TIME U.K.

British Royal Couple’s Second Child Due in April

Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge And Prince Harry Visit Tower Of London's Ceramic Poppy Field
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 05: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge walk through an installation entitled 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' by artist Paul Cummins, made up of 888,246 ceramic poppies in the moat of the Tower of London, to commemorate the First World War on August 5, 2014 in London, England. Each ceramic poppy represents an allied victim of the First World War and the display is due to be completed by Armistice Day on November 11, 2014. After Armistice Day each poppy from the installation will be available to buy for 25 GBP. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images) Oli Scarff—Getty Images

(LONDON) — The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have confirmed that their second baby is due in April — the first time they’ve offered a month for the royal birth.

Kensington Palace also said in a statement Monday that the duchess, who has been sidelined by a prolonged bout of severe morning sickness, continues to improve.

The former Kate Middleton and Prince William are scheduled to welcome Singapore President Tony Tan when he arrives on a four-day state visit this week. She is also expected to attend the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 award ceremony.

The duchess canceled several engagements after her second pregnancy was announced in early September. She had acute morning sickness during the first trimester of her pregnancy with Prince George.

TIME ebola

Friends, Family of Ebola Patient Reach Milestone

Relatives of the first patient diagnosed with Ebola on U.S. soil, attend a news conference in Dallas
From Left: The nephew of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient diagnosed with Ebola on U.S. soil, and Nowai Korkoyah Duncan's mother attend a news conference in Dallas on Oct. 7, 2014. Jim Young—Reuters

(FORT WORTH, Texas) — As her boyfriend Thomas Eric Duncan lay dying of Ebola in a Dallas hospital bed, Louise Troh battled loneliness and fear that she too had contracted the disease while confined to a stranger’s home under armed guard.

Troh’s confinement was ending Sunday night, along with several friends, family and others who had contact with Duncan after he first became infectious. Ebola has a 21-day incubation period, and the people who interacted with Duncan after he first arrived in Dallas from Liberia will be in the clear.

It’s an important milestone in the nation’s efforts to contain the outbreak and a cause for celebration for Troh. After three long weeks, she will be able to have a clean bill of health, leave the house and be done with twice-daily temperature readings by government health care workers. She likened the period to being a prisoner.

“I want to breathe, I want to really grieve, I want privacy with my family,” Troh told The Associated Press on Friday, lamenting that she was missing Duncan’s memorial service at his mother’s church in North Carolina because of the quarantine. Troh says she and Duncan planned to get married later in the week.

Duncan arrived in Dallas from Liberia in late September and went to the hospital complaining of headache and stomach pain. He was sent home with a prescription for antibiotics to treat a misdiagnosed sinus infection. He returned two days later, was diagnosed with Ebola and died Oct. 8.

The day Duncan tested positive for Ebola, Troh, her 13-year-old son, Duncan’s nephew and a family friend were ordered by a Dallas court to stay inside the apartment among Duncan’s used linens and any lingering virus. The unusual confinement order was imposed after the family failed to comply with a request not to leave the apartment, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said. The four were later taken to an undisclosed gated community.

Jenkins and Troh’s pastor George Mason delivered the news of Duncan’s death to her during the confinement period.

The other people who will have their quarantine period end at midnight include Youngor Jallah, Troh’s daughter, a nurse’s assistant who checked Duncan’s vital signs before calling for an ambulance.

For nearly three weeks, Jallah has not left the cramped, second-story apartment she shares with her partner, Aaron Yah, their three children, ages 2, 4 and 6, and Yah’s 10-year-old son.

Unlike Troh, Jallah is not prevented from leaving by an armed guard, but Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials have come by daily to check everyone’s temperature.

“I’m telling you, just to step outside will be so great. To hug my mom and grieve for Eric, not over the phone like we’ve been doing but in the flesh,” Jallah said.

Mason said he is coordinating efforts with the city, county and philanthropic community to help Troh and the family recover. Because of the Ebola infection risk, crews stripped Troh’s apartment down to the carpeting, saving only a few personal documents, photographs and a Bible.

“They were left with nothing. They are completely devastated by this, so there’s need to have their lives rebuilt,” Mason said.

Troh plans to partially recover financially with a book written about her life, from growing up in Liberia, meeting Duncan in a refugee camp in Ivory Coast, Duncan’s years-long quest to come to America to be reunited with his girlfriend and their 19-year-old son, and his death in an isolation ward.

“It will be a love story,” she said.

At Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas on Sunday, associate pastor Mark Wingfield said the congregation was eager to welcome Troh back.

“We look forward to welcoming Louise and her family members back to church after the quarantine is lifted and we want you to know that when that happens we will be glad to receive each one of them,” he said.

TIME Iraq

U.N. Says Iraq Has Executed 60 People This Year

(BAGHDAD) — Iraqi authorities have executed at least 60 people so far in 2014, a United Nations report said Sunday, expressing concern that “irreversible miscarriages of justice” were taking place in some death penalty cases.

Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N. special envoy to Iraq, urged the Iraqi government to reconsider its position on the implementation of the death penalty. Mladenov said the high number of executions in Iraq is “alarming, especially since many of these convictions are based on questionable evidence and systemic failures in the administration of justice.”

The U.N. report said the figure accounted for executions carried out during the first nine months of 2014. In comparison the United States, which has a population more than 10 times larger than Iraq’s, has executed 30 people so far in 2014, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

The death penalty, used under longtime dictator Saddam Hussain and briefly cancelled after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, was restored in Iraq in 2005. Hanging is the primary method used, and death sentences are applicable for a range of offences, including acts of terrorism. As of August 2014 some 1,724 Iraqi prisoners were awaiting execution, according to the U.N. report, citing Iraqi justice ministry figures.

Meanwhile, a suicide bomber set off his explosive belt near a Shiite mosque in Baghdad’s western district of Harthiya, killing 18 people, mostly Shiite worshippers, and wounding 32 others, said police officials.

Just north of Baghdad, police said a roadside bomb hit an army patrol, killing three soldiers and wounding four others.

Hospital officials confirmed the casualties from both attacks. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for the attacks. The extremist Islamic State group however considers Shiites heretics. The IS group has captured large chunks of territory in western and northern Iraq, plunging the country into its worst crisis since U.S. troops left at the end of 2011. U.S. warplanes have been carrying out airstrikes against the group as Iraqi and Kurdish security forces work to retake territory it has seized.

TIME Religion

Pope Beatifies Paul VI at Remarkable Synod’s End

Pope Francis waves as he leaves after he celebrated the beatification ceremony of Pope Paul VI, and a mass for the closing of of a two-week synod on family issues, in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican on Oct. 19, 2014.
Pope Francis waves as he leaves after he celebrated the beatification ceremony of Pope Paul VI, and a mass for the closing of of a two-week synod on family issues, in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican on Oct. 19, 2014. Andrew Medichini—AP

(VATICAN CITY) — Pope Francis on Sunday beatified Pope Paul VI, concluding the remarkable meeting of bishops debating family issues that drew parallels to the tumultuous reforms of the Second Vatican Council which Paul oversaw and implemented.

Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI was on hand for the Mass, which took place just hours after Catholic bishops approved a document charting a more pastoral approach to ministering to Catholic families.

They failed to reach consensus on the two most divisive issues at the synod: on welcoming gays and divorced and civilly remarried couples. But the issues remain up for discussion ahead of another meeting of bishops next year.

While the synod scrapped its ground-breaking welcome and showed deep divisions on hot-button issues, the fact that the questions are on the table is significant given that they had been taboo until Francis’ papacy.

“God is not afraid of new things!” Francis exclaimed in his homily Sunday. “That is why he is continually surprising us, opening our hearts and guiding us in unexpected ways.”

He quoted Paul himself as saying the church, particularly the synod of bishops which Paul established, must survey the signs of the times to make sure the church adapts methods to respond to the “growing needs of our time and the changing conditions of society.”

Paul was elected in 1963 to succeed the popular Pope John XXIII, and during his 15-year reign was responsible for implementing the reforms of Vatican II and charting the church through the tumultuous years of the 1960s sexual revolution.

Vatican II opened the way for Mass to be said in local languages instead of in Latin, called for greater involvement of the laity in the life of the church and revolutionized the church’s relations with people of other faiths.

He is perhaps best known, though, for the divisive 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, which enshrined the church’s opposition to artificial contraception.

More than 50 years later, Humanae Vitae still elicits criticism for being unrealistic given the vast majority of Catholics ignore its teaching on birth control. In their final synod document, bishops restated doctrine, but they also said the church must respect couples in their moral evaluation of contraception methods.

The bishops also signaled a muted opening toward gays, saying they should be “welcomed with respect and sensitivity.” That language was far less welcoming than initially proposed, and it failed to get the necessary two-thirds majority vote to pass.

“I have the impression many would have preferred a more open, positive language,” Canadian Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher wrote on his blog in explaining the apparent protest vote on the gay paragraph. “Not finding it in this paragraph, they might have chosen to indicate their disapproval of it. However, it has also been published, and the reflection will have to continue.”

The beatification marked the third 20th century pope Francis has elevated this year: In April, he canonized Sts. John Paul II and John XXIII. That historic event marked the first time a reigning and retired pope — Francis and Benedict — had celebrated Mass together in public in the 2,000-year history of the church.

Benedict returned to the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica for Paul’s outdoor beatification Mass in a potent symbol of the continuity of the church, despite differences in style and priorities that were so evident in the synod meetings this week.

Paul was beatified, the first step toward possible sainthood, after the Vatican certified a miracle attributed to his intercession concerning a California boy whom doctors had said would be born with serious birth defects. The boy, whose identity has been kept secret at his parents’ request, is now a healthy teen.

A second miracle needs to be certified by the Vatican for him to be canonized.

The Vatican said 70,000 people attended Sunday’s Mass, held under sunny Roman skies, far fewer than the 800,000 people who attended the dual canonization earlier this year. Paul is often called the “forgotten” or “misunderstood” pope, caught between the “good pope” John XXIII and the crowd-pleasing, globe-trotting John Paul.

TIME vatican city

Catholic Bishops Approve Revised Report on Gays

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Catholic bishops on Saturday approved a revised document laying out the church’s position on gays, sex, marriage and divorce, saying the report was a “balanced” reflection of church teaching and pastoral needs.

But participants said some of the more contentious paragraphs didn’t pass a majority vote and were cut from the final version.

The report of the two-week meeting of bishops had been rewritten to incorporate amendments to a draft released earlier in the week which had shown an unprecedented openness toward gays and Catholics who live together without being married.

Conservatives had harshly criticized the draft and proposed extensive revisions to restate church doctrine, which holds that gay sex is “intrinsically disordered,” but that gays themselves are to be respected, and that marriage is only between a man and woman.

Bishops filed out of the Vatican audience hall after sunset saying the text had passed. It’s expected to be released later Saturday.

“We could see that there were different viewpoints,” said Cardinal Oswald Gracis of India, when asked about the most contentious sections of the report on homosexuals and divorced and remarried Catholics. He said the vote went paragraph by paragraph and that some didn’t pass.

German Cardinal Walter Kasper, the leader of the progressive camp, said he was “realistic” about the outcome, suggesting that the boldness of the draft document had been watered down significantly.

In an unexpected gesture, Pope Francis approached a group of journalists waiting outside the synod hall to thank them for their work covering the synod.

“Thanks to you and your colleagues for the work you have done,” he said. “Grazie tante.” Conservative bishops have harshly criticized journalists for reporting on the dramatic shift in tone in the draft, even though the media reports reflected the document’s content.

Before the vote, Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis of Brazil, Gracias and Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi of Italy, the Vatican’s culture minister, said they all would approve the revised text and that they expected the majority of their fellow bishops would do the same.

They said the document was “balanced,” ”positive” and “open.”

“It’s accepting everybody, embracing everybody, wanting to embrace everybody, a pastoral approach of the church today,” Gracias said.

At the same time, though, some hot-button issues weren’t settled and will be put off for further discussion, he said. The bishops will meet again next year to close out the debate.

The draft report had signaled a radical shift in tone, saying gays had gifts to offer the church and their partnerships, while morally problematic, provided gay couples with “precious” support. The church, it added, must welcome divorced people and recognize the “positive” aspects of civil marriages and even Catholics who live together without being married.

The proposed amendments to the draft were nearly unanimous in insisting that church doctrine on family life be more fully asserted and that faithful Catholic families should be held up as models and encouraged rather than focus on family problems and “irregular” unions.

The bishops signaled a similar tone in a separate message directed at Christian families released Saturday. There was no mention whatsoever of families with gay children, much less gay parents, and it spoke of the “complex and problematic” issues that arise when marriages fail and new relationships begin.

“Christ wanted his church to be a house with the door always open to welcome everyone, without excluding anyone,” the message read. (Oddly, the English translation was less welcoming than the official Italian, ending the sentence after ‘everyone.’)

Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier of South Africa, who helped draft the revised final report, told Vatican Radio the final document showed a “common vision” that was lacking in the draft.

He said the key areas for concern were “presenting homosexual unions as if they were a very positive thing” and the suggestion that divorced and remarried Catholics should be able to receive Communion without an annulment.

He complained that the draft was presented as the opinion of the whole synod, when it was “one or two people.”

“And that made people very angry,” he said.

TIME Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, No Endgame for Chaotic Protests

With protesters and the authorities refusing to back down, hopes for a peaceful resolution are ebbing away

(HONG KONG) — Three weeks ago, students at a rally stormed a fenced-off courtyard outsideHong Kong’s government headquarters, triggering unprecedented mass protests for greater democracy in the semiautonomous Chinese city.

Since then, the movement has spiraled into a volatile and dangerous crisis with no clear endgame. Support for protesters is fast waning, as days of violent clashes between activists, their opponents and police overshadow the movement. Vast differences over political reforms divide the students and the government. Key thoroughfares remain closed. Some protesters are digging in for the long haul at the main occupation zone, while others fight to retake ground lost to police.

Against this backdrop, a government offer to negotiate with students appears highly unlikely to resolve the largest uprising since the former British colony returned to Chinese control 17 years ago.

“The endgame is nowhere in sight,” said Willy Lam, a China expert at the Chinese University ofHong Kong. “Short of using a high degree of force, which might exacerbate dissatisfaction among the public, it looks like neither Beijing nor the Hong Kong government has what it takes to defuse the crisis.”

Here are three key questions as the democracy protests continue to unfold:

What is the Hong Kong government’s strategy?

Hong Kong authorities have been inconsistent both in handling the students’ call for political reform and in tactics to clear the streets.

The city’s highly unpopular leader, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying — known as CY — angered protesters when he abruptly called off scheduled talks last week, saying a constructive outcome was unlikely. He then revived the proposal for talks a week later, amid soaring tensions and public anger over a video showing police beating a handcuffed protester.

Even if the talks materialize, chances that they could resolve the deadlock quickly are slim. Leung repeatedly has said that Beijing will not give in to the students’ demand to open up nominations for the city’s inaugural direct election in 2017, and he has little wiggle room to offer compromises to the students.

“At this stage, Beijing is running the show. Beijing is dictating ways and means that it hopes theHong Kong government will take to defuse the crisis,” Lam said.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s police appear entirely unprepared as they face a level of civil unrest not seen in the territory for decades.

A heavy-handed strategy of unleashing tear gas to disperse protesters on Sept. 28 and detaining student leaders backfired, drawing more supporters to the streets.

Police then veered toward a softer approach, leaving the protest zones alone. This week they carried out surprise pre-dawn operations to retake parts of the streets — including clearing out the second-biggest encampment, in blue-collar Mong Kok — but those actions appear to have triggered a backlash from angry protesters. Hundreds returned to Mong Kok on Friday, leaving the area convulsed in chaos for hours as police tried to hold back the crowds.

The volatility and Leung’s ineffective leadership are putting huge pressure on police to maintain order, said Steve Vickers, former head of intelligence with the colonial-era Royal Hong Kong Police Force, who now runs his own risk consultancy.

“The absence of any dialogue between the government and the public puts the police in a very exposed position,” he said. “The inability of the Hong Kong government to directly make decisions is exacerbating the situation. What I’m saying is CY’s not fully in charge.”

With Beijing appearing to want to avoid both bloodshed and a compromise with the student leaders, Lam said, “we have the making of a stalemate.”

Where does the protest movement stand now?

From the start, a key feature of the protests has been their amorphous and organic nature. Three groups at the heart of the movement have rallied the crowds and led efforts to negotiate protesters’ demands with the government, but there is no central leadership. Many taking part say the groups, headed by students and a law professor, do not represent them.

That spontaneity appealed to many supporters, but it’s become clear that the movement is unraveling at the edges and losing its unity of purpose.

As the standoff drags on, factions of more radical protesters are breaking off from the peaceful sit-ins at the main protest zone. For several nights in a row, large, rowdy crowds have stepped up their tactics to gain control of streets, scuffling with riot police. Others responded to calls on social media for flash mobs and what police condemned as “guerrilla tactics,” sporadically rushing into traffic to dump barriers in the road before running away.

Most protesters say they want the movement to stay peaceful, and some are frustrated by the divisions among activists.

The video of police officers kicking a handcuffed protester — and images of police dragging activists away and aiming pepper spray at protesters’ faces — have ignited even more volatility.

On Thursday, student leaders urged protesters not to let anger at police distract from the movement’s core purpose, or drive more ugly scenes that would spoil the movement’s public image.

“We came here to protest, not to let out our emotions,” Joshua Wong, an 18-year-old student leader, told protesters.

What are the likely outcomes?

The Hong Kong government now faces myriad scenarios, none of them particularly palatable.

Both sides could try to move forward on talks based on minor compromises. Officials hinted Thursday that there could be room for maneuvering over how a committee that nominates Hong Kong’s leader is picked, and that changes to elections could take place after 2017.

“If we don’t do it in 2017, we could try to do it in 2022,” Leung said.

The students could also be placated by Leung’s resignation, though it’s unlikely that Chinese President Xi Jinping would allow that, given his hard-line stance on dissent in China’s other outlying regions, such as Tibet.

In the shorter term, authorities could continue trying to wait the students out while police clear more protest zones in surprise raids. The strategy could be used to shut down the third and smallest site, in the Causeway Bay shopping district, where as few as 30 protesters were occupying about 100 meters (yards) of road on Friday morning.

But chances of success are less certain at the main site in Admiralty, a sprawling zone filled with tents, banners and protest art.

Vickers said the single biggest risk in the days ahead is the escalation of clashes between the protesters and their opponents, including triads, or criminal gangs who are widely suspected of being paid by shadowy pro-Beijing groups to stir up trouble.

“Police are going to be caught between the two groups, and that is not a nice place to be,” he said.

TIME Education

Campus Crime Reporting Requirements Expanded

(WASHINGTON) — A new government rule seeks to create more awareness of the extent of sexual assault on campuses.

Colleges and universities are required to compile and make crime statistics available on stalking, dating violence and domestic violence under a new rule announced by the Education Department.

The change falls under the Clery Act, which requires colleges and universities to report crime statistics on or near their campuses and provide warnings in a timely manner if safety is threatened. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 signed by President Barack Obama amended the Clery Act. Victims’ advocates have said the statistics, as currently compiled, don’t provide a full picture of the extent of sexual crimes.

The rule goes into effect July 1.

TIME ebola

U.N.: We Botched Response to the Ebola Outbreak

(LONDON) — The World Health Organization has admitted that it botched attempts to stop the now-spiraling Ebola outbreak in West Africa, blaming factors including incompetent staff and a lack of information.

“Nearly everyone involved in the outbreak response failed to see some fairly plain writing on the wall,” WHO said in a draft internal document obtained by The Associated Press, noting that experts should have realized that traditional containment methods wouldn’t work in a region with porous borders and broken health systems.

The U.N. health agency acknowledged that, at times, even its own bureaucracy was a problem. It noted that the heads of WHO country offices in Africa are “politically motivated appointments” made by the WHO regional director for Africa, Dr. Luis Sambo, who does not answer to the agency’s chief in Geneva, Dr. Margaret Chan.

In late April, during a teleconference on Ebola among infectious disease experts that included WHO, Doctors Without Borders and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, questions were apparently raised about the performance of WHO experts, as not all of them bothered to send Ebola reports to WHO headquarters.

WHO said it was “particularly alarming” that the head of its Guinea office refused to help get visas for an expert Ebola team to come in and $500,000 in aid was blocked by administrative hurdles. Guinea, along with Sierra Leone and Liberia, is one of the hardest-hit nations in the current outbreak, with 843 deaths so far blamed on Ebola.

The Ebola outbreak already has killed 4,484 people in West Africa and WHO has said within two months, there could be new 10,000 cases of Ebola every week.

When Doctors Without Borders began warning in April that the Ebola outbreak was out of control, a dispute on social media broke out between the charity and a WHO spokesman, who insisted the outbreak was under control.

At a meeting of WHO’s network of outbreak experts in June, Dr. Bruce Aylward, normally in charge of polio eradication, alerted Chan about the serious concerns being raised about WHO’s leadership in West Africa. He wrote an email that some of the agency’s partners — including national health agencies and charities — believed the agency was “compromising rather than aiding” the response to Ebola and that “none of the news about WHO’s performance is good.”

Five days later, Chan received a six-page letter from the agency’s network of experts, spelling out what they saw as severe shortcomings in WHO’s response to the deadly virus.

“This (was) the first news of this sort to reach her,” WHO said in the draft document. “She is shocked.”

TIME Navy

Sources: Hunter Biden Leaves Navy After Drug Test

(WASHINGTON) — Hunter Biden, the youngest son of Vice President Joe Biden, has been kicked out of the military after testing positive for cocaine, two people familiar with the matter said Thursday.

The Navy said that Biden, a former lobbyist who works at a private equity firm, was discharged in February — barely a year after he was selected for the part-time position as a public affairs officer in the Navy Reserve. Citing privacy laws, the Navy did not give a reason for the discharge, which was not disclosed until it emerged in the media on Thursday.

In a statement released by his attorney, Biden said he respected the Navy’s decision and was moving forward with his family’s love and support. He did not give a reason for his discharge.

“It was the honor of my life to serve in the U.S. Navy,” Biden said. “I deeply regret and am embarrassed that my actions led to my administrative discharge.”

The vice president’s office declined to comment. Hunter Biden’s attorney didn’t respond to inquiries about whether Biden had used cocaine.

Two people familiar with the situation said Biden, 44, was discharged because he failed a drug test last year. They weren’t authorized to discuss the incident by name and requested anonymity. The Wall Street Journal first reported Biden’s discharge and failed drug test.

An attorney by training, Biden applied to join the Navy Reserve as a public affairs officer and was selected in 2012 — one of seven candidates recommended for a direct commission for public affairs. A board of senior Navy officers interviewed Biden before making the recommendation.

Because he was 42 at the time, he needed a special waiver to be accepted. Cmdr. Ryan Perry, a spokesman for the Navy, said Biden had been assigned to the Navy Public Affairs Support Element East, based in Norfolk, Virginia.

The terms of Biden’s separation from the Navy were unclear. Typically, military members discharged for failing drug tests don’t receive an honorable discharge.

The vice president speaks about his children frequently during public appearances. In December, Hunter Biden and one of his daughters accompanied the elder Biden on a trip to Asia, where the vice president praised his son’s work around the world as the chairman of the World Food Program USA.

“I’m so incredibly proud of him,” Vice President Biden said.

Earlier this year, Hunter Biden raised eyebrows when he joined the board of a private Ukrainian gas company, just as his father and the Obama administration were working to wean Ukraine off Russian energy. At the time, the vice president’s office brushed aside questions about the arrangement by saying that the younger Biden was a “private citizen.”

Biden, a managing partner at investment firm Rosemont Seneca Partners, has three children. His older brother, Beau Biden, is Delaware’s attorney general and an Army National Guard member who served a yearlong deployment in Iraq.

TIME weather

Powerful Hurricane Gonzalo Bearing Down on Bermuda

(HAMILTON, Bermuda) — A powerful Hurricane Gonzalo bore down on this tiny British territory early Friday, threatening to batter Bermuda with dangerous winds and life-threatening storm surge.

Premier Michael Dunkley urged residents in low-lying areas to move to higher ground.

“This hurricane is a large storm, and we should expect at least 24 hours of storm-force winds,” he warned.

Gonzalo was expected to pass within 29 miles (46 kilometers) of Bermuda on Friday night, close enough to be considered a direct hit, the Bermuda Weather Service warned. Islanders should see tropical storm conditions by Friday morning, forecasters said.

The hurricane’s arrival was coming just five days after Tropical Storm Fay damaged homes and knocked down trees and power lines in Bermuda. About 1,500 homes were still without power late Thursday.

Gonzalo was a Category 4 storm late Thursday with top sustained winds of 140 mph (220 kph). It was centered about 340 miles (545 kilometers) south-southwest of Bermuda and was moving north-northeast at 14 mph (22 kph), the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Dave Fox, a public affairs officer for the Bermuda government, said officials had turned a high school into a shelter, but he noted that wealthy Bermuda is known for having structures that can withstand heavy storms.

“We build for hurricanes,” Fox said. “It’s part of the building code.”

The capital of Hamilton was nearly deserted after midday Thursday, although some stores remained open and reported a steady stream of customers grabbing up essentials at the last minute.

“Some people seem to have left it until the end to get things,” said Melissa Trott, an employee at Phoenix Store. “We sold out of batteries, and our warehouse has none left.”

Gas stations also saw brisk business.

“I was here for Hurricane Fabian in 2003, so I’m not taking any chances this time,” said Susan Black, a retiree who was filling up her car and several gas cans. “I’ve been busy since 6:30 this morning getting things ready.”

The last major hurricane to strike Bermuda was Fabian in 2003, a Category 3 storm that killed four people. The last major hurricane to cross land in the Atlantic Basin was Hurricane Sandy in 2012, which hit Cuba as a Category 3 storm.

Kimberley Zuill, director of the Bermuda Weather Service, said Gonzalo’s path and duration would be similar to Fabian’s. Her agency predicted seas would reach 35 to 45 feet (11 to 14 meters) on Friday and said destructive waves could cause significant flooding on the island.

Some 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 centimeters) of rain was predicted for Bermuda, which is an island of about 70,000 people sitting 850 miles (1,400 kilometers) off the U.S. East Coast.

Authorities evacuated two hotels along Bermuda’s southern coast, with guests either flying out or being put other hotels. The government closed all public schools by Thursday afternoon and expected to close the island’s international airport Thursday night.

Earlier this week, Gonzalo claimed one life in the Dutch Caribbean territory of St. Maarten. Large ocean swells continued for parts of the Virgin Islands, the northern shores of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, parts of the Bahamas and the U.S. East Coast from North Carolina southward.

___

Associated Press writer Josh Ball reported this story in Hamilton, Bermuda, and Danica Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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