Australia and Oceania

Vegas shooter’s ‘companion an Australian granny’

  SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock’s “regular companion” was an Australian woman who moved to the United States 20 years ago to work on the casino strip, the government confirmed Tuesday. Marilou Danley, 62, was initially said to be a “person of interest” but has since been cleared of any involvement in the shocking shooting that left 59 dead and more than 500 injured. American authorities said she was out of […]

Vanuatu’s volcano evacuation gathers pace

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) – The mass evacuation of a volcano-threatened Vanuatu island is running ahead of schedule as a ramshackle armada of civilian boat ferries people to safety, officials said Monday. The entire 11,000 population of Ambae, in the north of the Pacific archipelago, has been ordered to leave after the Manaro Voui volcano rumbled to life and rained rock and ash on villages last week. The evacuation to nearby islands was scheduled for completion […]

Ambae residents evacuate as Vanuatu volcano spews smoke

AMBAE, Vanuatu (Reuters) — Residents evacuated Vanuatu’s island of Ambae on Sunday (October 1) as volcano Manaro Voui spewed smoke, triggering concerns of an eruption. People were taken from the island to nearby Espiritu Santo island on an Air Vanuatu flight. More than 6000 people have already been moved to emergency shelters on the South Pacific island. Vanuatu, a sprawling cluster of more than 80 islands and 260,000 people, is on the geologically active Pacific […]

Hanging cow at Australia restaurant sparks controversy

ADELAIDE, Australia (AFP) – An Australian pizzeria that hung a taxidermied dairy cow from its ceiling to call attention to the industrialization of the farming industry has been criticized on social media for cruelty. Owners Federico and Melissa Pisanelli, who are passionate about animal welfare, defended their decision to hang the large Friesian-Hereford cow from its hind legs, saying they wanted to remind patrons of how meat was sourced. “We have worked hard to educate […]

Thousands evacuated from Vanuatu island as volcano erupts

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Vanuatu has declared a state of emergency and evacuated thousands of residents from an island in the Pacific archipelago after a volcanic eruption rained rocks and ash on nearby homes, reports and officials said Tuesday. After weeks of rumbling, activity from the Manaro Voui volcano — at the center of the northern island of Ambae — increased in recent days, the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department said. The department on Saturday […]

6.0-magnitude quake hits off Papua New Guinea

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — A 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck off Papua New Guinea on Tuesday, according to the United States Geological Survey, but no Pacific-wide tsunami warning was issued. The tremor hit at a depth of five kilometers (three miles) near the sparsely-populated East New Britain region, some 210 kilometers southeast of the town of Kokopo, the USGS said. The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue a tsunami warning. Earthquakes are common near Papua […]

New Zealand PM says poll deadlock may last three weeks

by Neil Sands Agence France-Presse WELLINGTON, New Zealand | (AFP) – New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English said Monday he expects two or three weeks of “tense” negotiations with maverick MP Winston Peters to break the country’s general election deadlock. Peters emerged as kingmaker in Saturday’s election after English’s conservative National Party and the Labour opposition led by Jacinda Ardern both failed to win an outright majority. English was expected to struggle amid the “Jacinda-mania” hype surrounding the charismatic […]

Powerful 6.4 quake off Vanuatu, no damage reported

  WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — A strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck near the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu Thursday but there was no tsunami warning or any immediate reports of damage, officials said. The US Geological Survey said the quake hit about 143 kilometers (88 miles) southeast of the capital Port Vila at 7:09am local time (2009 GMT Wednesday) at a depth of 200 kilometres. The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no […]

Strong quakes rattle New Zealand

  (Eagle News) – A magnitude 6.1 earthquake shook Auckland Island in southern New Zealand on Wednesday, September 20, with a depth of 10 kilometers, according to the United States Geological Survey. USGS recorded the quake 256 kilometers west of Auckland Island in New Zealand. Before this, USGS recorded another strong quake with a magnitude of 4.7.  This was 273 kilometers northeast of Opotiki, New Zealand. After the 6.1 magnitude quake, another quake with a […]

New Zealand’s fuel shortage hits more flights and petrol stations

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND (Reuters) — New Zealand’s jet fuel shortage on Tuesday (September 19) forced 39 flights to be cancelled, 13 of them international, with concerns the fuel crisis may spread after fuel stations in the country’s largest city Auckland halted high-octane gasoline sales. The fuel shortage, caused by a damaged pipeline to Auckland Airport, has caused widespread disruption to air travel since the weekend and comes only days before Saturday’s (September 23) national election […]

Foiled Australia plane plot directed by Islamic State: police

by Martin Parry Agence France Presse SYDNEY, Australia — A man instructed by Islamic State to bring down an Etihad Airways flight tried to use an unsuspecting passenger to carry a bomb on board, with a second poisonous gas plot also in the works, Australian police alleged Friday. The improvised device, using “high military-grade explosive,” was due to be smuggled onto a July 15 service from Sydney, but the attempt was aborted before they reached […]

Australia foils ‘terror plot’ to bring down airplane

  by Glenda Kwek Agence France Presse SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australia has foiled an Islamist-inspired “terrorist plot” to bring down an airplane with an improvised explosive, authorities said Sunday, after four people were arrested in raids across Sydney. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the plot appeared to be “elaborate” rather than planned by a lone wolf, as security was beefed up at major domestic and international airports across the nation. “I can report last […]