Happy Easter Weekend folks. Clem Lane here. Pretty gnarly storms heading through Georgia right now and on into South Carolina and later North Carolina but no additional reports of major damage or injuries so far.
TORNADOES-There was nothing good about this Friday for residents in several states who were hit by deadly tornadoes. It began last night as the storms moved from Oklahoma and Texas into Arkansas. Steve Osunsami, reporting from Mena, Arkansas, which was hit by a twister around 8pm last night, says that “three people were killed and 30 were wounded in the falling debris. 600 homes damaged.” Mother Nature wasn’t done though. Osunsami: “This afternoon, it was Tennessee, 30 miles east of Nashville…a large tornado filled the sky over Murfeesboro. It moved cars, debris flew everywhere. At least 2 people were killed and dozens injured.” Also hit-the state of Kentucky. National Weather Service Meteorologist Robin Smith in Paducah said a tornado touched down near the community of Mannington in
southwestern Kentucky on Friday, destroying a mobile home and injuring two people. The violent weather continues to move east with Georgia/South Carolina and eastern Kentucky under tornado warnings and watches and North Carolina bracing for heavy rain and thunderstorms in the overnight hours.
WILDFIRES-Also not enjoying their Easter Weekend are the residents of Midwest City, Oklahoma. Ryan Owens, reporting from there for WORLD NEWS, said that “more than a hundred homes in this Oklahoma City suburb are gone” and at least 50 people were injured. There wasn’t much firefighters could do in the face of sixty mile per hour winds. As Ryan Owens noted “it was the perfect fire-storm. Those winds that at some points reached hurricane force. Combined with parched land…suffering from months of drought and firefighters didn’t have a chance.” Gov. Brad Henry declared a state of emergency today covering 30 counties across central and southern Oklahoma impacted by Thursday’s devastating wildfires and one county, Le Flore, that suffered damage from a tornado and severe storms. Fire officials in Midwest City believe the fire that torched their town was deliberately set, but that they had no suspects or a motive in mind yet.
STANDOFF AT SEA: Four pirates aboard a lifeboat in the Indian Ocean briefly lost sight of their hostage overnight, as Captain Richard Phillips made a desperate attempt to escape his captors. Martha Raddatz picks up the story from there: “It was near midnight and Phillips suddenly appeared at the opening at the back of the boat..his hands and legs unbound… he leapt into the water and started to swim away. Almost immediately the pirates appeared and began firing their weapons. One of the pirates then jumped into the water, and dragged the captain back to the boat. From an unmanned aerial surveillance aircraft overhead…called "Scan Eagle," the Navy could see that Phillips was then bound and taken back inside the lifeboat.” All of this took place in “seconds” as the lifeboat drifted in the warm waters, several hundred miles off the coast of Somalia. The destroyer USS Bainbridge and a Navy frigate with two helicopters on board are nearby – but are being kept at least 200 yards away. The pirates also have help on the way, including a hijacked ship with hostages aboard. The American skipper has been held since Wednesday, when the pirates attempted to take over his freighter, the Maersk Alabama. That ship is now on its way to Mombasa, Kenya and Jim Sciutto will be there to file for Weekend GMA. (thanks to Ed Bailey for this entry)
MAN CHARGED IN ANGEL PITCHER’S DEATH-Prosecutors have filed three counts of murder against a 22-year-old motorist who allegedly ran a red light and killed Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and two others. The Orange County district attorney’s office today also charged Andrew Thomas Gallo with driving under the influence causing injury, driving with a blood-alcohol level over .08 percent causing injury, and an enhancement that he personally inflicted great bodily injury. The Riverside, CA man was also charged with fleeing the scene. He could receive 55 years to life in prison if convicted of all charges. And guess what? The district attorney said Gallo’s license had been suspended since 2006 and that he had previously pleaded guilty to drunken driving and marijuana possession.