Australia and Oceania

Rare Australia earthquake triggers panic in Melbourne

by William WEST MELBOURNE, Australia (AFP) — A rare quake rattled southeastern Australia early Wednesday, shaking buildings, knocking down walls and sending panicked Melbourne residents running into the streets. The shallow tremor hit east of the country’s second-largest city just after 9:00am local time (2300 GMT) and was felt hundreds of kilometres (miles) away. The US Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake at 5.8, later revised up to 5.9, and said it struck […]

JUST IN: Shallow 5.8-magnitude quake rattles southern Australia

MELBOURNE, Australia (AFP) — A shallow quake rattled southeastern Australia early Wednesday, with reports saying people ran into the streets of the second-largest city of Melbourne after the tremor shook buildings there. The rare quake hit east of the city just after 9:00am local time (2300 GMT) and was felt hundreds of kilometres (miles) away. The US Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake at 5.8 and said it struck at a depth of […]

Melbourne police fire to disperse violent anti-vaccine protest

MELBOURNE, Australia (AFP) — Melbourne riot police used pepper spray, foam baton rounds and rubber ball grenades to disperse a violent protest against mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for construction workers Tuesday. More than 1,000 demonstrators wearing work boots and hi-vis jackets rampaged through the centre of Australia’s second-largest city, lighting flares, throwing bottles, attacking police cars and chanting their opposition to vaccines and lockdown restrictions. Melbourne has been in strict lockdown for seven weeks, as the […]

Auckland extends Covid-19 lockdown

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — New Zealand’s largest city Auckland will remain in a Covid-19 lockdown for at least another two weeks, although some restrictions will be eased, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday. Ardern said the city of two million would move down to level three on New Zealand’s four-tier coronavirus response system by late Tuesday, even as authorities remain committed to eliminating a Delta-variant outbreak. “We’re moving now because the advice we have […]

Virus lockdown end in sight for Australia’s second-largest city

Australia’s second-largest city will exit its coronavirus lockdown in late October if vaccine targets are met under an official roadmap released Sunday. About five million people in Melbourne have been under stay-at-home orders since August 5, the sixth lockdown they have endured so far during the Covid-19 pandemic. Officials in Victoria state, which includes Melbourne, announced those orders would be lifted when 70 percent of over-16s are fully vaccinated. They projected that target would be […]

Police wounded, hundreds arrested in Melbourne anti-lockdown protest

  MELBOURNE, Australia (AFP) — Several police officers were wounded and hundreds of protesters were arrested in Australia’s second-most-populous city Saturday in violent clashes at an anti-lockdown march. Officers used pepper spray and made over 200 arrests in Melbourne as several hundred attendees flouted stay-at-home orders and marched through an inner-city suburb. The illegal gathering comes as the city goes through its sixth lockdown since the pandemic started, with the wider state of Victoria reporting […]

Australian nuclear subs will be banned from New Zealand waters: Ardern

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — New Zealand will not lift a decades-long ban on nuclear-powered vessels entering its waters in the wake of key ally Australia’s decision to develop a nuclear submarine fleet, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Thursday. Ardern said her Australian counterpart Scott Morrison had briefed her on Canberra’s plan to develop nuclear-powered submarines with the help of the United States and Britain. She described the deal as “primarily around technology and defence […]

Australia to acquire US Tomahawk cruise missiles: PM

  SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Thursday the country would acquire long-range US Tomahawk cruise missiles, as it strengthens military defenses in the face of a rising China. “We will be enhancing our long-range strike capability including Tomahawk cruise missiles to be fielded on the Royal Australian Navy Hobart class destroyers and joint air-to-surface standoff missiles extended range for our Royal Australian Air Force capabilities,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra. […]

Sydney lifts Covid curfews as case numbers stabilize

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Sydney authorities moved to lift curfews for coronavirus hotpots Wednesday, as infection numbers stabilised and vaccination rates surged. Almost three months after activity in Australia’s largest city was frozen by lockdown orders, state authorities announced easing restrictions for the worst-hit areas. New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the 9 pm to 5 am curfew for virus hotspots would be lifted from Wednesday, in what Sydneysiders hope signals the beginning of […]

Vaccinated Sydney residents picnic as lockdown rules relaxed

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Virus lockdown rules were relaxed for fully vaccinated people in Sydney on Monday, with small groups allowed to meet for picnics for the first time in months. Families and friends gathered in parks and at beaches, reuniting 11 weeks after an outbreak of the Delta variant brought Australia’s biggest city to a virtual standstill. The rules remain strict, with just five fully vaccinated people allowed to gather outdoors for up to […]

Sydney floats pub promise to boost jab rate

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Locked-down Sydney residents could enjoy a beer at the pub as soon as next month if the double-dose vaccination rate hits 70 percent, under an official “roadmap to freedom” released on Thursday. Officials in the eastern state of New South Wales, which includes Sydney, said stay-at-home orders would be lifted for fully vaccinated people once it hits the interim Covid-19 vaccine target for adults. The roadmap gave no date but current […]

Three-year-old survives three-day Australia outback ordeal

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — An Australian mother said Tuesday she felt “blessed” after her three-year-old son with autism was found alive, scooping muddy water from a creek in dense outback terrain after a three-day hunt that gripped the country. Police sent a helicopter with thermal imaging equipment but failed to spot the little boy in the hours after he was first reported missing on Friday morning at his family’s remote property in the eastern state […]