Australia and Oceania

Australians flee floods as toll rises to 12, Sydney on alert

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Floodwaters crashed into more towns on Australia’s east coast as a deadly storm front barrelled south on Wednesday towards Sydney, where the main dam began to spill water. The death toll rose to 12 in a week-long disaster that has washed cars from roads and forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes as waters lapped at balconies and roofs. “This is terrible. This is terrible. One life lost […]

Australia tells tens of thousands to flee floods

GAFTON, Australia (AFP) – Deadly floods spread down Australia’s east coast Tuesday, stranding residents on rooftops and bridges and prompting authorities to order tens of thousands of people to flee their homes. Flood warnings were in effect for dozens of rivers across the states of Queensland of New South Wales, where a days-long “rain bomb” has dumped a metre (3.2 feet) of rain on some areas in a week. Several waterways have already burst their […]

Rooftop rescues in Australia as tens of thousands evacuated from floods

  BRISBANE, Australia (AFP) — Tens of thousands of Australians were ordered to flee their homes Monday, as torrential rain sent floodwaters to record levels, leaving residents stranded on the rooftops of their homes. Eight people have died, and the country’s weather bureau has warned further severe thunderstorms and intense rainfall will cause “life-threatening flash flooding” across a swathe of the central Pacific coastal region. In the country town of Lismore, resident Danika Hardiman woke […]

Biden says G7 will impose ‘devastating’ sanctions on Russia

US President Joe Biden announced “devastating” Western sanctions against Russia on Thursday and was shortly to address the American people on the unfolding invasion of Ukraine. After a virtual, closed-door meeting which lasted an hour and 10 minutes, the group of rich Western democracies — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States — said it was standing firm against Russia’s “threat to the rules-based international order.” Biden tweeted that the G7 leaders […]

Australia sanctions top Russian officials for ‘unprovoked’ Ukraine invasion

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) – Australia announced sanctions on eight of President Vladimir Putin’s top security advisors on Wednesday following Russia’s “unwarranted, unprovoked, unacceptable” invasion of Ukraine. Pillorying Putin’s decision to order troops into breakaway Kremlin-backed statelets in Ukraine’s east, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a suite of sanctions that closely echoed moves from other US allies. Eight members of Russia’s security council will face sanctions, including travel bans, and Australia will move to target military-linked […]

Riot police clash with New Zealand anti-vax protesters

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) – New Zealand anti-vaccine protesters pelted police with a “stinging substance” sending three to hospital with injuries Tuesday, as tensions spilled over in an angry weeks-long protest. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern decried “absolutely disgraceful” scenes after the suspected acid attack, and a startling incident that saw one protester speed a car toward police lines before coming to a quick halt just centimetres away. The brief but intense confrontations erupted near New […]

‘Fortress Australia’ re-opens after two-year Covid closure

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) – Australia opened its international borders to all vaccinated tourists Monday, nearly two years after the island nation first imposed some of the world’s strictest Covid-19 travel restrictions. A Qantas flight from Los Angeles was the first to touch down in Sydney at 6:20 am (1720 GMT) followed by arrivals from Tokyo, Vancouver and Singapore. “It’s fair to say we’ve all been waiting a long time to welcome visitors back to Australia,” […]

New Zealand police reject calls to clear anti-vax camp

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) – New Zealand police ruled out forcibly clearing anti-vaccination protesters camped around parliament in Wellington on Friday, saying they did not want to provoke violence on the streets of the capital. Police have taken a hands-off approach after an attempt to take control of the lawns late last week resulted in violent clashes and 120 arrests. Commissioner Andrew Coster acknowledged growing frustration among Wellington residents and business owners as protest vehicles […]

New Zealand Covid protest grows after police draw back

WELLINGTON, United States (AFP) — Protester numbers outside New Zealand’s parliament swelled Friday as police scaled back efforts to clear anti-vaccine demonstrators involved in violent clashes a day earlier. A festive mood prevailed at a makeshift tent settlement inhabitants have dubbed “Camp Freedom”, with music and dancing as police looked on from behind barricades. It was a stark contrast to the fiery scenes Thursday, when a phalanx of officers attempted to evict the protesters, arresting […]

US, Asia allies meet to deepen bulwark against China

by Paul HANDLEY Agence France-Presse MELBOURNE, Australia (AFP) – The top diplomats of the United States, Australia, Japan and India opened talks in Melbourne Friday on deepening their Quad alliance, hoping to blunt China’s expanding power across the Asia-Pacific region. “Together we are a vital network of liberal democracies committed to practical cooperation and to ensuring all Indo-Pacific nations, large and small, are able to make their own strategic decisions, free from coercion,” Australia’s Foreign […]

Perth suburbs threatened as Australia bushfires rage

PERTH, Australia (AFP) — Two out-of-control bushfires threatened lives and homes in Western Australia on Wednesday, with blistering temperatures set to intensify in the coming days. An emergency warning for the outskirts of Perth, the country’s fourth-largest city, was issued after a blaze that has now burned through about 100 hectares began Tuesday. Authorities are concerned about the fire reaching residential areas, as fierce winds strain containment lines. Emergency services have told residents they are […]