Australia and Oceania

Australian economy shows ‘weak’ growth

SYDNEY, June 5, 2024 (AFP) – Australia’s resource-rich economy posted anaemic growth in the first quarter, official data showed Wednesday, deepening concerns about a double-whammy of low growth and still high prices. Growth slowed to 0.1 percent in the quarter, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported, using seasonally adjusted data. The economy had grown 0.3 percent in the last quarter of 2023. Economists predict tepid growth — coupled with still-high inflation — will tie the […]

High likelihood’ of more landslides at Papua New Guinea disaster site: govt report

PORT MORESBY, June 4, 2024 (AFP) – Papua New Guinea authorities have warned there is a high risk of more landslides at the site of a recent deadly disaster, with government experts demanding the area be evacuated and declared a “no-go-zone”. A draft internal report by Papua New Guinea’s mining and geohazards department, obtained by AFP on Tuesday, warns that the highland community where hundreds are feared to have died on May 24 needs to […]

Aid reaches Papua New Guinea landslide site

PORT MORESBY, May 29, 2024 (AFP) – Supplies of food and medicine were beginning to arrive at the scene of a deadly landslide in Papua New Guinea Wednesday, with aid workers discovering children rendered mute by the shock of the disaster. Papua New Guinea’s government estimates that 2,000 people may be buried underneath a massive landslide that struck a thriving highland settlement in Enga province in the early hours of May 24. After days of […]

Papua New Guinea faces new devastating landslide; evacuation underway for 7,900

PORT MORESBY, May 28, 2024 (AFP) – Papua New Guinea moved to evacuate an estimated 7,900 people from remote villages near the site of a deadly landslide on Tuesday, as authorities warned of further slips. Some 2,000 people are already feared buried in a landslide that destroyed a remote highland community in the early hours of May 24. With rescue and relief efforts hampered by the remote location, a severed road link, heavy rainfall and […]

Magnitude 6.6 earthquake strikes near Tonga: USGS

WELLINGTON, May 26, 2024 (AFP) – A magnitude 6.6 earthquake rattled the Pacific nation of Tonga on Monday, the United States Geological Survey said, but there was no threat of a tsunami. The quake struck at 9:47 am local time from a depth of about 112 kilometres (69 miles), according to the USGS, and was centred in a patch of ocean about 198 kilometres (123 miles) north of Tonga’s capital Nuku’alofa. There were no immediate […]

UN raises Papua New Guinea landslide death toll estimate to 670

PORT MORESBY, May 26, 2024 (AFP) – More than 670 people are believed to have died after a massive landslide in Papua New Guinea, a UN official told AFP on Sunday as aid workers and villagers braved perilous conditions in their desperate search for survivors. “There are an estimated 150-plus houses now buried” said UN migration agency official Serhan Aktoprak, adding that “670-plus people are assumed dead”. “The situation is terrible with the land still […]

Low-lying Maldives seeks easier funding to battle waves

MALÉ, Maldives, May 25, 2024 (AFP) – The Maldives on Saturday demanded international funding to battle rising sea levels, saying the low-lying Indian Ocean archipelago was being unfairly excluded from the most generous support measures. “The Maldives is liable for just 0.003 percent of global emissions, but is one of the first countries to endure the existential consequences of the climate crisis,” President Mohamed Muizzu wrote in Britain’s Guardian newspaper. “Wealthier nations have a moral […]

Massive landslide hits Papua New Guinea, many feared dead

PORT MORESBY, May 24, 2024 (AFP) – A massive landslide struck remote villages in Papua New Guinea’s highlands Friday, with many homes buried and scores of residents feared dead. The disaster hit an isolated part of Enga province at around 3:00 am local time, according to government officials, when many villagers were at home asleep. Provincial governor Peter Ipatas told AFP that “there has been a big landslide causing loss of life and property”. He […]

Third time could prove lucky for aurora viewers around the world

By Issam AHMED with AFP bureaus around the world WASHINGTON, May 13, 2024 (AFP) – Anyone who missed the dazzling auroras dancing across night skies earlier this weekend will get another chance Sunday evening, as the powerful geomagnetic storm hitting the Earth is expected to intensify yet again. “Several intense Coronal Mass Ejections are still anticipated to reach the Earth’s outer atmosphere by later today,” the US National Weather Service said. Those ejections — expulsions […]

Second night of auroras seen ‘extreme’ solar storm

  By Lucie AUBOURG with AFP bureaus around the world WASHINGTON, May 12, 2024 (AFP) – Auroras lit up skies across swaths of the planet for the second night in a row on Saturday, after already dazzling Earthlings from the United States to Tasmania to the Bahamas the day before. A powerful solar storm — which could continue into Sunday — has triggered spectacular celestial shows usually confined to the far northern reaches of the […]

Investigators say bodies in Mexico likely those of missing surfers

TIJUANA, Mexico, May 5, 2024 (AFP) – Three bodies recovered from a cliff-top shaft in Mexico’s crime-hit Baja California state are very likely those of two Australian brothers and an American who disappeared on a surfing trip, local investigators said Saturday. The bodies were in an “advanced state of decomposition” when they were hoisted out of a shaft a few steps from the edge of the Pacific Ocean cliff, said state prosecutor Maria Elena Andrade. […]

‘Radicalized’ 16-year-old shot dead by police in Australia

SYDNEY, May 5, 2024 (AFP) – Western Australian police shot and killed a “radicalised” 16-year-old boy with a knife who had stabbed a man in a Perth car park, police and the state premier said Sunday. The teenager “rushed” at police who responded by shooting him twice with Tasers before firing a single fatal shot, they said. “There are indications he had been radicalised online. But I want to reassure the community at this stage […]