Ukraine searches children’s hospital wreckage as NATO countries condemn ‘barbaric’ Russian strike

Emergency and rescue personnel operate and clear the rubble of the destroyed building of Ohmatdyt Children’s Hospital following a missile strike in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on July 8, 2024. (Roman Pilipey/AFP via Getty Images)

(LONDON) — First responders spent the night in Kyiv digging through the rubble at the children’s hospital and other sites struck by Russian missiles on Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

“The rescue operation after yesterday’s Russian missile attack continues,” he said on social media on Tuesday. “As of now, 38 people have been reported dead, including four children. My condolences to all the families and friends affected by this tragedy.”

At least 94 children, including eight who were injured, were transferred to other hospitals following the missile strike on the Okhmatdyt Children’s Hospital in Kyiv, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on the messaging app Telegram.

The wide-ranging aerial assault on Monday came on the eve of a NATO summit in Washington, D.C. As rescue work in Kyiv continued, officials with NATO countries and other Ukrainian allies issued scathing remarks criticizing Russia for its “horrendous” and “barbaric” strikes.

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg condemned Russia’s action, describing the strikes as “horrendous missile attacks against Ukrainian cities, killing innocent civilians including children.”

NATO members will make decisions during the Washington summit about how to strengthen the alliance’s support for Ukraine, according to a press release from Stoltenberg’s office.

President Joe Biden said on Monday that the fatal missile strikes in Ukraine were “a horrific reminder of Russia’s brutality.” He added that the world must continue to stand with Ukraine ahead of this week’s NATO summit, where the ongoing war will be a main topic of discussion.

Biden said that he will make clear to Zelenskyy that “support for Ukraine is unshakeable.” NATO leaders would also be announcing “new measures to strengthen Ukraine’s air defenses,” he said.

“My thoughts are with all the victims and their loved ones,” David Lammy, the U.K. foreign secretary, said in a statement. “The U.K.’s support to Ukraine is iron-clad. We must hold those responsible for Putin’s illegal war to account.”

Stéphane Séjourné, the French foreign minister, condemned Russia’s missile strikes, calling them “barbaric” and “war crimes.” He called for Ukrainian allies to strengthen their support for the under-seige nation.

“Russia must not win this war,” Séjourné said in French on social media.

The Security Service of Ukraine said it had opened a criminal investigation into the attack, which it also called a “war crime.” The service said a Russian Kh-101 missile struck the site, according to its preliminary findings.

Martin Jaeger, the German ambassador to Ukraine, said his team visited the hospital site and saw young cancer and dialysis patients “sitting on the sidewalk with their mothers.”

“This is a war against the civilian population,” he wrote in German on social media. “This is what Russia’s readiness for negotiations and its desire for peace looks like.”

The German prime minister added in a statement that his country “stands unwaveringly by the side of the Ukrainian people. Especially in these difficult times.”

More than 400 people were busy overnight on rescue operations at the Kyiv children’s hospital and elsewhere, Zelenskyy said on Tuesday.

He said four of the 38 people killed had been children. At least 190 people were being treated for injuries across the country, he said.

“We continue our work to increase the protection of our cities and communities from Russian terror,” Zelenskyy said. “There will be decisions. The world has the necessary strength for this.”

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Israel-Gaza live updates: IDF attacking in Khan Younis, Gaza City and Rafah

Tents sheltering displaced Palestinians in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip are pictured on June 4, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (Photo by EYAD BABA/AFP via Getty Images)

(NEW YORK) — As the Israel-Hamas war continues, efforts to secure the release of hostages taken by the terrorist organization are ongoing, and Israeli forces have launched an assault in Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

Here is how the news is developing:

Jul 08, 2024, 7:50 PM EDT
More flexibility from Hamas in cease-fire and hostage talks: US officials

With CIA Director Bill Burns and White House Middle East adviser Brett McGurk working to advance a cease-fire and hostage release deal in the Middle East, two U.S. officials familiar with the negotiations said they see more flexibility from Hamas than they did previously.

The officials assessed this is coming from Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar; however, they stopped short of saying they felt a breakthrough was in the offing.

The officials also said they believe Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still committed to achieving a deal.

The American delegation headed by Burns arrived in Cairo earlier Monday to continue Gaza cease-fire talks, Egyptian state TV reported.

Jul 08, 2024, 6:30 PM EDT
Latest Gaza evacuation order will affect life-saving care: WHO

A new evacuation order in Gaza will “further impede delivery of very limited life-saving care,” the World Health Organization said Monday.

The Israel Defense Forces issued an evacuation order in Gaza City on Monday, telling people to go to designated safe zones.

Al-Ahli and Patients’ Friendly hospitals are now “out of service,” with some patients referred to hospitals that are experiencing shortages of beds and medical supplies, according to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Multiple health care centers are also located within the evacuation zone, while three hospitals are close by, he said.

“These key hospitals and medical facilities could quickly become non-functional due to hostilities in their vicinity or obstruction to access,” he said in a statement.

The IDF said Monday it launched a “counterterrorism operation in Gaza City targeting Hamas and Islamic Jihad infrastructure.”

“Civilians were warned and a route was opened for their safe evacuation,” the IDF said.

Jul 08, 2024, 1:34 PM EDT
Israel says it’s killed another Hezbollah leader in Lebanon

Israeli forces claimed Monday they have killed another Hezbollah leader in southern Lebanon.

An Israel Defense Forces aircraft “struck and eliminated the Hezbollah terrorist Mustafa Hassan Salman in the area of Qlaileh,” the military said in a statement.

The IDF accused Salman of participating in the “planning and execution of numerous terror attacks” against Israel.

Last week, the IDF said it assassinated Muhammad Ni’Mah Nasser, one of the most senior Hezbollah commanders killed since the group began firing at Israel in solidarity with Gaza on Oct. 8.

Attacks between Israel and Hezbollah forces continued Monday.

Jul 08, 2024, 1:19 PM EDT
Hostages and Missing Families Forum asks Netanyahu to delay US trip

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum has asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to delay his trip to the United States at the end of the month and stay in Israel to “prioritize finalizing a hostage release deal.”

Netanyahu is currently scheduled to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress on July 24.

“For 9 months, 120 innocent men, women, children, and elderly have been held captive in Gaza by Hamas,” the Hostages Families Forum said in a statement on Monday. “These hostages endure unimaginable horrors daily. Every moment in captivity is a risk to their lives and well-being.”

Jul 08, 2024, 12:31 PM EDT
Israeli forces attacking in Khan Younis, Gaza City and Rafah

Israeli forces have been attacking in Rafah, Khan Younis and Gaza City, the Israel Defense Forces said Monday.

Over the past day in Rafah, Israeli troops “operated to eliminate more than 30 terrorists who posed a threat to IDF troops,” IDF said in a statement.

Jul 07, 2024, 5:07 PM EDT
American hurt by Hezbollah rocket fire: US Embassy

A U.S. citizen was injured Sunday by one of multiple rockets fired into Israel from Lebanon by the terrorist group Hezbollah, according to the U.S. embassy in Israel.

Embassy officials said they received information regarding the injured private U.S. citizen. The embassy confirmed the individual does not work for the U.S. government.

The embassy was working to gather more information on the injured person, officials said.

Further details about the incident were not immediately disclosed.

-ABC News’ Jordana Miller

Jul 06, 2024, 6:26 PM EDT
IDF gives more details on strike on school

Israel Defense Forces released details about a strike on a school in Nuseirat refugee camp that Gaza officials said killed 16 and wounded at least 50.

The IDF claimed its intelligence found that the site allegedly “served as a hideout and operational infrastructure from which attacks against IDF troops operating in the Gaza Strip were directed and carried out.”

“Prior to the strike, numerous steps were taken in order to mitigate the risk of harming civilians, including the use of precise aerial surveillance and additional intelligence,” the IDF said without disclosing what steps were taken.

-ABC News’ Dorit Long

Jul 06, 2024, 4:19 PM EDT
IDF admits it’ll be fighting Hamas insurgency in Gaza for 5 years

Israel is planning for a long insurgency against Hamas, saying it expects Hamas to still exist in five years, but it said the group is no longer capable of perpetrating an Oct. 7-style attack.

“Will you and me be talking five years from now about Hamas as a terror organization in Gaza? The answer is yes,” Israel Defense Forces spokesman Daniel Hagari told ABC News.

Hagari is the first Israeli official to publicly admit that the insurgency will be long and difficult, in stark contrast to the bombast of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who continues to vow the quick destruction of Hamas.

Gaza, and even to some degree Hezbollah, are “perpetual wars” distracting Israel from what he called their main enemy, Iran, a senior Israeli official told ABC News.

-ABC News’ Matt Gutman

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

‘Massive’ barrage of Russian missiles target Ukraine, killing 21 and striking children’s hospital

A Ukrainian firefighter works to extinguish a fire in a residential building following a missile attack in Kyiv on July 8, 2024. — Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty Images

(LONDON) — At least 21 people were killed across Ukraine early on Monday, as Russia launched a barrage of more than 40 missiles in a “massive” attack, Ukrainian officials said.

Okhmatdyt Children’s Hospital in Kyiv was damaged, along with residential areas and other infrastructure, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on social media.

It was not immediately clear whether there were casualties at the hospital, but children were believed to be stuck beneath the rubble, Zelenskyy said. Doctors, hospital staff and first responders were digging through the debris, he said. The hospital is among the most well respected children’s hospitals in Ukraine.

“And the entire world must use all its determination to finally put an end to the Russian strikes. Killing is what Putin brings,” Zelenskyy said. “Only together can we bring real peace and security.”

The attack, which is among the largest Russian strikes in months, comes a day before U.S. President Joe Biden begins a 3-day NATO summit in Washington, where the group is expected to discuss support for Ukraine.

The alliance is expected to make “significant” announcements about increased military and financial support for Ukraine, a senior White House official said last week.

Photos and videos shared Monday by Zelenskyy and those at the hospital appeared to show bloodied doctors carrying out children, a building in the hospital grounds reduced to rubble and the exterior of the main building blown out. One image appears to show young patients sitting on the street with their IVs after the explosion.

A doctor at the hospital told local media the missile destroyed a building where two operations were happening at the time.

The missiles targeted cities including Kyiv, Dnipro, Kryvyi Rih, Slovyansk and Kramatorsk, Zelesnkyy said. At least eight of the dead were in Kyiv, officials said.

At least 10 people were killed and several others injured Monday morning in Russian airstrikes on Kryvyi Rih, a city in central Ukraine and Zelenskyy’s hometown, officials said. Another three people were killed in Russian airstrikes on the eastern Ukrainian city of Pokrovsk, officials said.

ABC News’ Joe Simonetti and Morgan Winsor contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Israel-Gaza live updates: US Embassy says American injured by Hezbollah rocket fire

Tents sheltering displaced Palestinians in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip are pictured on June 4, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (Photo by EYAD BABA/AFP via Getty Images)

(NEW YORK) — As the Israel-Hamas war continues, negotiations have stalled to secure the release of hostages taken by the terrorist organization, and Israeli forces continue to launch incursions in the southern Gazan town of Rafah ahead of a possible large-scale invasion.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Jul 07, 5:07 PM
American hurt by Hezbollah rocket fire: US Embassy

A U.S. citizen was injured Sunday by one of multiple rockets fired into Israel from Lebanon by the terrorist group Hezbollah, according to the U.S. embassy in Israel.

Embassy officials said they received information regarding the injured private U.S. citizen. The embassy confirmed the individual does not work for the U.S. government.

The embassy was working to gather more information on the injured person, officials said.

Further details about the incident were not immediately disclosed.

-ABC News’ Jordana Miller

Jul 06, 6:26 PM
IDF gives more details on strike on school

Israel Defense Forces released details about a strike on a school in Nuseirat refugee camp that Gaza officials said killed 16 and wounded at least 50.

The IDF claimed its intelligence found that the site allegedly “served as a hideout and operational infrastructure from which attacks against IDF troops operating in the Gaza Strip were directed and carried out.”

“Prior to the strike, numerous steps were taken in order to mitigate the risk of harming civilians, including the use of precise aerial surveillance and additional intelligence,” the IDF said without disclosing what steps were taken.

-ABC News’ Dorit Long

Jul 06, 4:19 PM
IDF admits it’ll be fighting Hamas insurgency in Gaza for 5 years

Israel is planning for a long insurgency against Hamas, saying it expects Hamas to still exist in five years, but it said the group is no longer capable of perpetrating an Oct. 7-style attack.

“Will you and me be talking five years from now about Hamas as a terror organization in Gaza? The answer is yes,” Israel Defense Forces spokesman Daniel Hagari told ABC News.

Hagari is the first Israeli official to publicly admit that the insurgency will be long and difficult, in stark contrast to the bombast of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who continues to vow the quick destruction of Hamas.

Gaza, and even to some degree Hezbollah, are “perpetual wars” distracting Israel from what he called their main enemy, Iran, a senior Israeli official told ABC News.

-ABC News’ Matt Gutman

Jul 06, 4:21 PM EDT
16 killed in strike on Gaza school, police unit

Sixteen people were killed and 50 others injured in a strike on a school in Nuseirat refugee camp, in central Gaza, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. The school housed displaced people and had a mobile police unit inside it.

Israel has not yet commented on the strike, ABC News has asked the IDF for comment.

-ABC News’ Victoria Beaule

Jul 06, 10:40 AM EDT
Israel conducts strikes in Lebanon overnight

The Israel Defence Forces said on Saturday that it struck “a number” of Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah responded with an aerial attack on what they said was a military position in the north on Saturday morning.

The IDF said the drone was intercepted and the remnants fell in an open area.

Jul 04, 2:37 PM EDT
Netanyahu visits Air Force following strikes from Lebanon

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the operational headquarters of the Air Force Thursday following strikes from Hezbollah militants in Lebanon.

“In the midst of the difficult campaign against Lebanon, we established a principle — whoever hurts us will bleed on his head,” Netanyahu told the soldiers. “We put it into practice. We know the road is still long, but we are determined to restore security to the north and return the residents safely to their homes.”

Hezbollah militants said they fired more than 200 rockets toward Israel earlier Thursday. Fires broke out in several areas of northern Israel due to UAVs and shrapnel from interceptions of the projectiles falling in the area, the Israel Defense Forces said. No one was seriously injured.

One person was killed in Houla in Marjayoun after an Israeli drone attacked a house, the Lebanese national news agency NNA reported.

-ABC News’ Ghazi Balkiz and Jordana Miller

Jul, 04 1:15 PM EDT
Biden and Harris speak with Netanyahu: White House

President Joe Biden spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, a White House official said.

Vice President Kamala Harris also joined the call, which wrapped early Thursday afternoon, the official said.

Even as Biden tries to stave off criticism for his debate performance in the U.S., he is also trying to tamp down the mounting conflict between Israel and Hezbollah on the border with Lebanon. Hundreds of rockets were fired into northern Israel on Thursday, though no one was injured.

Netanyahu’s office also announced Thursday that Israel had received Hamas’ latest cease-fire proposal from U.S., Qatari and Egyptian mediators, and was “examining” the proposal.

-ABC News’ Molly Nagle

Jul 04, 6:01 AM EDT
Hezbollah fires 200 rockets, drones toward Israel

Hezbollah militants said they fired more than 200 rockets and drones toward Israel on Thursday.

Sirens and alerts began sounding throughout northern Israel early on Thursday, officials said.

As the sirens began “numerous projectiles and suspicious aerial targets crossed from Lebanon into Israeli territory,” the Israel Defense Forces said.

Jul 03, 1:44 PM
Israel assassinates highest ranking Hezbollah commander since Oct. 8

Israel assassinated the commander of Hezbollah’s Aziz Unit, based in southern Lebanon, Israel claimed and Hezbollah acknowledged.

Muhammad Ni’Mah Nasser is one of the most senior commanders killed since Hezbollah began firing at Israel in solidarity with Gaza on Oct. 8.

Hezbollah has responded with around 100 rockets in the last three hours, according to the IDF. No major damage has been reported.

Both sides have said they are ready for war and that they are ready to ink a peace deal brokered by U.S. envoy Amos Hochstein. A senior Hezbollah official said this week it can only sign the deal after Israel reaches a cease-fire with Hamas in Gaza.

-ABC News’ Matt Gutman

Jul 02, 4:34 PM
European Gaza Hospital now empty following evacuation orders: WHO

All patients and medical staff have left European Gaza Hospital in southern Gaza, following evacuation orders from the Israel Defense Forces in Khan Younis, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

The hospital, which had 320 patients, is “now completely empty,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

“It is devastating to see the 650-bed-capacity hospital out of service at a time when access to health care is urgently needed,” he said in a statement while calling on the hospital to be made operational “immediately.”

Most patients were being referred to Nasser Medical Complex, which is now at full capacity and facing a shortage of medical supplies, the WHO said.

Jul 02, 4:16 PM
Evacuation order is largest in Gaza since October: UN

The Israel Defense Forces’ evacuation order for a region in southern Gaza on Monday was the largest such order since October 2023, according to the United Nations.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East estimated that 250,000 people are impacted by the evacuation order in Khan Younis. The evacuation zone covers 117 square kilometers, according to U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

Jul 01, 1:12 PM
IDF orders evacuation of area in Khan Younis amid response to rocket attack

The Israel Defense Forces ordered hundreds of people in Khan Younis in southern Gaza to evacuate amid its response to a rocket attack, the military said.

The area for evacuation is near the European Hospital, according to a leaflet distributed in the region Monday.

“For your safety, you must evacuate immediately to the humanitarian zone,” the leaflet stated.

The IDF said the evacuation is in response to an earlier rocket attack that came from the area involving approximately 20 projectiles.

“A number of the projectiles were intercepted and some of the projectiles fell inside southern Israel. No injuries were reported,” the IDF said in a statement. “IDF Artillery is currently striking the sources of the fire.”

-ABC News’ Sami Zyara and Matt Gutman

Jun 29, 3:44 PM
Hostage speaks 1st time since release

Noa Argamani, one of four hostages rescued during a deadly IDF raid on June 8, released a video thanking Israeli forces for rescuing her and calls for the release of the remaining hostages, including her boyfriend, in her first public remarks since she was released.

They were separated during the kidnapping, according to Argamani.

“I want to take this opportunity to remind everyone that there are still 120 hostages in Hamas captivity. Among them is Avinatan Or, my partner, from whom I was separated at the moment of abduction. Although I’m home now, we can’t forget about the hostages who are still in Hamas captivity, and we must do everything possible to bring them back home,” Argamani said.

-ABC News’ Victoria Beaule

Jun 28, 2:31 PM
Military pier in Gaza to be taken offline again: US official

The U.S. military pier in Gaza will be taken offline again on Friday and moved to the Israeli port of Ashdod due to high seas, according to a U.S. official.

This is a precautionary move to protect the pier from breaking due to rough waves, the official said.

This is the third time the pier has had to be moved to Ashdod because of weather. The pier has been operational only about half of the time since it opened in mid-May.

“I don’t have a date of when the pier would be reinstalled,” Defense Department deputy spokesperson Sabrina Singh told reporters Friday, noting that Centcom will assess the sea conditions over the weekend.

As the pier was moved away Friday, two U.S. officials told ABC News that officials are considering not re-installing the pier until the humanitarian aid that it brought to Gaza gets distributed. More than 19 million pounds of aid has been delivered to Gaza via the pier but it’s now piling up at the staging point at the edge of the pier, Singh said.

Inspectors General at the Pentagon and the U.S. Agency for International Development announced Thursday that they’re launching reviews of the mission to deliver humanitarian aid into Gaza via the military’s temporary pier system.

-ABC News’ Anne Flaherty and Luis Martinez

Jun 28, 11:31 AM
Israel, US discussing transfer of Patriot air defense batteries to Ukraine

Israel and the U.S. are discussing the transfer of Patriot air defense batteries to Ukraine, a source familiar with the matter told ABC News.

This agreement — not yet finalized, according to the source — would mark a shift in Israel’s public policy following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A key factor behind Israel’s willingness to discuss the transfer of Patriot air defense batteries is the tightening military alliance between Russia and Iran.

In April, Israel announced the decommissioning of U.S.-donated Patriot systems from its aerial defense array. Security sources previously said Patriot has been successfully replaced by the Israeli-made David’s Sling air and missile defense system.

-ABC News’ Dana Savir

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Hurricane Beryl live updates: Storm makes landfall in Texas as Category 1 hurricane

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — Hurricane Beryl strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane before making landfall along the Gulf Coast of Texas early Monday morning.

The earliest Category 5 Atlantic hurricane in history, the storm killed at least seven people in the Windward Islands before skirting south of Jamaica, shutting down communications, stranding tourists and delivering storm surge and flooding rain to the island.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Jul 08, 6:07 AM
Almost 200,000 without power in Texas, PowerOutage.us says

More than 199,000 customers were without power across Texas early Monday, about an hour after Hurricane Beryl made landfall, according to PowerOutage.us.

Many of those outages were along the Gulf Coast, where the Category 1 hurricane made landfall, according to the tracking website.

About 21,000 customers were without power in Brazoria County, about 12,000 were without power in Matagorda County and about 5,000 were without power in Galveston County, the site said.

-ABC News’ Amanda M. Morris and Kevin Shalvey

Jul 08, 5:07 AM
Beryl makes landfall in Texas

Hurricane Beryl made landfall at about 4 a.m. on Monday near Matagorda, Texas, the National Hurricane Center said.

The hurricane brought with it a “dangerous” storm surge and strong winds, officials said. Flash flooding was expected.

-ABC News’ Max Golembo

Jul 08, 2:40 AM
Beryl expected to move inland over Texas, Arkansas

As Beryl heads toward the Gulf Coast as a Category 1 hurricane, the storm is forecast to make landfall in the next few hours before turning northeastward.

The storm’s expected to move farther inland over eastern Texas and Arkansas late Monday and Tuesday.

If Beryl makes landfall as a Category 1 storm, it would be the first landfalling hurricane in the lower 48 states since Hurricane Idalia made landfall on Keaton Beach, Florida, on Aug. 30 2023 as a Category 3 hurricane.

-ABC News’ Richard Von Ohlen

Jul 08, 2:26 AM
Winds increase to 80 mph

Hurricane Beryl’s top sustained winds increased to 80 mph, as the storm moved toward the Texas coast.

The Category 1 hurricane was about 30 miles south-southwest of Matagorda at about 1 a.m. local time. It was about 95 miles from Corpus Christi.

The storm was moving north-northwest at about 10 mph, with a turn toward the north expected this morning.

Beryl’s center is expected during the next several hours to make landfall on the middle Texas coast.

-ABC News’ Richard Von Ohlen

Jul 08, 1:54 AM
Rainbands move onto Texas coast

As Hurricane Beryl continued toward the Texas coast, radar indicated the heaviest rainbands along the eyewall have moved onto land.

The Category 1 hurricane had top sustained winds of about 75 mph just after midnight local time.

-ABC News’ Richard Von Ohlen

Jul 08, 12:39 AM
Beryl becomes a hurricane again as it heads toward Texas

Beryl has become a Category 1 hurricane as it heads toward Texas, the National Hurricane Center announced just after midnight ET on Monday.

Hurricane Beryl’s maximum sustained winds have increased to 75 mph. The storm is expected to strengthen before it makes landfall on the Texas coast.

Currently, Beryl is about 65 miles from Matagorda, Texas and 105 miles from Corpus Christi.

Jul 07, 11:08 PM
Beryl expected to become hurricane before reaching landfall overnight

Beryl remains a tropical storm with winds of 70 mph as of Sunday evening. However, the storm is expected to become a hurricane again before making landfall.

Currently Beryl is about 75 miles from Matagorda, Texas.

The storm is expected near Matagorda between 3 and 5 a.m. local time.

Jul 07, 8:10 PM
Beryl’s winds reach 70 mph as it heads toward Texas coast

As Texans brace for hurricane conditions, officials said Beryl currently has 70 mph winds as it moves toward the coast.

By Sunday evening, the tropical storm was located 105 miles southeast of Matagorda, Texas, moving northwest at a rate of 12 mph.

Jul 07, 8:10 PM
Officials urge Texans on the coast to evacuate

In a press conference Sunday, Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick urged people living on the state’s coast to evacuate before the storm hits.

“We don’t see many people leaving,” Patrick said. “You don’t want to be on the road tomorrow.”

Texas Division of Emergency Management officials said over 50 ambulances are on standby to assist with evacuating hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities, if needed.

“This storm has already left nine deaths in its path through the Caribbean. We don’t want number 10 to be in Texas,” Patrick said.

Jul 07, 9:01 PM
Beryl is closing in on Texas with up to 7 feet of storm surge forecast

The combination of storm surge and tide will cause normally dry areas near the Texas coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Officials are forecasting up to 7 feet of storm surge, above normal tide levels for Matagorda Bay and Port O’Connor to San Luis Pass.

The possible storm surge is forecast to reach up to 6 feet in Galveston Bay, officials said.

Surge-related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over short distances, according to the NHC.

Jul 07, 1:40 PM
Houston school campuses close as Beryl approaches

The Houston Independent School District announced Sunday that all its campuses will be closed as tropical storm Beryl bears down on the Texas coast and is expected to be a Category 1 hurricane when it makes landfall.

The school district sent out a message Sunday to students, staff and parents that it is canceling summer classes and activities, and closing all campuses and buildings on Monday and Tuesday.

Beryl was a tropical storm on Sunday in the Gulf of Mexico, but is expected to strengthen overnight and make landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast as a Category 1 hurricane early Monday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.

-ABC News’ Gina Sunseri

Jul 07, 12:37 PM
Beryl could be a Category 1 hurricane when it slams Texas: NHC

Beryl remains a tropical storm but was gaining strength over open warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and is forecast to be a Category 1 hurricane by Sunday night and is expected to make landfall on the Texas coast early Monday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

In an update on Beryl’s path issued at 10 a.m. CT, the hurricane center said winds generated by Beryl had slightly increased to 65 mph.

“Beryl [is] becoming better organized and forecast to become a hurricane before landfall,” the hurricane center said in its latest update.

The storm is expected to make landfall on the middle Texas Coast near Matagorda Bay on Monday.

A Hurricane Warning has been issued for the Gulf Coast from Baffin Bay north to San Luis Pass. A Storm Surge Warning was also issued for the coast of Texas from High Island to Sabine Pass.

“Beryl is forecast to become a hurricane again later today. Continued strengthening is expected overnight before Beryl reaches the Texas coast,” according to the hurricane center’s statement.

The hurricane center warned that a few tornadoes could also occur along the middle and upper Texas Coast through Sunday night and across eastern Texas and western
Louisiana on Monday.

In addition to storm surges of up to 6 feet, Beryl is expected to dump heavy rain on the Texas coastal cities.

“Heavy rainfall of 5 to 10 inches with localized amounts of 15 inches is expected across portions of the middle and upper Texas Gulf Coast and eastern Texas beginning today through Monday night,” the hurricane center said.

The White House said Sunday that President Joe Biden is monitoring Beryl as FEMA prepositions response teams.

“The President and his team continue to monitor Tropical Storm Beryl as it makes its way towards South Texas,” a White House official said. “We are in close contact with our state and local counterparts and FEMA has prepositioned response personnel, search and rescue teams, bottled water, meals, tarps and electric generators in case they are needed. On Sunday, FEMA activated its National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) to further support local response efforts.”

-ABC News’ Daniel Amarante

Jul 07, 6:20 AM
Beryl to make landfall as hurricane Monday morning in Texas

Beryl remained early Sunday a tropical storm with winds of 60 mph.

The storm has been slow to strengthen over the past several hours, which is potentially good news for the residents of the Texas coast.

Even though strengthening is expected, each hour that this storm delays that intensification will help contribute to a weaker storm upon landfall.

A hurricane warning is in effect from Baffin Bay to San Luis Pass.

A storm surge warning is in effect for Corpus Christi Bay, Matagorda Bay, and Galveston Bay. During the peak of the storm on Monday morning, surge may reach 4 to 6 feet above normal tide in Mesquite Bay and Matagorda Bay.

There are also numerous other hurricane watches, tropical storm watches and warnings, and storm surge watches across the Texas coast.

Beryl is still forecast to make landfall near Matagorda Bay as a Category 1 Hurricane on Monday morning.

-ABC News’ Daniel Amarante

Jul 06, 10:25 PM
Galveston issues voluntary evacuation notice

An island city on the Gulf Coast of Texas issued a voluntary evacuation of the island’s west end, Galveston officials said in a press release on Saturday.

While officials feel the chances of tides above five feet are currently very low, tides above that level could prevent travel on major roads and make it difficult for the city to respond to emergencies, the press release said.

Brian Maxwell, Galveston city manager, noted that predictions for the track of Beryl have not changed.

The size of Beryl has expanded slightly, according to the National Weather Service, and as a result, the island’s west end is currently under a storm surge warning.

Mayor Craig Brown “signed the order out of an abundance of caution,” said Maxwell.

If residents choose to stay in a low-lying area, they may not be able to safely leave for several hours, and emergency services may not be available while tides remain elevated, emergency management officials said.

Jul 06, 5:09 PM
Beryl now less than 400 miles from Corpus Christi

Beryl, now less than 400 miles from Corpus Christi, remains a tropical storm with winds of 60 mph, moving at 13 mph.

Beryl is moving over water that is slightly warmer than normal, by 1 to 2 degrees.

As Beryl approaches the Texas coast it will move over much warmer waters, 4 and 5 degrees above normal. The warmer water is expected to help boost Beryl back into a hurricane before making landfall northeast of Corpus Christi on Monday morning.

Hurricane Warnings have been issued for parts of Texas, from Baffin Bay northward to Sargent. Tropical Storm Warnings are now issued north of Sargent to High Island.

Landfall may occur with the center of circulation most likely northeast of Corpus Christi — the greatest impacts remaining north of that city as well. There is still time for this track to change over the next 24 hours.

The last hurricane to make landfall in Texas was Nicholas in September 2021, which was a Category 1 and made landfall on the northern side of East Matagorda Bay.

The last hurricane to make landfall just north of Corpus Christi was Harvey in 2017 as a Category 4. Harvey then stalled and dumped historic rainfall over southeast Texas. Beryl is not expected to stall and therefore similar impacts as Harvey are not expected, in terms of rainfall, wind or storm surge.

A Hurricane Watch has been issued for the entire coast south of San Luis Pass due to the hurricane-strength, over 74 mph sustained wind expected along the Texas coast.

Jul 06, 12:33 PM
Hurricane watch in effect for parts of Texas

A Hurricane Watch is in effect in Texas from the Rio Grande Valley to San Luis Pass, just west of Galveston Island, with a Storm Surge Watch from the mouth of the Rio Grande northward to High Island, Texas.

Storm surge is forecast to be 3 to 5 feet in Corpus Christi and Matagorda Bay, and 2 to 4 feet in Galveston Bay. These numbers are subject to change depending on the exact track and intensity of the storm as it approaches landfall.

Residents along the Texas coast need to be prepared for a powerful hurricane with life-threatening storm surge, damaging winds, and significant flooding.

Flooding rain is often the most impactful aspect of tropical systems. In terms of rainfall amounts, much of southeastern Texas is looking at 5 to 10 inches, with locally higher amounts up to 15 inches. Most of this rain will fall on Monday and Tuesday.

Jul 06, 12:27 PM
Now a tropical storm, Beryl expected to strengthen before hitting Texas

Beryl remains a tropical storm with winds of 60 mph as it churns in the Gulf of Mexico as of Saturday morning, but it is expected to strengthen before hitting Texas on Sunday with potential Category 1 strength.

On Saturday, Beryl may take some time to recover, but is forecast to begin strengthening by the end of the day. The storm is moving into favorable conditions for hurricanes, with warm water and limited wind shear.

The track from the National Hurricane Center takes Beryl towards the Texas coast by late Sunday night into early Monday, likely as a strong Category 1 Hurricane.

Currently, the most likely landfall location is around Matagorda Island, just east of Corpus Christi, but that will likely need to be adjusted as the storm’s track becomes more “fine-tuned” in the next day or so.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Fears for leading anti-Kremlin activist after family says he was moved to a prison hospital

Julia Reinhart/Getty Images

(MOSCOW) — The family of prominent jailed Russian pro-democracy activist Vladimir Kara-Murza is sounding the alarm after he was moved to a prison hospital and his lawyers said they were being denied access to him.

Kara-Murza, whose family lives in the United States, is a veteran anti-Kremlin campaigner who was arrested in 2022 after he criticized President Vladimir Putin and the war in Ukraine. He has campaigned against Putin for years and was nearly fatally poisoned twice, first in 2015 and again in 2017.

Last year, Kara-Murza, 42, was moved to a Siberian prison camp, where he is serving a 25-year sentence. Kara-Murza was convicted in 2023 on charges of allegedly spreading “false information” about the Russian army and being affiliated with an “undesirable organization” in a case widely condemned as a show trial.

There have been heightened fears for Kara-Murza’s safety following the death of Russia’s best-known opposition leader Alexei Navalny in prison in February.

Kara-Murza’s wife said his lawyers tried to visit him on Friday at the camp in Omsk but were told he had been moved to another prison hospital. At the hospital, his lawyers were told they could not see Kara-Murza, Yevgenia Kara-Murza wrote Friday on X.

She has warned that Kara-Murza’s health is fragile following the two poisoning attempts that, at the time, caused multiple organ failures and left him suffering from a neurological condition.

She also wrote that Russian officials refused to say what condition Kara-Murza is in.

Top Putin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza, who survived 2 poisonings, jailed for 25 years
Some U.S. senators, as well as European officials and human rights campaigners, have expressed concern for Kara-Murza, demanding Russia immediately provide access to him.

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., chair of the Senate Relations Committee, wrote in a statement on X that he was “disturbed” by the reports that Kara-Murza has been moved to a hospital.

“Jail is no place for a man recovering from two poisonings. Russian authorities should know the world is watching,” Cardin said.

A dual British-Russian citizen, Kara-Murza — like Navalny — chose to return to Russia despite the two poisoning attempts on him.

The two assassination attempts on Kara-Murza were later linked by independent researchers to the same team of poisoners from Russia’s FSB intelligence service that nearly killed Navalny in 2018. The United Kingdom has sanctioned two FSB agents accused of involvement in Kara-Murza’s poisoning.

The State Department has previously called Kara-Murza “yet another target of the Russian government’s escalating campaign of repression.”

Virtually all of Russia’s leading anti-Putin activists have been jailed or driven into exile, as the Kremlin has moved to crush any opposition following its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Supporters have warned of increased fears for the safety of opposition leaders in prisons in Russia, such as Kara-Murza and another high-profile leader Ilya Yashin, following Navalny’s death.

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Beryl live updates: Storm expected to slam into Texas coast as hurricane

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — Tropical Storm Beryl is targeting the Gulf Coast of Texas after dealing a destructive blow to several islands in the Caribbean and the resort coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

Beryl is projected to re-strengthen into a hurricane before it makes landfall just north of the U.S.-Mexico border late Sunday into Monday morning.

Beryl, the earliest Category 5 Atlantic hurricane in history, killed at least seven people in the Windward Islands — including Grenada and Carriacou — before skirting south of Jamaica, shutting down communications, stranding tourists and delivering storm surge and flooding rain to the island.

Here’s how the news is developing.

Jul 06, 12:33 PM
Hurricane watch in effect for parts of Texas

A Hurricane Watch is in effect in Texas from the Rio Grande Valley to San Luis Pass, just west of Galveston Island, with a Storm Surge Watch from the mouth of the Rio Grande northward to High Island, Texas.

Storm surge is forecast to be 3 to 5 feet in Corpus Christi and Matagorda Bay, and 2 to 4 feet in Galveston Bay. These numbers are subject to change depending on the exact track and intensity of the storm as it approaches landfall.

Residents along the Texas coast need to be prepared for a powerful hurricane with life-threatening storm surge, damaging winds, and significant flooding.

Flooding rain is often the most impactful aspect of tropical systems. In terms of rainfall amounts, much of southeastern Texas is looking at 5 to 10 inches, with locally higher amounts up to 15 inches. Most of this rain will fall on Monday and Tuesday.

Jul 06, 12:27 PM
Now a tropical storm, Beryl expected to strengthen before hitting Texas

Beryl remains a tropical storm with winds of 60 mph as it churns in the Gulf of Mexico as of Saturday morning, but it is expected to strengthen before hitting Texas on Sunday with potential Category 1 strength.

On Saturday, Beryl may take some time to recover, but is forecast to begin strengthening by the end of the day. The storm is moving into favorable conditions for hurricanes, with warm water and limited wind shear.

The track from the National Hurricane Center takes Beryl towards the Texas coast by late Sunday night into early Monday, likely as a strong Category 1 Hurricane.

Currently, the most likely landfall location is around Matagorda Island, just east of Corpus Christi, but that will likely need to be adjusted as the storm’s track becomes more “fine-tuned” in the next day or so.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

At Wimbledon, a master groundskeeper perfects tennis in ‘an English garden’

Francois Nel/Getty Images

(LONDON) — When most people think of Wimbledon, the immediate images that come to mind are of intense tennis matches, the iconic grass courts and the well-dressed spectators enjoying Pimm’s and lemonade along with their strawberries and cream.

However, beneath this world-famous tournament lies an often overlooked yet essential aspect: the meticulous care of Wimbledon’s grounds.

This is where the expertise of head gardener Martin Falconer comes in.

“The thing that most people forget is that Wimbledon is it’s not just for two weeks of the year,” Falconer told ABC News. “It is a year-round operation and we’ve got members, we’ve got tours, we’ve got public coming in all the time. So, any areas of the ground they can access, we make sure it looks good.”

For Falconer, this means that Wimbledon’s grounds are not just a spectacle for the two weeks of the championships; they are maintained to perfection all year.

“Our ethos is ‘tennis in an English garden,’” said Falconer, who is celebrating his 25th year working at the tournament this summer. “We want people to feel like they’re walking around in an English garden, within the tennis tournament and lots of grass courts. Visitors should feel as though they are wandering through a quintessential English garden, surrounded by immaculately kept grass courts and vibrant floral displays, and that is what we try to accomplish.”

Achieving the “Wimbledon aesthetic,” however, takes a lot of work for Falconer and his full-time team of 11 staff who are each responsible for different sections of the 42-acre complex, sections that they have expert knowledge and awareness of down to the granular level of what trees, shrubs and flowers are being planted and when.

The operations are rigorous but the summer months, while particularly demanding, are when things really ramp up as the start of the annual tennis tournament approaches, bringing with it the gaze of millions around the world.

Falconer and his team will introduce approximately 27,000 additional plants to elevate the grounds for The Championships, with many of these plants coming from various sources across Europe and the United Kingdom.

“We’ve got a local grower down the road that grows all our petunias,” said Falconer. “We have hundreds of hanging baskets and modules that go up around the grounds and another 10,000 individual petunia plants that go into all of those. So, there’s a lot of additional planting that gives this place a huge uplift. But we also do additional planting through the winter months and spring for the members of the tours. So, we have spring bulbs coming up all year and all of this is timed for things to bloom when the tournament is set to begin.”

This kind of meticulous planning, unsurprisingly, involves military-like precision and an expertise in each and every kind of plant that is installed at Wimbledon.

“We start bringing in plants closed in bud, ready to flower,” Falconer said. “As the tournament approaches, they come in more in flower, a little bit more open, ready for The Championships, ensuring that the plants are in peak bloom during the tournament.”

Each team member has a specific area of responsibility, working individually in the mornings and coming together for larger tasks later in the day, the division of labor ensuring every part of the grounds receives the attention it needs.

However, one of the biggest challenges faced by the grounds team is the famously unpredictable British weather, a constant concern when trying to keep tens of thousands of plants on a certain schedule.

“Weather conditions can really add a lot of pressure to what we are trying to accomplish here,” said Falconer. “If it’s too wet, if it’s too sunny, we’re out watering more, or we’re out trying to protect plants from getting too wet.”

Falconer does, however, have some tricks up his sleeve in case things go awry. He has extra plants behind the scenes like hydrangeas, petunias and ivy — plants known for their resilience and visual impact — that he will plant last minute just in case some of the flora does not bloom as expected or hoped.

For years the gardening work was done by contractors but it was eventually brought in-house and managed by Wimbledon in 2014, the year that Falconer was appointed the very first head gardener of Wimbledon in its history.

Falconer describes the role as one filled with pressure but also immense satisfaction, particularly when seeing the grounds in their full glory just before The Championships begin.

“The best moment for me is the day before the championships, or the evening before that first Monday, where you can look back and just see the sense of achievement from everything you work hard for all year,” said Falconer. “Just looking back and taking a bit of pride in what’s been achieved by me, the team and the amount of work that’s gone in. Hopefully everyone appreciates that.”

That moment of reflection might be satisfying, but it is also woefully brief as the team’s workload intensifies during the two-week tournament — involving long hours and meticulous attention to detail to maintain the grounds for the over half-a-million people that blanket the grounds during The Championships.

“You go from doing a 35, 40-hour week to probably a 55, 60-hour week,” said Falconer. “The team are pretty much all doing that. But they know the pressures of it. They’re up for it. They want to achieve the same and they want people to come in and be wowed and impressed by what we do and what we put on.”

Even when the final ball has been struck on Championship Sunday and the last of Wimbledon’s patrons have left the grounds, Falconer’s work begins almost immediately again as the grounds are cleared of temporary structures and planting — all while still being maintained for the members and tours as Wimbledon begins its transition back to its year-round operations.

“I do find myself walking around the grounds and noticing probably a lot more than most,” said Falconer. “I’m probably more critical on my stuff that most people wouldn’t even see or know about. But that’s the kind of perfection that you aim for. You just get attuned to doing your best and getting on with it.”

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Hezbollah rocket attacks on northern Israel spark fires, destroy thousands of acres

Amir Levy/Getty Images

(LIMAN, Israel) — Before Oct. 7, Sigal Malachi would wake up at 5 a.m. each day to water her plants, remove weeds, and produce cuttings. The co-owner of a greenhouse in northern Israel, she said her home was once a lush paradise.

Now, it’s a war zone.

Like others living close to the Lebanon border, Malachi is one of what the Israeli government estimates are tens of thousands of Israelis uprooted from their homes because of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. Forced to shutter her family business, Malachi packed her belongings and left Moshav Liman, an agricultural community in northern Israel on the Mediterranean coast, only a few miles south of the Lebanon border.

Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Lebanese militia group, began launching near-daily rocket attacks on northern Israel on Oct. 8, the day after the Iran-allied Palestinian militant group Hamas led an unprecedented incursion from the Gaza Strip into neighboring southern Israel, igniting the war. Hezbollah has said it is striking Israel in solidarity with Palestinians and won’t stop until there is a cease-fire in Hamas-ruled Gaza, where an ongoing air and ground assault by the Israeli military has caused widespread devastation.

In Israel, at least 1,200 people were killed and 6,900 others injured by Hamas and other Palestinian militants during the Oct. 7 attack, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). In Gaza, more than 38,000 people have been killed and 87,000 others wounded by Israeli forces since Oct. 7, according to the territory’s Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health. Meanwhile, Israel and Hezbollah have exchanged cross-border fire as tensions have escalated in the region.

On June 12, Hezbollah fired hundreds of rockets into northern Israel, the largest attack on the country since the war in Gaza began. The group said it was in retaliation for an Israeli airstrike that killed one of its senior commanders in southern Lebanon.

Malachi, a 46-year-old mother of two, is one of an estimated 60,000 people who, for their own safety, have been evacuated from northern Israel in the face of the Hezbollah rocket attacks, according to the Israeli government.

But the attacks have also brought with them an environmental cost, in the form of thousands of acres of wildfires.

“It’s dangerous, it’s coming next to the houses,” Malachi told ABC News of the fires. “Even if it’s not coming to the houses, it’s killing forests and it’s killing all the life on the ground.”

Yehoshua Shkedy, chief scientist for the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, has been monitoring the environmental damage the fires have caused. Vegetation in the north of Israel is much more widespread than in the south, he said, meaning the fire risk in the north is much higher.

“If this war is going to continue, we’re going to see more and more fire in the woodlands,” Shkedy told ABC News.

He said the fire ruins vegetation, harms soil quality, and burns small animals that cannot easily escape, including lizards, rodents, snails, and invertebrates.

“As we progress, the effects of the fire are more severe,” Shkedy said. “The soil itself is getting burned sometimes – cooked. It’s like in the oven, and then it’s becoming infertile for quite a while.”

He warned that after a hot, dry summer, September and October could be highly dangerous.

“Right now we have four times more fires than we have every year,” Shkedy said. “It is bad now, and it’s going to be worse toward the autumn.”

Gilad Ostrovsky is the chief forester of Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF), a nonprofit organization that for decades has helped manage Israel’s forests. He said crews are treating the forests and working to reduce fire risk by creating fuel breaks – that is, buffer lines with little to no combustible vegetation that separate settlements and forests by about 70 meters, or about 230 feet.

“Those buffer lines within the forest means they are wide enough to let fire trucks get in safely, but when the fire becomes bigger and more [intense], we have to call the airplanes,” Ostrovsky told ABC News, adding that using planes is also dangerous because Hezbollah could shoot them down with missiles.

“We are very worried,” Ostrovsky said.

With tensions increasing between Hezbollah and Israel, the prospect of future fires is concerning. Ostrovsky said flames from past fires reached some houses near the northernmost Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona. Some farmers, he said, lost orchards and agricultural land to the fires.

Ostrovsky said within two weeks in June, the forest fires in Israel sparked by Hezbollah rockets burned about 5,000 hectares – more than 12,000 acres – hitting the Biriya Forest national park, the Naftali mountains, and the Bar’am Forest Nature Preserve, all of them only a few miles from the border with Lebanon.

Ostrovsky said even Hezbollah rockets intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system can spark fires. “Even if we are successful in not letting the missiles get in, there is a massive explosion in the air. And then thousands of pieces spread all over and each piece can start a fire,” Ostrovsky said, which in turn makes managing the multiple blazes more challenging.

“It’s not just one place that it started. Now, because of the war and the rockets, it is starting all over, all over,” he continued. “It’s very hard for us to say, ‘Okay, we can be prepared.’ The uncertainty is very high. That’s the problem.”

Beyond immediate safety operations, forest rehabilitation will take years, Ostrovsky said.

“In the northern part of Israel, we prefer natural regeneration,” he said, noting that because northern Israel gets more rain than southern Israel and has more vegetation, regrowth can be assessed a few years after the fires to determine which sections of the forest need to be replanted.

The positive news, he added, is that many volunteers arrived in June to help firefighters.

Malachi, who now rents an apartment in Givat Ela, a small village east of the northern Israeli port city of Haifa, told ABC News that she makes the hour-long drive back to Moshav Liman three days a week to care for her plants and property. Others also began venturing back in June to cut grass, remove dried herbs and perform other tasks to help prevent future fires, Malachi said. Yet with so many empty towns, she worries the land is more vulnerable to fire because it’s been unkept for so long.

“It’s not going to be easy and it’s sad and I hope it will stop,” she said of the violence. While her home has been spared, Malachi said it’s shocking to see the north ablaze.

“You cry and you don’t believe it’s happened,” she said. “You see people fighting the fire and it’s scary. It’s affected everybody.”

Malachi said it will take a long time for communities and agriculture to recover. “It’s not like tomorrow we put again a new tree and try to make everything new. It’s not so easy,” she said, emphasizing the enormity of the fires. Yet she’s confident that it will happen.

“Everybody will come and help make the north again new,” she said.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Children who fled Russian invasion find community in Ukrainian scouting organization in Canada

ABC News

(SQUAMISH, British Columbia) — Ukrainian Plast, the country’s largest scouting organization, is becoming another center of gravity for Ukrainian families who fled the Russian war against their homeland.

Maria, 9, and her family were forced to relocate to Canada from Ukraine in 2022, several weeks after Russian armed forces invaded the country.

Although they lived in a western city of Lviv, relatively far from the Russian border, her parents considered the situation to be too dangerous to let it threaten their children’s lives and moved to Vancouver, British Columbia.

Maria’s mother almost immediately found the local Plast branch to join it.

“This year Spring Festival was about power, and under power I understand not only physical strength, but also mental strength — the ability to stand your ground firmly and survive,” Maria said.

Since their arrival, Maria has already got four camps in her aggregate and is very proud of the new badges she earned.

“As you can see, I have over ten skills for now – much more in comparison to the number I had back in Ukraine,” she said.

But Plast is not only about gaining badges — it is more about communication, learning and uniting young people before they enter the bigger world with its challenges.

That is why, this year the Spring Festival in Squamish, a town north of Vancouver, gathered dozens of participants not only from British Columbia but also from the US.

“My father was a Plast member, so I joined the organization when I was a little child and my first camp was at 4 and I have been doing camps since then,” said Kalyna Durbak, 37, Seattle Plast branch leader.

Her grandparents were from Ukraine, but her father was born in Argentina and her mother in the U.S. Her parents met in Chicago.

Although Kalyna was not born in Ukraine, she knows the language very well because of Ukrainian school in Chicago, which she attended every Saturday for ten years, up until she was 15.

“It was like I lived two lives at a time: from Monday till Friday, I was American but at home and at the weekends, I was Ukrainian,” she said.

Now, the school experience, in particular the knowledge of Ukrainian language, geography and history partially helps in her work with young Plast members.

Kalyna agrees, that more and more new members have joined Plast in the U.S. and Canada for the last two years.

On the one hand, she is glad that the organization is growing. But, on the other, she said she feels sad that the reason for that is the war: “These feelings are bitter-sweet as I am grateful for being able to help and support our sisters and brothers in Ukraine,” Kalyna said.

Due of the growing number of Plast members in Canada, Seattle branch refused to organize the Spring Festivals by themselves and join the neighbors so close to celebrate the start of the camping year all together.

“Of course, we could do it in Seattle, but it would be joylessly – I love to see Plast members from Vancouver and they love to see us,” Kalyna said.

That is why she describes Plast as some kind of brotherhood – one great family without any borders: “Plast has no borders, I like it very much as I have friends all over the world – I know scouts from Austria, Australia, Ukraine, Poland, Argentina, obviously from Canada.”

Anastasia, 39 and her children had no experience in scouting in their native city of Odesa in southern Ukrainian. Five months ago, the family moved to Canada to find peace. So, 9-year-old Sofia and her five-year-old brother Lev joined Plast in British Columbia.

“We want our children to remain in Ukrainian community, study Ukrainian culture and support it at the proper level, communicate with other Ukrainian children,” said Anastasia.

According to her, children are still trying to adapt in Canada, as it is completely new country for them, a new world, a new language: “They used to live in their own world but now they live in a new one, they used to have their own surrounding, friends and activities, and now they have to start everything from the scratch.”

Anastasia’s and her husband’s parents are staying in Odesa, a city that is a near constant target for the Russian missiles and drones, and they are sorry for not being able to see their grandchildren.

“But the security is above all — the most important for them is to ensure that our children are safe and Plast is important for us as it is connecting us with our Motherland,” said Anastasia.

“When we moved to Canada from Ukraine many years ago, there was no any hesitation regarding the continuation of the scouting traditions on the new ground,” said Lida Slobodian, this year’s camp commandant, recollecting the great experience from her youth when she was just a common member of Plast.

She has been the Plast member for over than 30 years and her elder children were attending Plast meetings back in Ukraine.

“Therefore, I wanted my youngest child, born in here, to be able to join the organization and that is how we have created a branch in Vancouver,” she said.

According to Lida’s analysis, approximately half of the branch’s current members were scouting back in Ukraine or are local Plast members in Canada. The other half knew nothing about the organization in Ukraine and joined it already in Canada to preserve and evolve their connection to Ukraine and to the local Ukrainian community.

Normally, Plast serves as an opportunity to preserve Ukrainian identity, Ukrainian culture and Ukrainian spirit, but Lida also considers it to be a great school of life, developing leadership and other soft skills.

For children it is an opportunity to become a member of Ukrainian circle, to find new friends and to establish new connections, she said. In her opinion, the opportunities provided by Plast are very important in the Canadian multicultural society where Ukrainian children can rarely meet other kids from Ukraine in their classes at school, practice Ukrainian language in order not to forget it in new surroundings.

In particular, such camps as this Spring Festival one serves as a good chance for children to play some games, to sing songs together, to present some skit performance, learn something new – and everything in Ukrainian language.

“Besides, children learn a lot about nature, wildlife, how to act when you meet a bear, for example, surviving in the forest and in the mountains,” added Lida.

In her opinion, this camp was mostly oriented on teaching children such skills as time management and leadership, as some tasks are oriented on the proper estimation of the problem and children’s ability to take responsibility for decisions and proposing some ideas or solutions in tight schedule. There were also some games that teach developing strategic thinking and teamwork.

Kalyna shares the opinion, that Plast gives young people an opportunity to become a leader and sometimes it is the first time for them to try themselves as leaders, to bear responsibility.

“It gives them a lot of leadership skills and self-discipline – they learn how to present themselves in the world, how to become a better teacher for others and a better person,” she said.

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