Australia and Oceania

UN General Assembly chief warns: ‘World’s breadbaskets’ are sinking

While small island states are the most vulnerable to rising sea levels, the impact is much wider, warned the President of the UN General Assembly on Thursday. Addressing a special summit meeting, Dennis Francis – a veteran diplomat from Trinidad and Tobago – said he was determined to make sure the issue gets the attention it deserves during his presidency. With the climate crisis unfolding rapidly, the need for more inclusive and innovative approaches to […]

Australia’s firefighters face worst season in years

SYDNEY, Sept 22, 2023 (AFP) – Volunteer firefighters are scorching Australia’s forest undergrowth, reducing fuel for what is expected to be the fiercest fire season since the monster “Black Summer” blazes. Deadly wildfires have devastated forests in Canada, Greece, Hawaii and elsewhere around the world this year but unlike many other countries, Australia heavily relies on a 190,000-strong volunteer cohort to battle the flames. Their courage was on display during the “Black Summer” fires of […]

Floods force evacuations on New Zealand’s South Island

WELLINGTON, Sept 22, 2023 (AFP) – New Zealand emergency officials have ordered about 100 people to evacuate in the tourist hub of Queenstown after heavy rain triggered floods across the South Island, officials said Friday. A cloudburst overnight dumped a month’s worth of rain on Queenstown in its wettest 24-period for more than two decades, meteorologists said. Flooding and debris washed through parts of central Queenstown as some residents had to flee their homes, officials […]

Rupert Murdoch hands leadership of media empire to son Lachlan

NEW YORK, Sept 21, 2023 (AFP) – Rupert Murdoch will step down as chairman of his media empire, a conservative behemoth that helped shape politics around the world, and hand control to his son Lachlan, Fox Corp. and News Corp. announced Thursday. The Australian-born 92-year-old, who built a global entertainment and news juggernaut that shaped events from Brexit to the rise of Donald Trump, will shift into an emeritus status at both companies in mid-November, […]

Strong earthquake rattles New Zealand’s South Island

WELLINGTON, Sept 20, 2023 (AFP) A strong earthquake shook New Zealand’s South Island on Wednesday, startling people but resulting in no reports of injury or damage. The shallow quake, which struck at 09:14 am (2114 GMT), was measured at 5.6 magnitude by the US Geological Survey and at a downwardly revised 6.0 by New Zealand’s GeoNet monitoring service. “Nothing broke, but the lights were shaking,” said Rebecca Chapman, who was working at Cafe Verde in […]

Hawaii revises down wildfire death toll

LOS ANGELES, Sept 16, 2023 (AFP) – The number of people thought to have died in the fast-moving wildfire that tore through part of Hawaii last month dropped Friday, as authorities revised their figures. The state’s governor, Josh Green, said scientists sorting through remains now believed that 97 people had perished in Lahaina, down from a previous official toll of 115. “That number dropped a little bit because the Department of Defense and all of […]

Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupts again

LOS ANGELES, Sept 11, 2023 (AFP) – Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, one of the world’s most active, erupted again on Sunday, spewing fountains of lava more than 80 feet (24 meters) high. Kilauea began erupting at around 3:15 pm local time (0115 GMT Monday), the US Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said. “The eruption was preceded by a period of strong seismicity and rapid uplift of the summit,” it said. It is the third time the […]

Australia sending delegation to China to ‘stabilise’ ties

SYDNEY, Sept 2, 2023 (AFP) – Australia will send a delegation of industry, government, academic, media and arts representatives to Beijing for a dialogue with their Chinese counterparts next week to stabilise its relationship with China, Canberra’s foreign ministry said Saturday. Trade, investment, people-to-people links as well as regional and international security are among the issues up for discussion in next Thursday’s talks, Foreign Minster Penny Wong’s office said. The high-level dialogue had been held […]

All 23 US marines accounted for after deadly Australia crash

DARWIN, Australia, Aug 28, 2023 (AFP) – All 23 US marines on board a military aircraft that crashed in northern Australia have been accounted for, police said Monday, as investigators worked to uncover the cause of an accident that left three dead and five seriously injured. The Boeing MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft crashed on Melville Island, north of Darwin, on Sunday morning during a routine military exercise for locally based troops. Authorities confirmed to AFP […]

Pres. Biden visits Hawaii to view fire damage, meet survivors

KAHULUI, United States, Aug 21, 2023 (AFP) – President Joe Biden arrived in Hawaii on Monday to view the widespread damage from recent Maui wildfires, meet with survivors and fend off criticism that his government was too slow to respond to the disaster. Biden and First Lady Jill Biden were greeted in Maui by Hawaii’s governor Josh Green, nearly two weeks after ferocious, wind-whipped blazes ripped through the historic town of Lahaina, claiming at least […]