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Ex-soldier and two paddleboarders die after he tries to rescue them

paddleboarders

Ex-soldier and two paddleboarders die after he tries to rescue them

A father of three died after trying to save two struggling paddleboarders in south-west Wales on Saturday, in an “absolutely heartbreaking” incident.

Paul O’Dwyer died along with two female paddleboarders he was trying to help. A third woman was reported to be in a critical condition.

O’Dwyer, 42, a former soldier, jumped into the water in an attempt to rescue two women in distress, but was later pronounced dead on the banks of the River Cleddau in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire.

“Paul put his own life on the line yesterday to make sure others were safe,” said a spokesperson for Aberavon Green Stars RFC, a rugby club O’Dwyer belonged to.

The club paid tribute to O’Dwyer’s “infectious smile” and upbeat character, describing him as an “avid adventurer, whether he would be paddleboarding, surfing, skiing, walking or climbing, nothing was too small for Paul to achieve”.

A group of nine paddleboarders were exploring the river on a weekend excursion when they got into difficulty near a weir. Dyfed-Powys police said they received reports of persons in distress shortly after 9am on Saturday.

Emergency services – including 30 firefighters, the coastguard, RNLI and police helicopters – arrived at the scene and five people were rescued without injury.

But O’Dwyer and two women lost their lives and another woman was being treated in intensive care at a local hospital on Sunday.

O’Dwyer died “attempting to save two of the girls also in distress due to an unexpected downpour”, said Vickie Mckinven, who was on the trip but pulled out of the morning paddleboard over weather concerns.

It is “absolutely heartbreaking”, Mckinven said, adding that O’Dwyer “did so much to raise money for charities”.

O’Dwyer cofounded charity SA1UTE, which supports veterans in south Wales, and previously was a soldier with the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers 108 Welsh Squadron militia.

“He was relentless in his drive for raising money for charity,” SA1UTE said in a tribute to O’Dwyer, adding: “We have lost a friend that gave so much of his life to help others. It still hasn’t sunk in, that these tragic events have taken away someone in the prime of their life.

“Paul had a real zest for life and always took things head on with a smile on his face.”

O’Dwyer helped raise more than £4,000 for charity in recent weeks by paddling down the River Wye in 24 hours, navigating the 100 miles from Glasbury to Tintern Abbey. He also organised an event in September that raised more than £2,000 for the RNLI and a local lifeguard club.

Dyfed-Powys police said the victims’ next of kin were being supported by specialist officers.

DCI Jonathan Rees said police were investigating what provoked the tragedy, and called on the public to report any information or submit potential video footage.

“At this stage, my thoughts and the thoughts of my colleagues are with the family of those who lost loved ones, and of the injured person who remains in hospital,” DCI Rees said.

DCI Rees urged the public – with paddleboarding growing in popularity – to “ensure they understand the weather conditions and water conditions at a particular location where they may be enjoying that sport”.

Salty Dog Co, a watersports clothing shop based in Port Talbot that was involved in the excursion, paid tribute to O’Dwyer.

“It is with heavy heart that we say goodbye to our salty dog Paul,” Salty Dog tweeted on Saturday.

“A lovely human being taken too soon. Our thoughts and prayers are with your friends and family. You will be missed greatly.”

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Supreme Court Dismisses Suit Challenging Adeleke’s Candidacy

The Supreme Court has affirmed Ademola Adeleke as the authentic candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the just concluded Osun State Governorship Election.

This has laid to rest the suit filed by Dotun Babayemi, a governorship aspirant of the party who sought the invalidation of Adeleke’s victory.

In a judgement delivered by Justice Amina Augie, the five-member panel held that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit after counsel for the appellant, Adebayo Adelodun, withdrew the earlier notice of appeal that was filed within time.

At the resumed hearing, Adelodun, who represented the appellant and Babayemi informed the court that he sought to withdraw the earlier notice of appeal to replace it with the fresh application he filed.

But the panel held that Section 285(11) of the constitution stipulated that an appeal on a pre-election matter must be filed within 14 days from the day of the decision, and that having filed the second appeal out of time, the apex court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

Justice Augie, therefore, dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Babayemi had asked the court to invalidate the primary election that produced the governor-elect, citing non-compliance with a court order.

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400 Staff To Lose Jobs As BBC Goes Digital

The British Broadcasting Corporation BBC world service has on Thursday disclosed that about 400 of its staff will lose their jobs as part of a cost-cutting programme and move to digital platforms,

The BBC said its international services needed to make savings of £28.5 million ($31 million) as part of wider reductions of £500 million.

In July it detailed plans to merge BBC World News television and its domestic UK equivalent into a single channel to launch in April next year.

BBC World Service currently operates in 40 languages around the world with a weekly audience of some 364 million people.

But the corporation said audience habits were changing and more people were accessing news online, which along with a freeze on BBC funding and increased operating costs meant a move to “digital-first” made financial sense.

BBC World Service director Liliane Landor said there was a “compelling case” for expanding digital services, as audiences had more than doubled since 2018.

“The way audiences are accessing news and content is changing and the challenge of reaching and engaging people around the world with quality, trusted journalism is growing,” she added.

 

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Environment

Hurricane Ian: Cities flooded and power cut as storm crosses Florida

Hurricane Ian: Cities flooded and power cut as storm crosses Florida

Hurricane Ian made landfall at around 15:10 local time (19:10 GMT) on Wednesday, smashing into the coast with wind speeds of up to 241km/h (150mph).

Dramatic scenes saw a hospital roof blown off, cars submerged and trees ripped out of the ground.

The category four hurricane was later downgraded to a tropical storm.

However, Floridians were warned that the most dangerous 24 hours lay ahead and the mayor of Tampa urged people to shelter in place through the night into Thursday morning.

“We are going to get the majority of the rain and the higher winds starting about 20:00, and they are going to last throughout the night,” Jane Castor said during a Wednesday evening briefing.

In a message posted on Facebook, the Weather Prediction Center told residents in the Central Florida Peninsula to expect “widespread life-threatening, catastrophic flash and urban flooding” continuing into Friday morning, with potentially up to 76cm (30ins) of rain falling locally.

Residents were ordered to leave their homes, but many have decided to remain and seek shelter indoors.

Mark Pritchett, who lives in the city of Venice, some 95km (60 miles) south of Tampa, described the “terrifying” moment he stepped outside his home as the hurricane made its way across the Gulf of Mexico.

“Rain shooting like needles. My street is a river,” he said in a text message to the Associated Press news agency.

In Lee County – the south-west region where Ian made landfall – police were prevented from responding to reports of looting at a petrol station because of the storm damage.

As a result, a curfew has been declared “until further notice”.

Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais said that the Fort Myers community had “been – to some extent – decimated”. According to news agency AFP, some neighbourhoods in the city of 80,000 had been left resembling lakes.

State Governor Ron DeSantis described Ian as the “biggest flood event” south-west Florida had ever seen, and announced that 7,000 National Guard troops are ready to lead rescue operations in flood zones.

President Joe Biden will receive a briefing on Thursday from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Ian is now continuing to move north through Florida. Jacksonville International Airport, based in north-east Florida, cancelled all flights scheduled for Thursday.

The storm is forecast to emerge into the Atlantic by Thursday morning.

It is expected to reach Georgia and South Carolina on Friday. Virginia has also joined Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida by declaring a state of emergency.

Cuba’s western coast was hit by Hurricane Ian on Tuesday. Power has now been restored in some areas after the island was plunged into a total blackout. Two people are understood to have been killed in Cuba and more than 20 Cuban migrants are believed to be missing at sea.

Predicted path of Hurricane Ian. Updated 27 September

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