By Greg Lacour WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (Reuters) - Floodwaters inundating South Carolina after unprecedented rainfall have resulted in nine deaths, more than 500 road and bridge closures and hundreds of rescues of people trapped in their homes by the rising water, officials said on Monday. Governor Nikki Haley warned residents to remain on alert as rain continued to fall in some of the hardest-hit areas, including the state capital of Columbia, which saw its wettest days on record over the weekend. "This is not the time to take pictures." More than 2 feet of rain have fallen in the past three days in some areas of South Carolina, and moderate to heavy rain persisted on Monday in the already saturated northeastern corner of that state and southeastern North Carolina, the National Weather Service said.
The U.S. Coast Guard believes the missing cargo ship El Faro sank after it was caught in the path of Hurricane Joaquin, a spokesman said on Monday. Rescuers were continuing "an active search" for survivors, Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Bobby Nash said in Miami. The 735-foot (224-meter) container ship, with 28 U.S. citizens and five Polish nationals aboard, had left Jacksonville, Florida on Tuesday, for San Juan, Puerto Rico.
When a gunman killed eight students and a teacher at an Oregon college last week, he also revived a debate on the need to change firearm laws and whether the school's "gun-free zone" policy only made easier for him. President Barack Obama quickly pleaded for stricter gun laws to prevent similar tragedies, angering conservatives such as Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee. "It's clear that gun-free zones are sitting-duck zones," Huckabee said.
By Susan Cooper Eastman JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Reuters) - Search-and-rescue teams on Sunday located debris appearing to belong to the cargo ship El Faro, which went missing in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin with 33 mostly American crew members aboard more than three days ago, the U.S. Coast Guard and the ship's owner said. There was no sighting of the El Faro or any lifeboats, Tim Nolan, president of ship's owner Tote Maritime Puerto Rico, said in a statement. With no word on the fate of the crew, relatives gathered at a seafarers' union hall in Jacksonville, Florida where an emotional meeting was held late on Sunday afternoon with the Coast Guard and Tote Maritime executives.
By Harriet McLeod CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - Torrential rainfall that South Carolina's governor called a once-in-a-millennium downpour triggered flooding in the southeastern U.S. state on Sunday, causing at least eight deaths in the Carolinas. The storm had dumped more than 20 inches (50 cm) of rain in parts of central South Carolina since Friday, the National Weather Service said. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said parts of the state were hit with rainfall that would be expected to occur once in 1,000 years, with the Congaree River at its highest level since 1936.
By Harriet McLeod CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - Torrential rainfall that South Carolina's governor called a once-in-a-millennium downpour flooded the southeastern U.S. state on Sunday, causing at least seven deaths in the Carolinas. The storm had dumped more than 18 inches (45 cm) of rain in parts of central South Carolina by early Sunday. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said parts of the state were hit with rainfall that would be expected to occur once in 1,000 years, with the Congaree River running at its highest level since 1936.
By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court are set to wade into contentious social matters in their new term beginning on Monday including affirmative action, union powers and voting rights, and could add major cases involving abortion and birth control. The justices, five appointed by Republican presidents and four by Democrats, often divide along ideological and political lines on pressing social issues. In a major battle over the future of affirmative action in college admissions, the justices for a second time will consider a lawsuit brought by Abigail Fisher, a white applicant who was denied admission to the entering class of 2008 at the University of Texas at Austin.
By Courtney Sherwood and Emily Flitter ROSEBURG, Ore. (Reuters) - The gunman who killed his English professor and eight others at an Oregon community college committed suicide after a shootout with police who arrived within five minutes and exchanged fire with him almost immediately, authorities said. Investigators had previously said the 26-year-old shooter was killed by the officers who raced to the rampage at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, which ranks as the deadliest among dozens of U.S. mass shootings in the past two years. Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin told a news conference on Saturday the state medical examiner had determined that the gunman, Christopher Harper-Mercer, took his own life.
A gas explosion and fire that ripped off the facade of a three-story building in New York on Saturday, killing one person and injuring three, might have been caused by a tenant moving out a stove, fire officials said. More than 200 firefighters battled the four-alarm blaze in the borough of Brooklyn after it was reported to the New York Fire Department at 1:05 p.m., Mayor Bill de Blasio and Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro told a news conference. Although severe structural damage had prevented fire officials from entering the building, Nigro said he thought the fire originated on the second floor.
By Harriet McLeod CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - U.S. Coast Guard pilots found a life ring from the cargo ship El Faro on Saturday, the first trace of the vessel since it went missing two days earlier with 33 mostly American crew members on board, as powerful Hurricane Joaquin moved toward Bermuda. A search-and-rescue crew found the life ring in waters to the northeast of Crooked Island in the Bahamas, about 75 miles (120 km) from the ship's last known position before it went missing on Thursday morning, the Coast Guard said. "Because we found a life ring, the assumption can be made that we are searching in the right area," said Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios.