Australia and Oceania

Traffic chaos, schools shut as Riyadh hit by rare flooding

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AFP) — Traffic backed up and schools were shut in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Wednesday after the desert city was struck by a rare severe storm that sparked flooding. The storm, which struck during Tuesday evening’s rush hour, had subsided by daybreak Wednesday but some roads were still inundated. Riyadh implemented its emergency plan to deal with the flooding, the spokesman for the municipal council, Mohammed al-Shwayman, was quoted by the official Saudi […]

Battered Fiji braces for cyclone

SUVA, Fiji (AFP) — Fiji was battening down for another tropical cyclone Wednesday, just weeks after the most powerful storm in the Pacific nation’s history left 44 people dead and crippled infrastructure. The Fiji Meteorological Service said Tropical Cyclone Zena formed overnight Tuesday when a depression west of the main island Vita Levu intensified. It said the category two cyclone, with wind gusts of up to 130 kilometres (80 miles) an hour, was gathering strength, […]

Mozambique debris ‘almost certainly’ from Malaysia plane, Australia says

Sydney, Australia (AFP)—Two pieces of debris found in Mozambique are “almost certainly from MH370,” Australia and Malaysia said Thursday, after technical analysis provided fresh clues to the fate of the missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) aircraft. Until the latest discoveries, only a wing part recovered from a beach on the Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, which lies east of Mozambique, had been confirmed as coming from the plane that disappeared two years ago. “The analysis […]

Australian Navy says seizes huge weapons cache headed for Somalia

REUTERS — An Australian Navy ship seized a huge cache of weapons near Oman’s coast from a fishing vessel bound for Somalia, the navy said on Monday (March 7), exposing a possible violation of a U.N. Security Council arms embargo. The United Nations has a decades-long arms embargo in place against Somalia, which has been mired in conflict since civil war broke out in 1991. The Australian navy, which patrols waters around the Indian Ocean […]

Church ‘mucked up’ with pedophile priests: Vatican finance chief

by Martin Parry SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) —  Vatican finance chief Cardinal George Pell admitted Monday the Catholic Church “mucked up” in dealing with paedophile priests and vowed he would not “defend the indefensible” before an Australian inquiry. Pell gave evidence from a hotel in Rome via video-link to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Sydney rather than appear in person as he has a heart condition. The inquiry is currently […]

Aid finally getting to Fiji cyclone victims

SUVA, Fiji (AFP) — Humanitarian aid was finally reaching isolated communities in Fiji devastated by super-cyclone Winston, officials said Friday, with the government estimating the damage bill will top hundreds of millions of dollars. At least 44 people died when the most powerful storm in Fiji’s history hit on Saturday and the UN says about 50,000 — more than five percent of the entire population — have been left homeless. Some of the worst-affected villages were on […]

Death toll rises as Fiji cleans up after ‘strongest ever’ cyclone

Suva, Fiji (AFP) — Fiji began a massive clean-up on Sunday after the most powerful cyclone in the Pacific nation’s history left a trail of destruction, killing six people, flattening scores of homes and crippling infrastructure. The super-storm lashed the popular tourist destination overnight Saturday, packing wind gusts of 325 kilometres (202 miles) per hour, according to the UN humanitarian agency OCHA. OCHA said six people were killed during severe tropical cyclone Winston, the first-ever storm […]

Fiji cyclone death toll rises to 42: official

SUVA, Fiji (AFP) — The death toll from the Fiji super-cyclone hit 42 on Wednesday, officials said, with fears it will rise further as relief teams reach isolated communities. “42 Fijians now confirmed dead — disaster officials continue to deploy team to help those affected across Fiji,” government spokesman Dan Gavidi tweeted. The acting head of the Red Cross’s Pacific office Ahmad Sami said more fatalities were coming to light as data came in from remote communities. […]

Remote Fijian areas still cut off days after super cyclone

  RAKIRAKI and SUVA, Fiji (Reuters) — Fijian authorities were still trying to reach remote areas of the archipelago on Tuesday (February 23) to assess the scale of damage after a powerful cyclone tore through the Pacific island nation, killing at least 29 people. There are fears the death toll could rise in the nation of 900,000 people when communication resumes with the smaller islands where thousands of people live in tin or wooden shacks […]

Cyclone death toll hits 29 as Fiji eyes long clean-up

SUVA, Fiji (AFP) — Humanitarian aid began pouring into Fiji Tuesday, as the death toll from super-cyclone Winston rose to 29 and officials warned the devastated Pacific nation’s recovery could take months. With authorities still struggling to grasp the scale of the disaster on remote island communities, Australian and New Zealand planes arrived laden with desperately needed supplies of food, water and medicine. Government spokesman Ewan Perrin said the news was grim from villages which […]

URGENT: Fiji cyclone death toll climbs to 17: Care Australia

SUVa, Fiji (AFP) — The death toll from the super-cyclone that hit Fiji over the weekend has risen from six to 17, Care Australia said Monday, citing Fijian government officials. “Care Australia can confirm that figure of 17 dead,” a Care spokesman told AFP after a briefing with disaster management officials in Suva. Severe tropical cyclone Winston, the first category five storm in Fiji, hit the Pacific nation overnight Saturday, packing wind gusts of 325 […]

Australia warns of terror threat to Malaysia

  SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australia has warned of a possible terror attack in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, urging travelers to be vigilant after a number of arrests. “Terrorists may be planning attacks in and around Kuala Lumpur,” Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in its latest advice issued late Sunday. “Attacks could be indiscriminate and may target Western interests or locations frequented by Westerners. You should be particularly vigilant at this […]