US Grants Temporary Protection Status to Thousands of Haitians

The Biden administration on Saturday extended special protections to Haitians living temporarily in the United States after being displaced by a devastating 2010 earthquake, reversing efforts by the previous administration to force them to leave the country.

The decision, announced by the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, makes good on President Biden’s campaign promise to restore a program that shields thousands of Haitian migrants from the threat of deportation under the restrictive policies put in place under President Donald J. Trump.

Mr. Mayorkas said the new 18-month designation, known as temporary protected status, would apply to Haitians already living in the United States as of Friday.

“Haiti is currently experiencing serious security concerns, social unrest, an increase in human rights abuses, crippling poverty, and lack of basic resources, which are exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Mr. Mayorkas said in a statement on Saturday.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The Obama administration granted the temporary protected status to Haitians living in the United States illegally after the 7.0-magnitude earthquake in January 2010.

Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the new designation could protect as many as 150,000 Haitians from having to return to the political and security crisis in their home country.

“The last thing our country should be doing is forcing an entire community in the U.S. to decide between packing up their lives and tearing their families apart by self-deporting, or becoming undocumented and forced into the shadows of our society,” Mr. Menendez said in a statement on Saturday.

As part of its hard-line efforts to curb legal and illegal immigration, the Trump administration sought to end protections for about 400,000 immigrants living in the United States, including Haitians. Officials at the time said that the emergency conditions that had compelled the immigrants to flee their countries — earthquakes, hurricanes, civil war — had occurred long ago and that most of the immigrants no longer needed the haven provided by the United States.

Lawsuits blocked the cancellations, but in September a federal appeals court sided with the Trump administration, putting hundreds of thousands of immigrants on notice that they would have to leave the country or face deportation. Many of the people affected had been living in the United States for years. The Trump administration agreed to keep the protections in place at least through early 2021, meaning a new administration could decide to continue the policy.

wrote on Twitter.

In March, the Biden administration issued special protections for as many as 320,000 Venezuelans living in the United States, citing the extraordinary humanitarian crisis in the country under the leadership of President Nicolás Maduro.

But some said more needed to be done to give many of those immigrants permission to live in the United States permanently.

“Haitians have been living in uncertainty for the past several months,” Erika Andiola, the chief advocacy officer for the nonprofit organization Raices, said in a statement. “In the future, that uncertainly could be solved by a permanent fix through legislation that puts T.P.S. holders on the path to citizenship,” she added, using the abbreviation for the program.

This month, the House passed a bill that would create a path to citizenship for an estimated four million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, including those granted temporary protected status for humanitarian reasons. The bill passed mostly along party lines, and getting it through the more evenly divided Senate is likely to be a challenge.

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2 Climbers Die on Everest as Covid Rampages Through Nepal

KATHMANDU, Nepal — Two climbers, a Swiss-Pakistani and an American, have died on Mount Everest, the first fatalities of a busy climbing season as a second wave of the coronavirus batters Nepal.

The expedition company that organized their climbs, Seven Summit Treks, said both men were experienced mountaineers who lost consciousness around Mount Everest’s “death zone,” an area above 8,000 meters (about 26,000 feet) named for its thin air and brutal weather.

When the climbers died on Wednesday, the wind had picked up on Everest. Climbing tourists and most of the Nepalese guides who aid them turned away from the summit on Thursday as weather conditions grew more severe.

Puwei Liu, 55, an experienced climber from California, died at the first camp below the peak after making an unsuccessful summit attempt on Wednesday, according to Chhang Dawa Sherpa, a Seven Summit Treks director.

hourslong traffic jams that can occur on the overcrowded path to the peak.

Nepal’s tourism department and the agency that organized their expedition ruled out any possible link to the coronavirus that is ravaging the small Himalayan country. Instead, they blamed high-altitude sickness. However, as with many of the hundreds who have died attempting Everest, no autopsies were planned, because of the bodies’ remote locations.

“No Covid. They died of altitude sickness. Had they Covid, they wouldn’t be able to reach at that height,” said Mingma Sherpa, Seven Summit Treks’ chairman.

virus safeguards imposed before the climbing season have worked.

Off the peaks, Nepal’s health care system is under incredible strain because of a rash of new cases, mirroring the ferocity of the second wave in neighboring India.

With hospitals running out of beds, vaccine in short supply and infections rising faster than clinics can record them, Nepal’s health ministry deemed the situation “unmanageable” last week.

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Puerto Rico Lifts Some Restrictions as Cases Plunge

The number of coronavirus cases in Puerto Rico is declining precipitously after soaring to record heights in March and April.

The U.S. territory experienced its worst outbreak of the pandemic this spring, with the seven-day average of new daily reported cases surging to a peak of 1,109 on April 20 from about 200 a day in mid-March.

The spike was driven by a confluence of factors, including the arrival of more contagious variants, a tide of spring break tourists and celebrations tied to Holy Week.

In early April, Gov. Pedro R. Pierluisi shut down in-person instruction at schools, reduced indoor capacity at restaurants and businesses and moved a nightly curfew up to 10 p.m. He also required tourists to present negative coronavirus tests, or face a $300 fine.

New York Times database. About 38 percent of people have received one dose of a Covid vaccine, and 26 percent are fully vaccinated.

lock down to try to contain the spread of the coronavirus, another blow to an island that suffered the ravages of Hurricane Maria in 2017, including a nearly yearlong loss of electricity; earthquakes in 2020; and a prolonged financial crisis.

On Thursday, Mr. Pierluisi announced that in-person school could resume, the nightly curfew would be pushed back to midnight and stores’ opening hours could stretch to 11 p.m. But he left in place the tighter capacity restrictions on some businesses and the tourist test requirement.

Reopening too soon had contributed to some earlier spikes, said Mónica Feliú-Mójer, a biologist and director of communications for Ciencia Puerto Rico, a nonprofit group that supports Puerto Rican researchers.

Dr. Feliú-Mójer said that even though cases appeared to be declining, they were still considerably higher than they had been before the recent surge. And she said she was concerned that the Mother’s Day holiday on Sunday could cause another spike.

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Social Media as ‘Godsend’: In India, Cries for Help Get Results

NEW DELHI — Rajni Gill woke up with a slight fever in mid-April, the first warning that she had Covid-19. Within a few days, she was breathless and nearly unconscious in a hospital.

Desperate to arrange plasma treatment for Ms. Gill, a gynecologist in the city of Noida, her family called doctors, friends, anyone they thought could help. Then her sister posted a plea on Facebook: “I am looking for a plasma donor for my sister who is hospitalized in Noida. She is B positive and is 43.”

The message, quickly amplified on Twitter, flashed across the phone of Srinivas B.V., an opposition politician in nearby Delhi, who was just then securing plasma for a college student. He deputized a volunteer donor to rush to the blood bank for Ms. Gill.

“The administration and systems have collapsed,” Mr. Srinivas said. “I have never seen so many people dying at the same time.”

tuk-tuk drivers, who have mobilized online to help the sick, some of them hundreds of miles away. Collectively, they have formed grass-roots networks that are stepping in where state and national governments have failed.

It is a role that Mr. Srinivas, 38, has played before in times of crisis.

As the president of the opposition Indian National Congress party’s youth league, he has provided support after natural disasters, including earthquakes and floods. He has worked to get textbooks to underprivileged children and medicine to people who couldn’t afford it.

India locked down, Mr. Srinivas galvanized young volunteers across the country who distributed food for stranded migrants, along with more than 10 million masks. He now heads a team of 1,000 people, including 100 in Delhi, the center of the current outbreak.

84-second video explaining his techniques so that others can use them.

got a lot of attention, given the intense criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s handling of the pandemic. (The commission said its appeal had been “misinterpreted, for which we are sorry.”)

Mr. Srinivas’s volunteers use direct messaging to collect data on people needing help, then classify them by risk profile. They work with people on the ground to arrange hospital beds and plasma donations for the most serious cases. Others are put in touch with doctors who can provide remote consultations.

Often, the system’s deficiencies are too great to overcome.

Mahua Ray Chaudhuri frantically tagged Mr. Srinivas looking for oxygen for her sick father. His team found some, but that wasn’t enough: No I.C.U. beds were available.

“At least I could get him oxygen, and he died breathing,” Ms. Chaudhuri said by telephone, breaking down. “This help from strangers on Twitter was like a balm for our disturbed minds and souls.”

But Mr. Srinivas’s team was able to get plasma for Ms. Gill, the gynecologist, just in time. She is now recuperating in a hospital on the outskirts of Delhi.

“I feel choked with emotions,” she said. “Coming out of such a fatal time, I realize I have been helped selflessly by complete strangers.”

She recently called Mr. Srinivas to thank him. “Though I have never met her, it was a humbling experience hearing her voice,” he said. “I am so relieved she made it.”

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Indonesia Submarine Crew Sang a Farewell Song, Weeks Before Sinking

Below deck on their submarine, Indonesian sailors crowded around a crewman with a guitar and crooned a pop song called “Till We Meet Again.”

Weeks later, the same sailors vanished deep beneath the Pacific Ocean while descending for a torpedo drill, setting off a frantic international search. Indonesian military officials said on Sunday, four days after the vessel disappeared, that it had broken into three pieces hundreds of meters below the surface, leaving no survivors among the 53 crew members.

Now, the video of the submariners singing is resonating across Indonesian social media, in a nation where many people are jaded by a steady stream of bad news: devastating earthquakes, erupting volcanoes and sinking ferries.

composed the song, wrote on Instagram below a clip of the sailors’ performance.

paid their respects to the spirit world, consulting with seers or collecting what they believed were magic tokens, for example.

told The New York Times in 2018 that he made a point of incorporating local wisdom and traditional beliefs while communicating the science of disasters.

“The cultural approach works better than just science and technology,” Mr. Sutopo said. “If people think that it is punishment from God, it makes it easier for them to recover.”

The latest diaster struck last week, when a 44-year-old submarine, the Nanggala, disappeared before dawn during training exercises north of the Indonesian island of Bali. Search crews from the United States, India, Malaysia, Australia and Singapore later helped the Indonesian Navy hunt for the vessel in the Bali Sea.

For a few days, naval experts worried that the sub might run out of oxygen. Then the navy confirmed over the weekend that it had fractured and sank to a deep seabed.

Among the items a remote-controlled submersible found at the crash site was a tattered orange escape suit.

a melancholic version by the Indonesian singer Tami Aulia has more than nine million page views on YouTube.

But Mr. Soekamti said his band now avoids playing it and recently declined to include it on an upcoming live album.

“I am sad,” he said, “and, in a way, afraid.”

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Quake Strikes Java in Indonesia, Killing at Least 6 People

MALANG, Indonesia — A strong earthquake killed at least six people and damaged buildings on Indonesia’s main island, Java, on Saturday and shook the tourist hot spot of Bali, officials said.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake, of magnitude-6.0, had struck off the island’s southern coast at 2 p.m. local time. It was centered in waters south of the Malang District in East Java Province and had a depth of 51 miles.

Falling rocks killed a woman on a motorcycle and badly injured her husband in East Java’s Lumajang district, said Raditya Jati, a spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency.

He said dozens of homes had been damaged across the district, and rescuers had retrieved two bodies from the rubble of collapsed homes in the district’s Kali Uling village. Two people were also confirmed to have been killed in an area bordering Lumajang and Malang districts, and one person was found dead under rubble in Malang.

Television reports showed people running in panic from malls and buildings in several cities in East Java Province.

Indonesia’s search and rescue agency released videos and photos of damaged houses and buildings, including a ceiling at a hospital in Blitar, a city neighboring Malang. The authorities were still collecting information about the extent of casualties and damage in the affected areas.

The quake was the second deadly disaster to hit Indonesia this past week. Last Sunday, a downpour resulting from Tropical Cyclone Seroja killed at least 165 people and damaged thousands of houses. Some were buried in either mudslides or solidified lava from a volcanic eruption in November, while others were swept away by flash flooding.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 270 million people, is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.

In January, a magnitude-6.2 earthquake killed at least 105 people and injured nearly 6,500, while more than 92,000 were displaced, after striking Mamuju and Majene districts in West Sulawesi Province.

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Floods and Mudslides in Eastern Indonesia Leave at Least 41 Dead

The fatal alchemy of mud, water and sheer force struck in eastern Indonesia at an hour past midnight on Sunday, killing at least 41 people, disaster-relief officials said.

Flash flooding and landslides submerged entire neighborhoods in East Nusa Tenggara Province, which includes more than 560 islands. Seven villages were badly affected, according to Raditya Jati, a spokesman for Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency. Twenty-seven people were missing, and nine were injured, he said.

Some of the worst damage was on the remote island of Adonara, where many residents were preparing to celebrate Easter Sunday. Torrential rain and strong winds had churned since the day before. The damage left dozens of houses under mud and water. Five bridges were severed, Mr. Raditya said.

The rescue effort has been hampered because the only access to Adonara is by sea, and waters are choppy because of the heavy rain, he said. But the priority is to ensure that survivors are moved to areas safe from further flooding or landslides.

plane crashes, boat accidents and other transportation lapses.

In January, landslides killed about 40 people on Java, Indonesia’s most populous island. There, a further mudslide hit after disaster management officials had gathered to help with search and rescue efforts. The chief of a local disaster relief agency and a captain in the Indonesian Army were among those killed.

Rampant deforestation in Indonesia has contributed to the risk of such disasters, leaving soil loose and at risk of coalescing into deadly mud flows when torrential rains come.

Before this weekend, the national meteorology department had warned of high rain intensity, Mr. Raditya said. But many residents of small, far-flung islands like Adonara have few safe places to shelter.

“I think the biggest challenge will be how to utilize heavy equipment,” Mr. Raditya said, referring to efforts to dig out people and homes in hopes of finding survivors.

But given the communications challenges, Mr. Raditya said he was not sure if adequate equipment was available on Adonara.

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Seven Infrastructure Problems in Urgent Need of Fixing

Engineers say that when infrastructure works, most people do not even think about it. But they recognize it when they turn on a faucet and water does not come out, when they see levees eroding or when they inch through traffic, the driver’s awareness of the highway growing mile after creeping mile.

President Biden has announced an ambitious $2 trillion infrastructure plan that would pump huge sums of money into improving the nation’s bridges, roads, public transportation, railways, ports and airports.

The plan faces opposition from Republicans and business groups, who point to the enormous cost and the higher corporate taxes that Mr. Biden has proposed to pay for it.

Still, leaders in both parties have long seen infrastructure as a possible unifying issue. Urban and rural communities, red and blue states, the coasts and the middle of the country: All are confronting weak and faltering infrastructure.

plagued by delays and cancellations, with similar problems affecting railways along the Northeast Corridor.

bridge has remained a source of frustration. Rusty and creaky, it has been listed as “functionally obsolete” in the federal bridge inventory since the 1990s, and it has a history of bottlenecks and crashes.

There is a $2.5 billion plan to fix the bridge and build a new one alongside it, but in Covington, Ky., some have expressed worries about the proposal. The mayor told The Cincinnati Enquirer that it was an “existential threat,” citing the size of the proposed bridge (some traffic would still cross over the old one, as well).

told local reporters at a news conference on Wednesday. “Hopefully somewhere in the bowels of this multitrillion bill, there’s a solution.”

Puerto Rico

a serious earthquake on Jan. 7.

The collapse brought attention to the more than 600 schools on the island that shared a “short column” architectural design, which makes them vulnerable to tremors. Teachers and parents were wary of reopening, and the schools with that design risk remain closed. Children who had gone to them are still learning remotely.

In addition, nearly 60 schools were closed after inspections following the earthquakes showed structural deficiencies. About 25 had “persistent” problems that predated the earthquake and its aftershocks, Puerto Rico’s education secretary told The New York Times last year.

residents went weeks with a boil notice in place.

The water crisis inflamed enduring tensions in Jackson, ones that grip many communities where white residents have fled and tax bases have evaporated. The city has old and broken pipes. It does not have the funding to repair them. City officials estimated that modernizing Jackson’s water infrastructure could cost $2 billion.

The storm also caused power failures for millions of people across Texas, which has prompted lawmakers there to weigh an overhaul of the state’s electric infrastructure. At least 111 people died as a result of the storm, according to state officials, and it also caused widespread property damage and left some residents to face huge electric bills.

conclusions were stark: A historic flooding event had caught up with years of underfunding and neglect.

The country has roughly 91,000 dams, a majority of which are more than 50 years old, and many are an exceptional rainfall away from potential disaster. As dams have aged, the weather has grown more severe, rendering old building standards outdated and creating conditions that few considered when many of the dams were built.

Residential development has also steadily spread into once rural areas that lie downstream from the weakening infrastructure. According to the Association of State Dam Safety Officials, about 15,600 dams in the country would most likely cause death and extensive property damage if they failed. Of those, more than 2,330 are considered deficient, the group said.

is not likely to let up soon, given new weather patterns driven by climate change. And some of the officials whose towns and cities were most affected by the 2019 floods are adamant: Simply refurbishing levees is not going to work anymore.

“Levees aren’t going to do it,” said Colin Wellenkamp, the executive director of Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative, an association of 100 mayors along the Mississippi River. His group presented a plan to the White House last month detailing a “systemic solution” to flooding. It includes replacing wetlands, reconnecting backwaters to the main river and opening up areas for natural flooding.

A plan that simply replaces infrastructure, rather than rethinking what it encompasses, will be ineffective and ultimately unaffordable, Mr. Wellenkamp said. He is not sure whether his group’s proposals have been folded into the Biden plan. But he sees little choice.

“This is a losing game unless we incorporate other, larger solutions,” he said.

Campbell Robertson and Frances Robles contributed reporting.

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Japan Earthquake Is Followed by Tsumani Warning

A 7.2-magnitude earthquake shook northeastern Japan on Saturday evening, prompting a tsunami warning that was quickly lifted.

The quake, which hit just after 6 p.m., lasted for over 30 seconds and could be felt strongly in Tokyo, hundreds of miles from the epicenter.

The epicenter was roughly 35 miles below the ocean’s floor off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture, according to the Japan Meterological Agency. The authorities initially warned of the possibility of a tsunami of about 3 feet, but the warning was soon lifted.

earthquake and tsunami that devastated Fukushima Prefecture, also in the northeast, and led to a triple nuclear meltdown.

Power was out in some parts of Miyagi, just north of Fukushima, NHK said.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, which maintains the disabled plants in Fukushima, said on Twitter that it was checking for damage there. Another utility, Tohoku Electric, wrote that it was checking the status of a nuclear power facility on Miyagi’s coast.

JR East said it had temporarily halted service on part of the high-speed rail system that it operates in the country’s northeast.

Hikari Hida contributed reporting.

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