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Iran has confirmed it is holding a US Navy veteran – a development likely to worsen relations between the two countries even further.

Michael White, 46, was arrested in July while visiting his Iranian girlfriend and is being held on unspecified charges, the New York Times reported earlier this week.

His mother, Joanne, said she reported his disappearance after he failed to return to his home in Imperial Beach, California, but the State Department told her only three weeks ago that he was being held in Iran.

He had booked a return flight to San Diego for 27 July, she said.

Mr White, who has acute asthma and has been treated for a tumour in his neck, has been to Iran to see his girlfriend five or six times, she added.

Donald Trump has demanded $5bn of government money for the wall
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Donald Trump has re-imposed sanctions on Iran

Iran’s foreign ministry has not specified when he was arrested, or what he is accused of.

But foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said Iran had notified the US government of White’s arrest within days of it happening.

He added that Mr White had been arrested “some time ago”, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency, which is believed to be close to the country’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.

London-based news website IranWire said Mr White was being held in Vakilabad prison in Mashhad, northeastern Iran.

That was according to a former detainee, Ivar Farhadi, who said Mr White’s life was in danger because the jail contained dangerous inmates.

Reports that Mr White had been poorly treated were denied by Mr Qassemi.

“These sorts of reports are lies and improper and are seriously rejected,” state news agency IRNA quoted him as saying.

Relations between the US and Iran have been strained since President Donald Trump withdrew from an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme.

He also re-imposed sanctions last year that damaged Iran’s economy.

Several US citizens have been held in Iran in recent years, with Mr Trump warning in 2017 that Tehran would face “new and serious consequences” unless all unjustly held American citizens were freed.

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US ‘pipe bombs’: Cesar Sayoc pleads guilty to using weapons of mass destruction | US News

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Cesar Sayoc has pleaded guilty to posting “pipe bombs” to Democrats and critics of US President Donald Trump

The 57-year-old entered his plea in Manhattan, speaking in a shaky voice that at times fell into a whisper.

He admitted to sending 16 devices “designed to look like pipe bombs” consisting of a plastic pipe filled with powder from fireworks and fertiliser, a digital clock and wires.

Cesar Sayoc in an artist's sketch during his appearance in a Miamia federal court
Image:
Cesar Sayoc in an artist’s sketch during an earlier court appearance

At one point, Sayoc began to cry. He said: “I know that these actions were wrong and I am extremely sorry.”

He said it was not his intention for the devices to explode, kill or injure people – but acknowledged he knew there was a risk they could explode.

Sayoc, who had been working as a part-time pizza deliveryman, grocery worker and is a former stripper, faced charges of using weapons of mass destruction, mailing explosives with an intent to kill or injure people or property, and conveying threats through interstate commerce.

He was charged after his fingerprint was found on one of the devices.

Sayoc shared a picture of himself wearing a 'MAGA' hat. Pic: Cesar Sayoc
Image:
Sayoc shared a picture of himself wearing a ‘MAGA’ hat. Pic: Cesar Sayoc

Thirteen explosive devices were sent to several high-profile figures, including Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Robert De Niro.

All of the devices were intercepted before reaching their intended targets and none exploded.

Sayoc faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced on 12 September.

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Cyclone Idai: Aid workers struggle as 12,000 homes and schools destroyed | World News

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I last heard from my small team in Beira at 4.30pm today.

Their homes have been damaged and they are still very anxious but they and their families are all safe.

For the past few days, staff had to travel nine miles (15km) to call us for updates as there was no phone signal.

It was raining heavily the whole time and the waters were rising.

Twelve thousand houses and schools have been destroyed. Pic: Humanity & Inclusion
Image:
Twelve thousand houses and schools have been destroyed. Pic: Humanity & Inclusion

Since this morning they have been able to call from inside the city but the quality is very bad so it is still hard to
communicate and to get all of the details we need.

The latest information is that the rain seems so be slowing down, which is good news, but we are not sure if it will last.



Cyclone Idai







Cyclone Idai is a ‘humanitarian emergency’

The water was at around eight metres (26ft) in many places but now has fallen to around five (16ft) – some internal roads can be used by many of the major routes out of Beira and connecting to rural areas are still impassable.

The airport and the port are starting to function again.

A huge number of people have lost their homes, the agency said. Pic: Humanity & Inclusion
Image:
A huge number of people have lost their homes, the agency said. Pic: Humanity & Inclusion

One priority is access to areas that still haven’t been reached. Humanity and Inclusion’s (HI) logistic expert will arrive in Beira on Saturday to assess the problems and try to co-ordinate a response – clearing roads, co-ordinating transport, organising stocks of aid etc.

A huge number of people have lost their homes, all of their belongings and their crops, so their needs are very far reaching.

Power lines are down after the cyclone. Pic: Humanty and Inclusion
Image:
Power lines are down after the cyclone. Pic: Humanty and Inclusion

In the next few days, protection against diseases will also be essential, including mass vaccination programmes.

We believe more than 600,000 people are affected by the disaster, including 141,000 displaced people. Twelve thousand houses and schools have been destroyed alongside 85,000 hectares of crops.

A satellite image shows the extent of flooding, highlighted in red, around Beira in Mozambique. Pic: European Space Agency
Image:
A satellite image shows the extent of flooding, highlighted in red, around Beira in Mozambique. Pic: European Space Agency

If heavy rains return, the situation will deteriorate.

I can confirm that there are a large number of people in need, including and perhaps especially, people with disabilities.

Agency staff have had to travel 15km to make phone calls. Pic: Humanity & Inclusion
Image:
Agency staff have had to travel 15km to make phone calls. Pic: Humanity & Inclusion

Before the cyclone, HI was working with 137 people with disabilities in Beira, including 28 children. We have not yet been able to confirm where they are, if they are safe and if they have access to humanitarian aid.



Aid workers widen search for Mozambique cyclone survivors as the death toll mounts.







Rescue workers widen search for Mozambique cyclone survivors as the number of dead mounts.

Our focus in the coming days will be the needs of the most vulnerable.

All humanitarian organisations are working in extremely complex conditions.The main challenge over the past days has been the communication network and access to the areas affected.

Pictures showing the scale of the destruction 'speak for themselves'. Pic: Humanity & Inclusion
Image:
Pictures showing the scale of the destruction ‘speak for themselves’. Pic: Humanity & Inclusion

Due to these problems, we still don’t have all of the information we need to be able to fully co-ordinate the response. But we are all working together, ensuring that everyone plays to their strengths.

HI will be focusing on providing logistics support to get the area up and running again and making sure that the most vulnerable survivors have access to appropriate support.

'Access to the areas affected is one of the main challenges'. Pic: Humanity & Inclusion
Image:
‘Access to the areas affected is one of the main challenges’. Pic: Humanity & Inclusion

In any case humanitarian response plan is in place, and the firsts activities will start in a few days.

Due to the communication problems, I haven’t been able to confirm these reports with our team, but the photos showing the scale of the destruction speak for themselves.

People have now been battling impossible conditions for almost a week. We need to reach everybody and provide some relief.

IH is raising funds to support vulnerable people impacted by the cyclone in Mozambique.

To donate to the DEC emergency appeal, visit their website, call the 24-hour hotline 0370 60 60 610, donate at any bank or Post Office or give £5 by texting SKY to 70000.

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Thousands starve as Cyclone Idai’s impact continues in Mozambique | World News

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A large crowd turned as one as we arrived at the Mango Mascarenha primary school. Then, they began to cheer. I think they thought we were bringing them aid and assistance.

But the celebratory shouts soon turned to despair when they realised we were actually journalists.

It was understandable. Who wants to talk about a cyclone and days of torrential rain if you are starving and forced to drink from dirty puddles?

More than 200 people have died in Mozambique
Image:
More than 200 people have died in Mozambique

Two thousand people have been waiting in the school yard for a meal – or cup of porridge they can take home to their families – and they’ve been waiting in this suburb of Beira for days.

One man could not contain himself, saying: “They took our phone numbers and our names three days ago and they said they were bringing supplies but they haven’t done anything.”

The amount of food available is reportedly not enough for the number of mouths which need feeding
Image:
The amount of food available is reportedly not enough for the number of mouths which need feeding
A woman spoke to me softly in English: 'It's bad, everything is very bad.'
Image:
A woman said: ‘It’s bad, everything is very bad.’

A woman spoke to me softly in English. “It’s bad, everything is very bad.”

Cyclone Idai has levelled homes and businesses and disrupted the power supply. It also seems also to have knocked out the government.

My hand was taken by a local government leader who was clearly struggling to deal with this primary school rebellion.

Pensar Ardo Hotela Pamala told me he is responsible for a hundred or so people sheltering in the school after their homes were destroyed in the storm, but he says he cannot look after everyone in the community.

He said: “The government brought supplies according to the number [being sheltered] at the school so when we divide it all up, it is not enough for everyone, that is why we have all this confusion.”

Many in the crowd have not eaten for days
Image:
Many in the crowd have not eaten for days
A satellite image shows the extent of flooding, highlighted in red, around Beira in Mozambique. Pic: European Space Agency
Image:
A satellite image shows the extent of flooding around Beira. Pic: European Space Agency

To make sure his meagre looking grain store is kept safe, Mr Pamala has deployed a soldier with a machine gun at the entrance of classroom three.

But the municipal government leader sounded frustrated.

“Until now we have had nothing from government. Ok, they give us 500kg of [porridge] for 2,000 people. It is not enough, not enough,” he said.

Cyclone Idai left destruction in its wake
Image:
Cyclone Idai left destruction in its wake

A few hundred metres away we witnessed similar scenes of desperation. Three men in a truck carrying a tank of clean water were trying to make a delivery at another primary school.

However, word soon spread that water had arrived and dozens of people ran to the site with their empty containers

What followed next was little short of a brawl as neighbours fought neighbours for a few litres of water. Unable to cope, the crew departed without giving it all away. I saw them swatting young boys away as they made their retreat.

A map showing the path of Cyclone Idai
Image:
A map showing the path of Cyclone Idai








DEC appeals for Cyclone Idai funds

The authorities in Mozambique and the international aid agencies have had a week to assess the scale of this disaster but they are clearly struggling to get aid to those who need it.

Their operations base, at the local airport in Beira, is a hive of activity but the suburb of Mango Mascarenha lies only two or three kilometres away.

To donate to the DEC emergency appeal, visit their website, call the 24-hour hotline 0370 60 60 610, donate at any bank or Post Office or give £5 by texting SKY to 70000.

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