Harvey Slowly Leaving Texas, But Flood Challenges Remain
The city of Houston will finally get some relief from historic rain Wednesday as Tropical Storm Harvey pulls away from east Texas and makes another landfall in neighboring Louisiana.
Forecasters expected the Houston area to get about two centimeters of new rainfall Wednesday and to have sunny skies and hot temperatures by Friday. The region will still be dealing with widespread flooding from the slow-moving storm that has dropped more than 130 centimeters in some places since Thursday.
The National Hurricane Center said the storm could drop 15 to 30 centimeters of rain on southwestern Louisiana as it finally moves inland.
Local and state officials in Texas said rescuers had taken more than 13,000 people from flooded homes, and thousands of people were staying in shelters set up at Houston's convention center, the arena for the Houston Rockets basketball team and the stadium where the Houston Texans football team plays.
With so many people away from their homes and scattered reports of looting, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner instituted an overnight curfew starting Wednesday morning in order to prevent "potential criminal acts."
At least 13 deaths have been reported in connection with the storm. Authorities have not yet confirmed a number that high, but have said casualty figures could rise once the floodwaters begin to recede.
Elaine Duke, the acting head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said during a visit to Texas on Tuesday that the biggest challenge remains search and rescue efforts.
Duke was one of several officials who flew to Texas along with President Donald Trump to meet with local and state leaders and survey the response to the storm. Trump said the recovery effort, which has been estimated at tens of billions of dollars, will probably be one of the most expensive the United States has seen.
Visiting an emergency operations center in the Texas capital, Austin, Trump said his administration and Congress are going to come up with the "right solution" to help storm victims.
Trump also went to Corpus Christi, where the storm hit the Texas coast, and said there he wants the federal government's response to be "better than ever before."
The president waved a Texas state flag as he spoke to cheering supporters, calling the storm "epic." He added, "...but it happened in Texas, and Texas can handle anything."
Trump: All Options 'On the Table' After North Korea's Missile Launch
North Korea has acknowledged firing a ballistic missile over Japan, saying it was to counter current joint exercises by South Korea and the United States.
In a Wednesday morning dispatch from Pyongyang, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted leader Kim Jong Un saying the drill for the launch of the Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile was "like a real war" and the first step by North Korea’s military for operations in the Pacific and "a meaningful prelude to containing Guam."
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese leader Shinzo Abe agreed in a phone call Wednesday that maximum pressure needs to be applied in order to get North Korea to engage in dialogue to resolve the ongoing crisis.
"President Moon said that launching an intermediate range ballistic missile to fly over Japan's airspace was not a simple provocation, but violent conduct to a neighboring country," South Korean presidential spokesman Park Soo-hyun said.
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters Wednesday that China is working with the other members of the U.N. Security Council and hopes those efforts can help peacefully resolve the nuclear crisis.
President Donald Trump said in a Tuesday statement that "all options are on the table" following the latest North Korean missile launch.
North Korea "has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behavior," Trump said in a statement released by the White House.
Asked by VOA what he plans to do about North Korea, before boarding a helicopter at the White House Tuesday morning, the president replied, "We'll see, we'll see."
Speaking during an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council Tuesday evening, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said Pyongyang has violated every single U.N. Security Council resolution and the world is united against its actions.
"It is time for the North Korean regime to recognize the danger they are putting themselves in," Haley said. "The United States will not allow their lawlessness to continue, and the rest of the world is with us."
Both the Chinese and Russian envoys emphasized that there is no military solution to the issue.
The Security Council held two hours of closed consultations on the situation and then issued a presidential statement that "strongly condemns" the recent launch.
"The Security Council further condemns the DPRK for its outrageous actions and demands that the DPRK immediately cease all such actions," said Egyptian ambassador Amr Aboulatta who is council president this month. He referred to North Korea by its official acronym.
The council also demanded that Pyongyang not conduct any further ballistic missile launches and comply fully with its obligations under numerous council resolutions, including the most recent, adopted on August 5. That demand looked set to be ignored as media reported that the North Korean leader said the country should conduct more missile tests into the Pacific Ocean.
U.S. intelligence officials said they see few signs that Pyongyang is likely to be deterred.
"North Korea has been conducting an unprecedented level of testing since early 2016 and we have not seen anything in their defiant posture to suggest that has changed," one official told VOA on condition of anonymity.
U.S. defense officials said the North Korean missile, launched Tuesday from an air base near Pyongyang, landed in the Pacific Ocean, about 930 kilometers east of Japan.