Australia and Oceania

6.0-magnitude quake hits off Solomon Islands

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — A 6.0-magnitude quake hit off the Solomon Islands on Wednesday, officials said, but Australian seismologists said it was unlikely to generate a tsunami. The quake hit some 88 kilometers (54 miles) west of the capital Honiara at a depth of about 10 kilometers, the United States Geological Survey said. Geoscience Australia estimated the quake at a much deeper 30 kilometers, but said it was of a 6.2 magnitude. “It’s too small […]

MH370 ‘debris’ handed to Australian agency

CANBERRA, Australia (AFP) – An American amateur investigator handed possible debris from missing flight MH370 to Australian officials Monday and said several pieces were blackened by flames, raising the prospect of a flash fire onboard. Mystery has surrounded the fate of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 since it disappeared on March 8, 2014, carrying 239 passengers and crew on a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The Boeing 777 is believed to have crashed in […]

Chinese boats face huge fines for illegal fishing off Guinea

CONAKRY, Guinea (AFP) — Two Chinese vessels face huge fines after being caught fishing illegally in Guinea’s waters, including one fine of up to $3.4 million, the country’s fishing minister said Thursday, as west Africa attempts to crack down on millions lost to foreign trawlers. The Chang Yuan Yu 6 and Lu Jiao Nan Yuan Yu 102 were among 14 vessels identified as operating illegally in a joint operation mounted by Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and […]

Tsunami but no damage after powerful 7.1 quake jolts New Zealand

  WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — The east coast of New Zealand was hit by a powerful 7.1 magnitude earthquake before dawn Friday, generating a small tsunami, but officials said there was no significant damage or injuries. A swarm of aftershocks, several of nearly 6.0 magnitude, rocked the region for many hours after the initial jolt as coastal residents made their way to high ground by torchlight. But less than three hours later they were advised […]

Deep 6.7 quake off Papua New Guinea

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) –A 6.7-magnitude earthquake struck off Papua New Guinea on Wednesday, officials said, but no Pacific-wide tsunami warning was issued. The tremor was estimated at a depth of close to 500 kilometers (around 300 miles) some 900 kilometres northeast of the capital Port Moresby, the United States Geological Survey said. “Based on all available data a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami is not expected,” the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said. Australian seismologists estimated the […]

Kidnapped Australian woman set free in Afghanistan: Canberra

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — An Australian woman kidnapped in Afghanistan has been freed and is “safe and well”, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Monday. “I confirm that Kerry Jane Wilson, who was abducted in Afghanistan in April this year, has been released, and she is now safe and well,” Bishop said in a statement. © 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

Czech woman rescued one month after partner dies during a hike talks of “harrowing” ordeal

QUEENSTOWN, New Zealand (Reuters) — Pavlina Pizova, a Czech traveller who was rescued by New Zealand police on Thursday (August 25) after having spent close to a month alone in a warden’s hut in the mountains of the country’s South Island after her male partner Ondrej Petr died from a fall, spoke to media on Friday (August 26) of her ordeal. “As you can imagine, the last month was very harrowing for me and my […]

Australian unearths ‘beast’ of a truffle

  SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — An Australian has uncovered what is thought to be the largest black truffle ever discovered in the country, a 1,511-gram (53.3-ounce) monster that could also be a world-beater.  Stuart Dunbar said he had known since February that a truffle had been growing in the spot where it was found, but its ripening aroma in warmer weather meant he started digging last Thursday. He said he had no idea of the size of […]

7.2-magnitude quake hits off New Caledonia, no tsunami threat

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — A 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of New Caledonia Friday in the tectonically active Pacific region, but there was no tsunami threat, seismologists said. The quake struck at a depth of about nine kilometres (5.5 miles) some 109 kilometres east of Ile Hunter in New Caledonia at 0126 GMT, the United States Geological Survey said. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no current warning or advisory in the […]

Abuse rife in Australian immigration centre: leaked reports

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) – More than 2,000 leaked reports detailing allegations of sexual assault, child abuse and self-harm in Australian immigration centres on Nauru were published Wednesday, prompting rights groups to renew calls for refugees to be resettled elsewhere. Under Canberra’s current policy, asylum-seekers arriving by boat are sent to the remote Pacific island nation of Nauru or to Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island. They will not be allowed to resettle in Australia even if […]

Australia probes youth detention abuse likened to Guantanamo

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) by Martin PARRY The Australian government ordered an inquiry Tuesday after graphic evidence emerged of prison guards assaulting teenage boys, with one shown hooded and shackled in scenes likened to Guantanamo Bay. National broadcaster ABC on Monday night showed footage of offenders, many indigenous, being stripped naked, tear-gassed and held in solitary confinement for weeks at a youth detention centre in the Northern Territory in 2014 and 2015. In one video from last […]

Pokemon Go players held at gunpoint in Australia park

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — A couple playing Pokemon Go were threatened at gunpoint in a town park south of Sydney, Australian police said Friday, as they blamed the game for a wave of crimes, traffic violations and complaints. Two masked men carrying a rifle held up the couple who had gone to the park in the small town Wednesday night to search for virtual “pocket monsters”. The would-be robbers fled empty handed and New South […]