Elsa weakens to tropical storm as it moves through Caribbean

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(FLORIDA) — Elsa, which was the first hurricane of the Atlantic season, has weakened to a tropical storm, though it is bringing damaging winds and rain as it moves through the Caribbean.

After lashing parts of the eastern Caribbean with strong winds and heavy rain Friday, the storm weakened as it approached the southern coast of Hispaniola, with maximum sustained winds dropping to 70 mph. Portions of Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Hispaniola were also hit with heavy rain, gusty winds and rough surf Saturday.

The storm’s center was about 130 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, as of Saturday evening, as it speeds west-northwest at 28 mph.

Tropical storm watches and warnings are in effect across much of the region, and a hurricane warning remains in effect along the southern coast of Haiti due to the strong tropical storm, which is close to minimal hurricane strength at this time.

Life-threatening surf and rip current conditions are expected this weekend through the Caribbean Sea.

At least three people have died during the storm in the Caribbean, including one person in St. Lucia and a 15-year-old boy and 75-year-old woman in the Dominican Republic, according to The Associated Press.

The Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Cayman Islands, the Florida Peninsula and the Florida Keys are all advised to monitor the progress of Elsa.

Elsa is forecast to remain a tropical storm as it passes over Cuba and approaches the Florida Peninsula. A tropical storm warning is now in effect across eastern Cuba, with a tropical storm watch for much of the western half. Jamaica also has a tropical storm warning in effect.

The storm is forecast to impact eastern Cuba and Jamaica later Saturday evening and into the night with torrential rain, flash flooding, strong winds and rough surf.

There could still be some fluctuations in the strength over the next few days, though the storm is expected to slow down as it moves over Cuba and turns toward Florida. It is on track to impact southern Florida late Monday into Tuesday. A tropical storm watch is in effect for portions of the Florida Keys.

Elsa is forecast to track up Florida’s Gulf Coast Tuesday into Wednesday. Scattered showers and thunderstorms could start to develop later Monday afternoon in the Florida Keys and South Florida.

Ahead of the storm, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a state of emergency for Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Pasco, Pinellas and Sarasota counties.

Elsa could potentially impact the ongoing rescue efforts in Miami-Dade County following last week’s deadly condo collapse in the beach town of Surfside. So far, at least 24 people have been confirmed dead and 124 others remain unaccounted for since the 12-story residential building partially collapsed on June 24.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Charges will not be filed against Honolulu police in fatal shooting of Black man from South Africa

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(HONOLULU) — Three Honolulu police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Lindani Myeni, an unarmed South African rugby player, will not face criminal charges, according to the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney.

Honolulu prosecuting attorney Steven S. Alm announced Wednesday that the officers were justified in using deadly force because Myeni, who is Black, refused to comply and attacked the officers. Alm did not name the officers involved in the shooting.

Myeni, who had recently moved to Hawaii with his wife and two young children, was fatally shot on April 14 by Honolulu police who were responding to 911 calls after he apparently accidentally entered a neighbor’s home. According to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by his widow, Lindsay Myeni, her husband may have confused the home he entered for a next-door public temple.

Doorbell camera video obtained and made public by the Bickerton Law Group, which is representing the family of Lindani Myeni, shows Myeni arriving at a house, removing his shoes, entering the home and then quickly leaving after his presence confused the occupants. He repeatedly apologized in the video.

Once officers arrived, Myeni repeatedly punched one of the officers who pointed a gun at him and told him to get on the ground, according to documents provided to ABC News by Alm’s office. Alm said the other two officers attempted to stop Myeni by using a stun gun on him and tackling him to the ground before the first officer shot him once in the chest.

Even after being shot in the chest, Alm said Myeni continued punching the officer before another police officer shot him three times, striking him in the torso and right thigh. It was only after the shooting that police can be heard identifying themselves on body camera video. Myeni was pronounced dead of multiple gunshot wounds.

Alm said there was no evidence race played a role in the shooting.

In a statement provided to ABC News, the Bickerton Law Group said the civil case is not affected by this decision and they will continue to move ahead.

“In the civil case, we will address the central questions that Mr. Alm appears to have avoided completely,” the statement said. “When you avoid addressing the very first wrongful act committed, your analysis of what comes afterwards should not be accepted by the public.”

Lawyers representing the family denounced Alm’s decision, saying in a statement that he “did not address whether it was lawful for Mr. Myeni to defend himself from the unknown assailant with a gun. Without that analysis, the rest of his analysis can have no weight.”

“The big question was whether Mr. Myeni knew they were officers, and not a private security detail of the hysterical 911 caller standing behind them who had, just minutes before, falsely pretended to report a ‘break in’ to someone,” the statement continued. “We know that Lindani said ‘Who are you?’ at least twice.”

The Bickerton Law Group said the civil suit will “definitely” address Mr. Alm’s analysis and his “unsupported conclusion that, because of the ‘lighting,’ Mr. Myeni knew they were officers.”

“Mr. Alm did not explain why the officers all had to use flashlights if the lighting was so good, or why Officer #1 says repeatedly after the shooting ‘I couldn’t see him,’ or why Mr. Myeni says, ‘Who are you?'” said James Bickerton, one of the lawyers representing Myeni’s widow. “Nor did Mr. Alm report doing any forensic tests to see what a person in Mr. Myeni’s position would see if a 600 lumens tactical light is shone in their direction on a moonless night.”

The city has not publicly identified the two officers who fired the fatal shots that resulted in Myeni’s death, but Bickerton Law Group said they have identified the officers through an investigation. On Thursday, lawyers representing Myeni’s widow filed papers to name the two officers who fired the fatal shots as additional defendants in the suit.

“I just never thought, I would think of Honolulu as a bad place, as a dark place … it’s just full of love and aloha,” Lindsay Myeni told ABC News in an interview last month. “To have this place be so dark, and to actually have this other side where our police are just like the rest of the mainland, it’s like there’s no safety, there’s actually fear now.”

 

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Surfside building collapse latest: Death toll rises to 22, including child of firefighter

Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

(SURFSIDE, Fla.) — At least 22 people, including three children, have been confirmed dead and 126 others remain unaccounted for since a 12-story residential building partially collapsed in South Florida’s Miami-Dade County last week.

The partial collapse occurred around 1:15 a.m. on June 24 at the Champlain Towers South condominium in the small, beachside town of Surfside, about 6 miles north of Miami Beach. Approximately 55 of the oceanfront complex’s 136 units were destroyed, according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Raide Jadallah. Since then, hundreds of first responders have been carefully combing through the debris in hopes of finding survivors.

Two more bodies were pulled from the rubble Friday, as crews search the area of the collapse, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a press briefing Friday evening.

Two bodies also were pulled from the rubble on Thursday night, including that of a 7-year-old girl who was the daughter of a Miami firefighter, according to Levine Cava. The firefighter was not part of the crew that discovered the girl’s body but he was notified, according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Alan Cominsky.

“It goes without saying that every night since this last Wednesday has been immensely difficult,” Levine Cava said during a press briefing in Surfside on Friday morning. “But last night was uniquely different. It was truly different and more difficult for our first responders.”

Meanwhile, 188 people who were living or staying in the condominium at the time of the disaster have been accounted for and are safe, according to Levine Cava, who has stressed that the figures are “very fluid” and “continue to change.” The number of those accounted for has gone up as detectives continue to audit the list of people reported missing, a development that Levine Cava called “very good news.”

However, no survivors have been discovered in the rubble of the building since the morning it partially collapsed, and the hope that more people would be found alive appeared to be fading Friday.

Cominsky said rescue workers are “emotional” after the discovery of a first responder’s own daughter, which “takes a toll.” But he said that won’t stop them from continuing to search for those who are still missing.

“I just was hoping that we would have some survivors,” Cominsky said at the press briefing on Friday morning.

City of Miami Department of Fire Rescue Chief Joseph Zahralban later confirmed in a statement that a member of the team lost his 7-year-old daughter in the disaster.

The massive search and rescue operation, now in its ninth day, was temporarily halted for much of Thursday due to safety concerns regarding the structural integrity of the still-standing section of the building. Movement in the pile of rubble as well as in the remaining structure prompted the hours-long pause, according to Scott Nacheman, a structure specialist with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Urban Search and Rescue support team.

On Friday, Levine Cava signed an emergency order authorizing the demolition of the rest of the condominium “in the interest of public health and safety,” she said.

“Our top priority remains search and rescue, I want to be very clear about that, and we will take no action that will jeopardize our ability to continue the search and rescue mission,” she said. “I want to acknowledge that this was not a decision we made lightly, and I know especially how difficult this is for the families who escaped the building and who have lost their homes and their belongings. The building poses a threat to public health and safety, and bringing it down as is critical to protect our community.”

Nacheman, who is helping develop the plans, told reporters it would be “weeks” before a “definitive timeline” is available. Signing the emergency order will “help us move quickly,” Levine Cava said.

The structure was cleared by crews last week, and all search and rescue resources have since been shifted to focusing on the pile of rubble. But the two sites are side-by-side and the remaining building has posed challenges for the rescuers trying to locate any survivors or human remains in the wreckage.

“Given our ongoing safety concerns about the integrity of the building, we’re continuing to restrict access to the collapse zone,” Levine Cava said during a press briefing in Surfside on Thursday evening.

Shortly after search and rescue efforts resumed Thursday evening, the Miami-Dade County mayor noted that the crews “looked really, really excited to get back out there.”

Levine Cava told reporters on Friday morning that structural engineers are working to expand the search area as quickly as possible when it is safe to do so.

“Here we are, day nine,” she said. “Our first responders have been hard at work, as they have been this entire time, continuing to search through the pile that is accessible to them.”

Heat, humidity, heavy rain, strong winds and lightning storms have also made the conditions difficult for rescuers, periodically forcing them to pause their round-the-clock efforts in recent days. Officials are monitoring weather systems in the region as the Atlantic hurricane season ramps up.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said his office is beginning to prepare a potential state of emergency declaration due to Hurricane Elsa, the first of the Atlantic season, which could possibly hit Surfside. The storm’s track is not yet clear, but DeSantis said tropical force winds could arrive in South Florida as early as Sunday night. So officials are making the necessary preparations to ensure that both the search area and the remaining structure in Surfside is protected.

“This is just what we do but we are adding the special emphasis on this site because we understand the sensitivities involved,” DeSantis said during the press briefing on Friday morning.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden traveled to Surfside on Thursday to meet with officials, first responders, search and rescue teams, as well as families of the victims. Recalling the 1972 car accident that killed his first wife and 1-year-old daughter as well as badly injuring his two sons, the president told reporters: “It’s bad enough to lose somebody but the hard part, the really hard part, is to not know whether they’ll survive or not.”

The cause of the partial collapse to a building that has withstood decades of hurricanes remains unknown and is under investigation.

Built in the 1980s, the Champlain Towers South was up for its 40-year recertification and had been undergoing roof work — with more renovations planned — when it partially collapsed, according to officials.

A structural field survey report from October 2018, which was among hundreds of pages of public documents released by the town of Surfside late Sunday, said the waterproofing below the condominium’s pool deck and entrance drive was failing and causing “major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas.”

A slew of lawsuits against the Champlain Towers South Condo Association have already been filed on behalf of survivors and victims, alleging the partial collapse could have been avoided and that the association knew or should have known about the structural damage. A spokesperson for the association told ABC News they cannot comment on pending litigation but that their “focus remains on caring for our friends and neighbors during this difficult time.”

The association’s board released a statement Friday saying its surviving members “have concluded that, in the best interest of all concerned parties, an independent Receiver should be appointed to oversee the legal and claims process.”

“We know that answers will take time as part of a comprehensive investigation,” the statement continued, “and we will continue to work with city, state, local, and federal officials in their rescue efforts, and to understand the causes of this tragedy.”

In the wake of the Surfside building collapse, the city of North Miami Beach ordered that another condominium close immediately amid safety concerns connected to the 40-year recertification process, officials said.

The Crestview Towers Condominium is “structurally and electrically unsafe,” based on the review of a recertification report submitted Friday, city officials said in a statement.

“The city of North Miami Beach has taken the steps that we recommended to review to make sure that the recertification process was being done in a timely basis. And as I understand it, as a result of that audit, they found a building that had not been recertified, and when the information came in, they took some steps,” Levine Cava said Friday evening.

Some 300 residents have to evacuate, according to ABC Miami affiliate WPLG, while a full structural assessment is conducted.

The 156-unit condo was built in 1972.

ABC News’ Will Gretsky contributed to this report.

 

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Wildfire experts urge skipping fireworks this July 4th amid extreme conditions

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(LOS ANGELES) — Wildfire scientists and fire officials are pleading with people to forego fireworks this Fourth of July, as unprecedented heat waves and drought conditions have elevated fire risk in the western United States.

In an open letter published this week in The Conversation, an online publication for academics and researchers, more than 150 scientists said they are “gravely concerned about the potential for humans to accidentally start fires” in the West, as extreme heat, record-setting drought and dry vegetation are “setting the stage for widespread fire activity.”

“We urge people to skip the fireworks this July 4th and to avoid other activities that could start an unintentional wildfire,” the letter stated. “This will be critical for a safe Independence Day holiday, good practice for the rest of the fire season, and one way we can adapt to more safely live in increasingly flammable landscapes.”

The number of wildfires caused by humans spikes on the Fourth of July, particularly in the West, according to a 2020 study published in the journal MDPI.

Nationwide, nearly 30% of all fires started by fireworks from 2014 to 2018 were reported on the Fourth of July, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Half of reported fires on the holiday during that time were started by fireworks.

But fireworks aren’t the only cause for concern this fire season.

“With this year’s tinder-dry grasslands and parched forests, sparks from anything — a cigarette, a campfire, a power line, even a mower blade hitting a rock — could ignite a wildfire, with deadly consequences,” the scientists wrote in The Conversation.

Over 90% of the West is currently considered to be in a drought, with record-breaking heat in the Northwest leading to “worsening drought conditions across the region,” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

A day after declaring a statewide drought emergency, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte asked residents to “please use caution outdoors” ahead of the holiday weekend.

“Montana’s facing critical fire weather conditions, and it’s going to take all hands on deck to reduce the risk of wildfires,” the governor said in a video statement Friday.

Several communities in Colorado have canceled Fourth of July fireworks displays amid elevated fire risk, according to ABC Denver affiliate KMGH-TV. Many Arizona cities are doing the same, ABC Phoenix affiliate KNXV-TV reported.

In Utah, several cities have already banned fireworks due to the drought, ABC Salt Lake City affiliate KTVX-TV reported. Officials in Ada County, Idaho, have also restricted fireworks, according to ABC Boise affiliate KIVI-TV.

“Those aerial fireworks can land anywhere, and they can travel great distances,” Idaho Department of Lands Fire Management Bureau Chief Josh Harvey said during a press briefing Thursday in which state officials urged people not to set off fireworks amid the extreme conditions. “Please do not use aerial fireworks anywhere in the state.”

 

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Hurricane Elsa latest: Track may spare Surfside, rescue effort from worst weather

ABC News

(NEW YORK) — Hurricane Elsa, the first of the Atlantic season, could take many paths when it reaches the United States, from the East Coast to the Gulf Coast to Florida — including Surfside, where rescue operations are ongoing following last week’s condo collapse.

The good news is the latest guidance on Friday evening shows the forecast track shifting west and avoiding a direct hit on Miami. Any potential impacts from Elsa are much lower than 24 hours ago, but the chance for heavy rain, gusty winds and scattered thunderstorms remain.

Elsa continues to race across the eastern Caribbean Sea as a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph. Friday evening it was moving very quickly to the west at 30 mph.

Elsa crossed over St. Lucia Friday morning after blowing through Barbados, where it brought wind gusts of 86 mph.

A hurricane warning is now in effect for Jamaica and a hurricane watch has been issued for eastern Cuba.

By late Saturday morning, conditions will begin deteriorating across parts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti as Elsa closes in.

The latest forecast still has Elsa weakening to a tropical storm after hitting Cuba and then turning northward over the southeast Gulf of Mexico into Monday and potentially bringing notable impacts to Florida’s Gulf Coast later Monday into Tuesday.

Elsa could potentially impact the ongoing rescue efforts in Miami-Dade County following last week’s deadly condo collapse

As of Friday at least 20 people have been confirmed dead and 128 others remain unaccounted for.

The first rain bands in South Florida, including Miami, are expected Monday morning.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said crews are securing equipment, preparing for the possible impact.

But Florida may be spared from a major hit. With several days still to go, Elsa could take other paths, either hitting New Orleans and the Gulf Coast states or staying east of Florida and impacting the Carolinas.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Surfside building collapse latest: Death toll rises to 20 after body of firefighter’s child found

Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

(SURFSIDE, Fla.) — At least 20 people, including three children, have been confirmed dead and 128 others remain unaccounted for since a 12-story residential building partially collapsed in South Florida’s Miami-Dade County last week.

The partial collapse occurred around 1:15 a.m. on June 24 at the Champlain Towers South condominium in the small, beachside town of Surfside, about 6 miles north of Miami Beach. Approximately 55 of the oceanfront complex’s 136 units were destroyed, according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Raide Jadallah. Since then, hundreds of first responders have been carefully combing through the debris in hopes of finding survivors.

Two more bodies were pulled from the rubble on Thursday night, including that of a 7-year-old girl who was the daughter of a Miami firefighter, according to Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. The firefighter was not part of the crew that discovered the girl’s body but he was notified, according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Alan Cominsky.

“It goes without saying that every night since this last Wednesday has been immensely difficult,” Levine Cava said during a press briefing in Surfside on Friday morning. “But last night was uniquely different. It was truly different and more difficult for our first responders.”

Meanwhile, 188 people who were living or staying in the condominium at the time of the disaster have been accounted for and are safe, according to Levine Cava, who has stressed that the figures are “very fluid” and “continue to change.” The number of those accounted for has gone up as detectives continue to audit the list of people reported missing, a development that Levine Cava called “very good news.”

However, no survivors have been discovered in the rubble of the building since the morning it partially collapsed, and the hope that more people would be found alive appeared to be fading Friday.

Cominsky said rescue workers are “emotional” after the discovery of a first responder’s own daughter, which “takes a toll.” But he said that won’t stop them from continuing to search for those who are still missing.

“I just was hoping that we would have some survivors,” Cominsky said at the press briefing on Friday morning.

City of Miami Department of Fire Rescue Chief Joseph Zahralban later confirmed in a statement that a member of the team lost his 7-year-old daughter in the disaster.

The massive search and rescue operation, now in its ninth day, was temporarily halted for much of Thursday due to safety concerns regarding the structural integrity of the still-standing section of the building. Movement in the pile of rubble as well as in the remaining structure prompted the hourslong pause, according to Scott Nacheman, a structure specialist with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Urban Search and Rescue support team.

Structural engineers, who have been on site monitoring the situation, are currently planning for the likely demolition of the rest of the condominium amid the ongoing search and rescue mission, according to Levine Cava. Nacheman, who is helping develop those contingency plans, told reporters it would be “weeks” before a “definitive timeline” is available.

The structure was cleared by crews last week, and all search and rescue resources have since been shifted to focusing on the pile of rubble. But the two sites are side-by-side and the remaining building has posed challenges for the rescuers trying to locate any survivors or human remains in the wreckage.

“Given our ongoing safety concerns about the integrity of the building, we’re continuing to restrict access to the collapse zone,” Levine Cava said during a press briefing in Surfside on Thursday evening.

Shortly after search and rescue efforts resumed Thursday evening, the Miami-Dade County mayor noted that the crews “looked really, really excited to get back out there.”

Levine Cava told reporters on Friday morning that structural engineers are working to expand the search area as quickly as possible when it is safe to do so.

“Here we are, day nine,” she said. “Our first responders have been hard at work, as they have been this entire time, continuing to search through the pile that is accessible to them.”

Heat, humidity, heavy rain, strong winds and lightning storms have also made the conditions difficult for rescuers, periodically forcing them to pause their round-the-clock efforts in recent days. Officials are monitoring weather systems in the region as the Atlantic hurricane season ramps up.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said his office is beginning to prepare a potential state of emergency declaration due to Hurricane Elsa, the first of the Atlantic season, which could possibly hit Surfside. The storm’s track is not yet clear, but DeSantis said tropical force winds could arrive in South Florida as early as Sunday night. So officials are making the necessary preparations to ensure that both the search area and the remaining structure in Surfside is protected.

“This is just what we do but we are adding the special emphasis on this site because we understand the sensitivities involved,” DeSantis said during the press briefing on Friday morning.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden traveled to Surfside on Thursday to meet with officials, first responders, search and rescue teams, as well as families of the victims. Recalling the 1972 car accident that killed his first wife and 1-year-old daughter as well as badly injuring his two sons, the president told reporters: “It’s bad enough to lose somebody but the hard part, the really hard part, is to not know whether they’ll survive or not.”

The cause of the partial collapse to a building that has withstood decades of hurricanes remains unknown and is under investigation.

Built in the 1980s, the Champlain Towers South was up for its 40-year recertification and had been undergoing roof work — with more renovations planned — when it partially collapsed, according to officials.

A structural field survey report from October 2018, which was among hundreds of pages of public documents released by the town of Surfside late Sunday, said the waterproofing below the condominium’s pool deck and entrance drive was failing and causing “major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas.”

A slew of lawsuits against the Champlain Towers South Condo Association have already been filed on behalf of survivors and victims, alleging the partial collapse could have been avoided and that the association knew or should have known about the structural damage. A spokesperson for the association told ABC News they cannot comment on pending litigation but that their “focus remains on caring for our friends and neighbors during this difficult time.”

The association’s board released a statement Friday saying its surviving members “have concluded that, in the best interest of all concerned parties, an independent Receiver should be appointed to oversee the legal and claims process.”

“We know that answers will take time as part of a comprehensive investigation,” the statement continued, “and we will continue to work with city, state, local, and federal officials in their rescue efforts, and to understand the causes of this tragedy.”

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Hurricane Elsa forecast’s multiple paths includes Surfside where rescue efforts ongoing

ABC News

(NEW YORK) — Hurricane Elsa, the first of the Atlantic season, could take many paths when it reaches the United States, from the East Coast to the Gulf Coast to Florida — including Surfside, where rescue operations are ongoing.

Elsa is over St. Lucia Friday morning after blowing through Barbados, where it brought wind gusts of 86 mph.

A hurricane warning has been issued for Haiti, where heavy rain, flash flooding and rough winds are expected when Elsa charges in Saturday afternoon, likely as a Category 1 hurricane.

By Sunday night into Monday, Elsa will pass over Cuba as a tropical storm with heavy rain, flash flooding and 65 mph winds.

On Monday, Elsa will reemerge in the Gulf of Mexico as a tropical storm with winds of about 65 mph.

By Monday evening, Elsa will approach the Florida Keys as a strong tropical storm with winds near 65 mph.

The National Hurricane Center forecasts Elsa will move up the west coast of Florida, from Key West to Tampa, Monday night through Tuesday night.

Elsa could potentially impact the ongoing rescue efforts in Miami-Dade County following last week’s deadly condo collapse.

As of Friday at least 18 people, including two children, have been confirmed dead and 145 others remain unaccounted for.

The first rain bands in South Florida, including Miami, are expected Monday morning.

But Florida may be spared from a major hit. With several days still to go, Elsa could take other paths, either hitting New Orleans and the Gulf Coast states or staying east of Florida and impacting the Carolinas.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Two pilots alive after plane crashes few miles off coast of Hawaii

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(OAHU, Hawaii) — Two pilots are alive after their 737 Cargo jet crashed several miles off the coast off Oahu, Hawaii, following an emergency, according to the Hawaii Department of Transportation.

The plane was en route from Honolulu to Maui when the pilots reported that one engine was down and they were having problems with their second engine, officials said. At 1:46 a.m. local time the pilots lost their second engine and notified the Federal Aviation Administration that they were going down.

One pilot was taken to a trauma center and officials said the second was on a rescue boat heading to a fire station, officials said.

The Queens Medical Center said it received one patient in critical condition.

The cause of the crash was not immediately clear.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Surfside building collapse latest: As search resumes, officials plan to demolish standing structure

Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

(SURFSIDE, Fla.) — At least 18 people, including two children, have been confirmed dead and 145 others remain unaccounted for since a 12-story residential building partially collapsed in South Florida’s Miami-Dade County last week.

The partial collapse occurred around 1:15 a.m. on June 24 at the Champlain Towers South condominium in the small, beachside town of Surfside, about 6 miles north of Miami Beach. Approximately 55 of the oceanfront complex’s 136 units were destroyed, according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Raide Jadallah. Since then, hundreds of first responders have been carefully combing through the debris in hopes of finding survivors.

Meanwhile, 139 people who were living or staying in the condominium at the time of the disaster have been accounted for and are safe, according to Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, who has stressed that the numbers are “very fluid” and “continue to change.”

The massive search and rescue operation, now in its ninth day, was temporarily halted for much of Thursday due to safety concerns regarding the structural integrity of the still-standing section of the building. Movement in the pile of rubble as well as in the remaining structure prompted the hours-long pause, according to Scott Nacheman, a structure specialist with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Urban Search and Rescue support team.

Structural engineers, who have been on site monitoring the situation, are currently planning for the likely demolition of the rest of the condominium amid the ongoing search and rescue mission, according to Levine Cava. Nacheman, who is helping develop those contingency plans, told reporters it would be “weeks” before a “definitive timeline” is available.

The structure was cleared by crews last week, and all search and rescue resources have since been shifted to focusing on the pile of rubble. But the two sites are side-by-side and the remaining building has posed challenges for the rescuers trying to locate any survivors or human remains in the wreckage.

“Given our ongoing safety concerns about the integrity of the building, we’re continuing to restrict access to the collapse zone,” Levine Cava said during a press briefing in Surfside on Thursday evening.

Shortly after search and rescue efforts resumed Thursday evening, the Miami-Dade County mayor noted that the crews “looked really, really excited to get back out there.”

Heat, humidity, heavy rain, strong winds and lightning storms have also made the conditions difficult for rescuers, periodically forcing them to pause their round-the-clock efforts in recent days. Officials are monitoring weather systems in the region as the Atlantic hurricane season ramps up.

Although officials have continued to express hope that more people will be found alive, no survivors have been discovered in the rubble of the building since the morning it partially collapsed. Bodies, however, have been uncovered throughout the site.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden traveled to Surfside on Thursday to meet with officials, first responders, search and rescue teams, as well as families of the victims. Recalling the 1972 car accident that killed his first wife and 1-year-old daughter as well as badly injuring his two sons, the president told reporters: “It’s bad enough to lose somebody but the hard part, the really hard part, is to not know whether they’ll survive or not.”

The cause of the partial collapse to a building that has withstood decades of hurricanes remains unknown and is under investigation.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

1-month-old, 9-year-old girl shot in the head in separate acts of violence: Chicago police

ABC 7

(CHICAGO) — A 1-month-old girl and a 9-year-old girl were both shot in the head in separate acts of violence in Chicago on Thursday, according to police.

Seven people, including the 1-month-old baby, were shot shortly after 8 p.m. Thursday when three men got out of a black Cherokee Jeep and began spraying bullets on the city’s South Side, Chicago police said.

The baby was hit in the head and hospitalized in critical condition, police said.

The other six people shot were listed in good condition, police said.

The gunmen fled the scene and no arrests have been made, police said.

Hours earlier, at about 2:45 p.m., a 9-year-old girl was shot in the head while in a car on the city’s South Side, police said.

The 9-year-old was hospitalized in critical condition, police said.

A man in the car was also shot and hospitalized in good condition, police said.

The suspects, who may have been in a white SUV, fled the scene, and no arrests have been made, police said.

Chicago has had 1,489 shootings incidents this year, as of June 27 — a 12% increase from 1,333 shootings over the same time period last year, according to police department data.

These latest shootings come as the Chicago Police Department says it has a summer focus on removing illegal guns from the streets.

Police have seized 5,901 guns, including 290 assault weapons, so far this year — a 26% increase from the number of guns seized by the same time last year, David Brown, superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, said at a news conference Thursday.

The city is on pace to recover over 12,000 illegal guns by the end of the year, he said.

“There’s a lot of work to be done,” Brown said. “When crime happens, which is likely late evening into the early morning … is when our schedules are being adjusted. Because we are sworn to protect the people of Chicago. But we have also acknowledged 12-hour shifts and canceled days off are impacting our officers. … and we have implemented an officer wellness plan as a part of this.”

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