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Tropical storm Ian has strengthened into a hurricane set to unleash significant winds, flash floods and mudslides in Florida, Cuba and Jamaica, weather experts have warned.

The weather system is about 90 miles (150km) southwest of the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean Sea, according to the latest advisory issued by the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) on Monday.

Authorities in Cuba’s Pinar del Rio province, about two hours southwest of capital Havana, are preparing to evacuate people before the storm is expected to hit the western part of the island en route to Florida.

A hurricane warning is in place in Grand Cayman, the largest of the Cayman Islands, together with Pinar del Rio and other Cuban provinces including Isla de Juventud and Artemisa.

The NHC tweeted on Monday morning: “Life-threatening storm surge and hurricane-force winds are expected in portions of western Cuba beginning late today, and Ian is forecast to be at major hurricane strength when it is near western Cuba.

“Efforts to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.”

Florida governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency amid mounting concerns over the impact of the hurricane, with residents urged to monitor the storm’s evolving path and prepare for heavy rainfall, high winds and rising tides, leading to widespread disruption including power outages.

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Weather models predict the hurricane will travel in the direction of Florida’s west coast or Panhandle region – but forecasters are currently unsure where it will make landfall.

Governor DeSantis told a news conference on Sunday: “We’re going to keep monitoring the track of this storm.

“But it really is important to stress the degree of uncertainty that still exists,” he warned.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis addressing journalists in Tallahassee, Florida Pic: Tallahassee Democrat / AP
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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis warned the storm would have ‘broad impacts through the state’. Pic: Tallahassee Democrat / AP

“Even if you’re not necessarily right in the eye of the path of the storm, there’s going to be pretty broad impacts through the state.”

US President Joe Biden has also declared an emergency, as authorities begin co-ordinating disaster relief and providing assistance to protect lives and property.

Mr Biden also delayed a planned trip to Florida on Tuesday due to the storm.

Senior hurricane specialist at the NHC, John Cangialosi, urged people to begin gathering supplies – amid reports of a rush on water and generators.

Residents in Tampa, Florida, queue for two hours to fill sandbags on Sunday, 25 September Pic: Tampa Bay Times via AP
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Residents in Tampa, Florida, queue for two hours to fill sandbags on Sunday. Pic: Tampa Bay Times via AP
Empty shelves stripped of water at a supermarket in Tampa, Florida Pic: Tampa Bay Times / AP
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Empty shelves stripped of water at a supermarket in Tampa, Florida. Pic: Tampa Bay Times / AP

“It’s a hard thing to say stay tuned, but that’s the right message right now,” he said.

“But for those in Florida, it’s still time to prepare.

“I’m not telling you to put up your shutters yet or do anything like that, but it’s still time to get your supplies.”

The approaching storm also delayed another planned attempt on Tuesday to launch NASA’s Artemis moon mission from Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.

Dr Reinhard Schiemann, associate professor at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of Reading, warned of the impact climate change could have on tropical cyclones including Ian.

“Although the total number of tropical cyclones may not change much, or could even decrease, we expect to see increased peak wind speeds so that the fraction of category 4 and 5 cyclones – the worst and potentially most destructive – will increase.

“It is likely that the average rate of rainfall in tropical cyclones will also increase, because warmer air can hold more water and because at higher wind speeds the rate of moisture supply to a rainy area increases.

“We also expect that the most intense phase of tropical cyclones will tend to occur at higher latitudes than we have seen in the past.”

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Here’s how climate change could be at play.

In Canada, Storm Fiona washed away homes and knocked out electricity in two provinces after transforming from a post-tropical storm into a hurricane on Saturday.

Meanwhile in Italy at least 10 people died after “water-bomb” flash floods, likened to a tsunami, swept into Italy’s central region of Marche earlier this month.

Record-breaking rains in Pakistan triggering unprecedented floods affected 33 million and claimed the lives of hundreds of people including children, disaster officials said.

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Man sets himself on fire in protest area outside Trump trial

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Iran grounds flights across country after reports of explosions

A man has set himself on fire outside the courthouse in New York where former US President Donald Trump is on trial.

The man was in the designated protest area outside the courthouse.

It comes after jury selection for Trump’s hush money trial concluded with 12 people, and six alternatives, chosen to decide whether the former US president covered up payments to women who alleged they had affairs with him.

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Donald Trump labels hush money trial a ‘mess’ after jury selected

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Donald Trump labels hush money trial a 'mess' after jury selected

Donald Trump described the hush money case against him as a “mess” after the jury who will decide his fate has been selected.

Leaving the court in New York after proceedings were adjourned for the day, Trump addressed reporters, saying he was supposed to be in states like Georgia, New Hampshire and North Carolina as part of his campaign for the 2024 presidential election.

“[But instead] I’ve been here all day,” he said, labelling the trial as “unfair”.

Trump trial as it happened: Former president looks ‘bored’ in court

Trump held up a stack of news stories and editorials that he said were critical of the case while he continued railing against the trial.

“The whole thing is a mess,” he said.

It comes as all 12 jurors have been seated in the first criminal case against a former US president.

Former President Donald Trump speaks alongside attorney Todd Blanche as they return from a lunch break in his trial at Manhattan criminal court in New York on Thursday, April 18, 2024.  (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via AP, Pool)
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Pic: AP

Members of the jury include a sales professional, a software engineer, an English teacher and multiple lawyers.

Sky News’ US partner network, NBC News reported there are seven men and five women on the jury.

It comes after lawyers grilled hundreds of potential jurors asking questions on everything from their hobbies and social media posts to their opinion of the former president.

More than half of a second group of prospective jurors were dismissed by Judge Juan Merchan on Thursday after most said they doubted their ability to be fair and impartial.

One juror was also dismissed after she said she “slept on it overnight” and woke up with concerns about her ability to be fair and impartial in the case.

The challenge now is to select six alternate jury members before the trial can move to opening statements, with Mr Merchan hopeful this will be completed on Friday.

Read more:
Judge warns Donald Trump over ‘intimidating’ potential jurors
Trump calls hush money case an ‘assault on America’

Donald Trump orders ’30 milkshakes at chicken restaurant

Trump is accused of criminally altering business records to cover up a $130,000 (£104,200) payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, during his 2016 election campaign.

Ms Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who was paid $150,000 (£120,000), both claim to have had affairs with Trump.

Stormy Daniels, seen here in January, received a $130,000 payment from Trump's lawyer Pic: AP/DeeCee Carter/MediaPunch /IPX
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Stormy Daniels. Pic: AP

His lawyers say the payment was meant to spare himself and his family embarrassment, not to help him win the election.

Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. He could get up to four years in prison if convicted.

The former president faces two other criminal trials accusing him of trying to subvert his 2020 election loss to Joe Biden, and another that accuses him of mishandling classified information after he left the White House in 2021.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.

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Boeing whistleblower claims 787 Dreamliner planes ‘defective’

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Boeing whistleblower claims 787 Dreamliner planes 'defective'

Crisis-hit Boeing has rushed to defend itself from fresh whistleblower allegations of poor practice, as the airline continues to grapple its latest safety crisis.

A Congressional investigation heard evidence on Wednesday on the safety culture and manufacturing standards at the company – rocked in January by a mid-air scare that saw an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9 flight suffer a panel blowout.

One Boeing quality engineer, Sam Salehpour, told members of a Senate subcommittee that Boeing was taking shortcuts to bolster production levels that could lead to jetliners breaking apart.

Money latest: How to claim for pothole damage

He said of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, that has more than 1,000 in use across airlines globally including at British Airways, that excessive force was used to jam together sections of fuselage.

He claimed the extra force could compromise the carbon-composite material used for the plane’s frame.

“They are putting out defective airplanes,” he concluded, while adding that he was threatened when he raised concerns about the issue.

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Boeing quality engineer Sam Salehpour testifies during the Senate homeland security subcommittee hearing. Pic: AP
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Boeing quality engineer Sam Salehpour testifies during the Senate homeland security subcommittee hearing. Pic: AP

The engineer said he studied Boeing’s own data and concluded “that the company is taking manufacturing shortcuts on the 787 programme that could significantly reduce the airplane’s safety and the life cycle”.

Boeing denied his claims surrounding both the Dreamliner’s structural integrity and that factory workers jumped on sections of fuselage to force them to align.

Two Boeing engineering executives said this week that its testing and inspections regimes have found no signs of fatigue or cracking in the composite panels, saying they were almost impervious to fatigue.

The company’s track record is facing fresh scrutiny amid criticism from regulators and safety officials alike in the wake of the incident aboard the Alaska Airlines plane.

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What’s going on at Boeing?

It has become a trust issue again after the worst period in Boeing’s history when two fatal crashes, both involving MAX 8 aircraft, left 346 people dead in 2018 and 2019.

All 737 MAX 8 planes were grounded for almost two years while a fix to flawed flight control software was implemented.

A separate Senate commerce committee heard on Wednesday from members of an expert panel that found serious flaws in Boeing’s safety culture.

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Boeing CEO: ‘We fly safe planes’

One of the panel members, MIT aeronautics lecturer Javier de Luis, said employees hear Boeing leadership talk about safety, but workers feel pressure to push planes through the factory as fast as they can.

In talking to Boeing workers, he said he heard “there was a very real fear of payback and retribution if you held your ground”.

Pressure on Boeing to focus on safety has included restrictions placed on production, limiting its manufacturing output.

At the same time, it is still facing three separate investigations by the Federal Aviation Administration, the Justice Department and the National Transportation Safety Board relating to the panel blowout.

A management shake-up announced amid the inquiries will see the chief executive depart the company by the year’s end.

Sky News has approached British Airways for comment.

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