Workers escape elevator flooded by record rains

Two New York City construction workers barely escaped drowning in an elevator as storms dropped record rains over the weekend on parts of the nation’s eastern half.

One of the workers, cabinetmaker Ed Tyler, of Milltown, N.J., said Monday that he and colleague Wendell Amaker, of Roselle, N.J., were happy to be alive after their ordeal.

The storm dropped nearly 8 inches of rain on New York’s Kennedy Airport on Sunday and nearly 5 in Philadelphia, setting city records.

Tyler and Amaker were moving materials for a senior center being built on Staten Island, N.Y.
Around 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Tyler and Amaker were using an elevator to get supplies to a basement that, unknown to them, was filling up with floodwaters.

After they got in, the doors would not open, though they pressed buttons in vain.

“We hit the water; we heard swishing,” Tyler said. Then the water started pouring in.
Fearing electrocution, they jumped into a rubberized utility cart.

Of their two cellphones, one was wet and one had no signal. Finally, almost an hour after they became trapped, one cellphone suddenly caught a signal and they called 911.

In a few minutes, fire rescuers arrived, shut off power to the elevator and hoisted the men out through the ceiling hatch with a ladder.

No deaths or serious injuries were reported from the record cloudbursts.


U.S. tourist held by police in woman’s disappearance

A judge ruled Monday that Aruban prosecutors have enough evidence against an American tourist to continue holding him while they investigate the disappearance of his travel companion.

Police led businessman Gary V. Giordano into a van to be taken to jail after the closed hearing inside the police station where he has been held since he was arrested while trying to leave the Dutch Caribbean island.

Giordano, 50, of Gaithersburg, Md., has told police that his travel companion, Robyn Gardner, 35, of Frederick, Md., disappeared while they were snorkeling Aug. 2.

The prosecutor’s office said in a statement that Giordano is “suspected of involvement in the possible drowning” of Gardner, whose body has not been found.


Palestinian refugees flee camp after Syrians shell city

More than 5,000 Palestinian refugees have fled a camp in the besieged Syrian city of Latakia after President Bashar Assad’s forces shelled the city during a broad military assault to root out dissent, the U.N. said Monday.

UNRWA, the U.N. agency that aids Palestinian refugees, said the Palestinians fled after Latakia came under fire from gunboats cruising off the coast and ground troops attacking the city over the weekend.

“We are calling for access to the camp to find out what is going on,” said UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness. “There were 10,000 refugees in the camp, and we need to find out what is happening to them.”

Assad has dramatically escalated the crackdown on a five-month-old uprising since the start of the holy month of Ramadan.

On Monday, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu threatened unspecified “steps” if Syria fails to end the bloodshed.