Australia and Oceania

Two missing, 3,000 in shelters as Cyclone Tino hits Fiji

SUVA, Fiji (AFP) — Tropical Cyclone Tino strengthened to a Category Three storm Saturday as it closed in on Tonga after battering Fiji where two people were missing and more than 3,000 fled to emergency shelters. The Fiji Meteorological Service said the wind gusts from Tino had increased to 180 kilometers per hour (110 mph) and would likely have its biggest impact in the northern areas of Tonga when it hits overnight. The Pacific kingdom […]

Rain brings joy for Australian firefighters, farmers

    by Karl MALAKUNAS Agence France-Presse SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Drought-breaking storms dumped desperately needed rain on some bushfire-ravaged parts of eastern Australia on Friday, while giving joy to many farmers who have faced losing precious livestock and crops. The rains gave exhausted firefighters a boost in battling some of the blazes, with more relief expected over the weekend as the wet weather is forecast to hit other hotspots. The unprecedented fires, fueled by […]

Global decision-makers gather in Davos

PARIS, France (AFP) – Stuart WILLIAMS Global decision-makers gather in Davos starting Tuesday for their annual meeting, with challenges facing the planet — from climate change to conflict in the Middle East — as imposing as the Alps that surround the Swiss resort. Observers fear the annual World Economic Forum will serve only to again expose the differences between East and West, the US and the EU, and business and activists in combating the most […]

Rain hits Australian fires, but blazes still rage

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Heavy rain fell on bushfires in eastern Australia Friday for a second straight day, offering further relief from a months-long crisis, but dozens of blazes remained out of control. This week’s wet weather has given exhausted firefighters a major boost in battling unprecedented blazes that have been fuelled by climate change and drought. The fires have claimed 28 lives, scorched massive tracts of pristine forests and destroyed thousands of homes. Following […]

Fiji opens evacuation centres as Cyclone Tino hits

SUVA, Fiji (AFP) — Fiji opened evacuation centers and warned of “destructive force winds” as Tropical Cyclone Tino took aim at the Pacific island nation on Friday. The Fiji Meteorological Service said the cyclone was approaching from the north and strengthening as it headed for Fiji’s second-largest island, Vanua Levu. “We have told them to be prepared, the Ministry of Education has shut down all schools, the evacuation centers are open as well. So, everyone, […]

Relief as rain falls over Australian bushfires

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Rain fell across parts of bushfire-ravaged eastern Australia on Thursday and more wet weather was forecast, giving some relief following months of catastrophic blazes fuelled by climate change. The fires, unprecedented for Australia in terms of duration and intensity, have claimed 28 lives and killed an estimated billion animals. Sustained hot weather and only very rare periods of light rain in the affected areas have deepened the crisis. So authorities had […]

Makeshift koala hospital scrambles to save dozens injured in bushfires

KANGAROO ISLAND, Australia (AFP) – Dozens of injured koalas arrive at the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park’s makeshift animal hospital each day in cat carriers, washing baskets or clinging to wildlife carers. Injured in bushfires that have ravaged the wildlife haven off the coast of South Australia state, there are so many marsupials currently requiring urgent treatment that carers don’t have time to give them names — they are simply referred to by a number. Among […]

James Murdoch blasts dad Rupert’s firm over climate ‘denial’

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) – Rupert Murdoch’s younger son James has called out his father’s media empire for “denial” of climate change, calling it a disappointment in light of wildfires in Australia, a report said Tuesday. The Daily Beast reported that James Murdoch and his activist wife Kathryn had harsh words for his family’s company, which operates US-based Fox News as well as newspapers in the US, Britain and Rupert Murdoch’s native Australia through its […]

feral camel roaming the Australian wild

5,000 feral camels culled in drought-hit Australia

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) – Helicopter-borne marksmen killed more than 5,000 camels in a five-day cull of feral herds that were threatening indigenous communities in drought-stricken areas of southern Australia, officials said Tuesday. Aboriginal leaders in South Australia state said extremely large herds of the non-native camels had been driven towards rural communities by drought and extreme heat, threatening scarce food and drinking water, damaging infrastructure, and creating a dangerous hazard for drivers. The cull in […]

Australia’s bushfire crisis turns off tourists

  by Holly ROBERTSON Agence France-Presse MOGO, Australia¬† (AFP) — Families grieving for lost homes and loved ones, burned koalas rescued from charred forests: The devastation of Australia’s bushfire crisis has tainted the country’s reputation as a safe and alluring holiday destination. Images of the unprecedented scale of this summer’s blazes have evoked global shock and an outpouring of sympathy. Thousands of tourists have been evacuated from coastal towns, international visitors have cancelled flights, and […]

Australian ‘megablaze’ brought under control

by Andrew BEATTY Agence France-Presse SYDNEY, Australia¬† (AFP) — Exhausted firefighters said they had finally brought Australia’s largest “megablaze” under control Monday, as wet weather promised to deliver much-needed respite for countryside ravaged by bushfires. New South Wales firefighters said they finally had the upper hand in the fight against the vast Gospers Mountain fire on Sydney’s northwestern outskirts, which has been burning out of control for almost three months. Visiting the area on Monday, […]

New Zealand volcano death toll rises to 20

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — The death toll from the White Island volcano eruption in New Zealand has risen to 20, following another death more than a month after the tragedy, police said Monday. The toll includes two people whose bodies have not been recovered. “Police can confirm a further person died in an Australian hospital last night as a result of injuries suffered in the White Island eruption,” deputy commissioner John Tims said. The […]