he is still pleading for residents to evacuate the area.

He said the mandatory curfew remains in effect until further notice, but it will now be from 7 p.m. until 5 a.m.

The governor said the island has a 20-day supply of gasoline and diesel and will install “water oasis” stations around the island. Many roads are impassable and gas stations were destroyed, he said.

Puerto Ricans living without water, communication

As Maria makes its way north, residents of Puerto Rico are beginning to assess the full extent of the storm’s destruction.

Locals in the town of Maunabo, on the southeast coast of the island, could be seen lining up at a freshwater spring near the base of a mountain to fill jugs, tanks and barrels.

The spring is the only source of water in the municipality, and people wait for hours each day to get the water they need to refill toilets, take showers and wash clothes.

“Every house comes here and every day it’s busy from morning to night,” said Hector Labron, a resident of Maunabo. “There’s no water in town.”

Residents also have limited access to cell signal, causing panic among families at home and abroad who have been unable to contact their loved ones.

East of Maunabo, in Humacao, people stop their cars along the side of the road near a cell tower on a hill. It’s the only access to cellphone service for miles.

“We’re trying to communicate to our families in the U.S.,” Jose Flores, who traveled 17 miles to reach the tower, told CNN. “I just got connected to my daughter in Florida, and she will let the rest of the family know I’m fine.”

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Quake shakes Mexico, already coping with earlier disasters

A 6.1 magnitude earthquake shook southern Mexico on Saturday morning, the US Geological Survey said, rattling a country still coming to grips with the devastation from two stronger temblors earlier this month.

Saturday’s quake was centered in Oaxaca state near Matias Romero, a town about 275 miles southeast of Mexico City. Roughly speaking, the epicenter was between the centers of this month’s two more violent earthquakes — the 7.1 magnitude temblor that hit Tuesday closer to the capital, and the 8.1 magnitude quake that struck September 8 off the southern Pacific coast, near Chiapas state.

Mexico City did not immediately appear to sustain significant damage in Saturday’s quake, the country’s office of the secretary of public security said.

Warning sirens sounded in the Mexico City after the quake was detected, interrupting rescue operations at some of the dozens of buildings that collapsed from Tuesday’s earthquake.

CNN video showed rescuers walking off one vast pile of rubble to more stable ground in case any shaking shifted debris further.

A 6.1 magnitude quake can produce strong shaking and considerable damage to poorly built structures and slight to moderate damage in better-constructed buildings, the USGS says.

The two earlier quakes killed hundreds of people and turned buildings into dust and debris in parts of Mexico. More than 300 people have been reported killed in Tuesday’s quake; nearly 100 reportedly died in the September 8 temblor.

Searches continue for survivors of Tuesday’s quake

Search and rescue efforts from Tuesday’s quake in the Mexico City area could last “for at least two more weeks,” Luis Felipe Puente, Mexico’s civil protection coordinator, told CNN affiliate Foro TV on Friday.

“Our first phase is rescue and humanitarian aid,” Puente said. “Until we are absolutely certain that there are no more people missing, we will continue our search and rescue mission.”

An unaccounted number of people went to shelters around the capital after losing their homes. Schools closed indefinitely, and millions initially were without power.

A hospitalized survivor of Tuesday’s quake spoke to CNN about his ordeal after being trapped in rubble for 17 hours.

Martin Mendez, a locksmith, said he was working in a building when it collapsed. He said he was overwhelmed by the pain of a broken bone and worried his life-sustaining air would run out.

Three other people, he said, tumbled around or on him. One woman fell with such force his right leg was broken.

“We had to hold on,” he said. The four calmed each other as the hours passed.

Rescuers would yell, “Is anyone in there alive?” but they couldn’t hear the group’s frantic replies.

Diana Pacheco texted her husband, told him where they were. Still no rescue.

Mendez said they feared the air would run out. But he kept his faith.

“I always believed I was going to get out alive,” he said.

On Wednesday morning, they were pulled out.

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Quake shakes Mexico, already coping with earlier disasters

A 6.1 magnitude earthquake shook southern Mexico on Saturday morning, the US Geological Survey said, rattling a country still coming to grips with the devastation from two stronger temblors earlier this month.

Saturday’s quake was centered in Oaxaca state near Matias Romero, a town about 275 miles southeast of Mexico City. Roughly speaking, the epicenter was between the centers of this month’s two more violent earthquakes — the 7.1 magnitude temblor that hit Tuesday closer to the capital, and the 8.1 magnitude quake that struck September 8 off the southern Pacific coast, near Chiapas state.

Mexico City did not immediately appear to sustain significant damage in Saturday’s quake, the country’s office of the secretary of public security said.

Warning sirens sounded in the Mexico City after the quake was detected, interrupting rescue operations at some of the dozens of buildings that collapsed from Tuesday’s earthquake.

CNN video showed rescuers walking off one vast pile of rubble to more stable ground in case any shaking shifted debris further.

A 6.1 magnitude quake can produce strong shaking and considerable damage to poorly built structures and slight to moderate damage in better-constructed buildings, the USGS says.

The two earlier quakes killed hundreds of people and turned buildings into dust and debris in parts of Mexico. More than 300 people have been reported killed in Tuesday’s quake; nearly 100 reportedly died in the September 8 temblor.

Searches continue for survivors of Tuesday’s quake

Search and rescue efforts from Tuesday’s quake in the Mexico City area could last “for at least two more weeks,” Luis Felipe Puente, Mexico’s civil protection coordinator, told CNN affiliate Foro TV on Friday.

“Our first phase is rescue and humanitarian aid,” Puente said. “Until we are absolutely certain that there are no more people missing, we will continue our search and rescue mission.”

An unaccounted number of people went to shelters around the capital after losing their homes. Schools closed indefinitely, and millions initially were without power.

A hospitalized survivor of Tuesday’s quake spoke to CNN about his ordeal after being trapped in rubble for 17 hours.

Martin Mendez, a locksmith, said he was working in a building when it collapsed. He said he was overwhelmed by the pain of a broken bone and worried his life-sustaining air would run out.

Three other people, he said, tumbled around or on him. One woman fell with such force his right leg was broken.

“We had to hold on,” he said. The four calmed each other as the hours passed.

Rescuers would yell, “Is anyone in there alive?” but they couldn’t hear the group’s frantic replies.

Diana Pacheco texted her husband, told him where they were. Still no rescue.

Mendez said they feared the air would run out. But he kept his faith.

“I always believed I was going to get out alive,” he said.

On Wednesday morning, they were pulled out.

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