Australia and Oceania

Australia to give fourth Covid-19 jab to over 65s

  SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australia is offering a fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccines to over 65s from next month, federal health authorities announced Friday, as a new Omicron strain races through the population. The top advisory group on vaccines approved the fourth shot for vulnerable groups: those aged over 65, indigenous people over 50, people who are immunocompromised and care home residents. In the past six weeks, other countries, including France, Germany and Sweden […]

Australia accepts N.Zealand offer to take 450 refugees after long delay

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) – Australia accepted on Thursday a long-standing New Zealand offer to take hundreds of refugees detained for years in remote camps under Canberra’s “Pacific solution” immigration policy. The deal, which was originally tabled in 2013, will involve New Zealand welcoming 150 refugees annually for three years after they have been screened by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR). “We are pleased to be able to provide resettlement outcomes for refugees who would otherwise […]

Putin going to G20 ‘a step too far’: Australia PM

MELBOURNE, Australia (AFP) – Allowing Russian President Vladimir Putin to sit with other world leaders at this year’s G20 summit would be “a step too far”, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Thursday. Putin has already been invited to the G20 heads of state summit in November by this year’s host Jakarta, and he intends to be there, Russia’s ambassador to Indonesia said this week. But Morrison objected, citing Russia’s war in neighbouring Ukraine. “I […]

Four dead, one missing, as storms batter New Zealand

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — Wild storms lashed New Zealand’s North Island Monday, claiming at least four lives when a fishing vessel sank and causing chaos in the country’s biggest city Auckland, officials said. Four bodies were recovered and another person was missing after a chartered fishing boat went down off the remote Northland coast late Sunday, police said, with five survivors stable after being plucked from the raging seas. The military sent two air […]

Samoa locks down after first community Covid-19 case

APIA, Samoa (AFP) — The Pacific island nation of Samoa sealed its borders Friday as it prepares to enter a nationwide lockdown after recording its first case of Covid-19 in the community. The government issued an emergency order suspending all international travel by air and sea in the wake of the positive case, which was detected Thursday on the main island of Upolu. The nation of about 200,000 has been one of the few places […]

Rio Tinto vows to sever all business ties with Russia

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) – Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto announced Thursday it would sever all business ties with Russia following the invasion of Ukraine. The company said in a statement that it “is in the process of terminating all commercial relationships it has with any Russian business”. No timeline has been announced for the severance, which may be a complex disentanglement given the miner’s ties with Russia. In Australia, Rio Tinto co-owns one of the world’s […]

Flood-ravaged eastern Australia braces for more wild weather

Australian towns devastated by deadly flooding over the past week prepared for further intense weather Sunday, with expected downpours halting volunteer recovery and clean-up efforts. The national weather bureau warned of severe thunderstorms and major flooding in the state of Queensland, where 11 people died in the past week’s floods. Flash flooding is forecast for the major city of Brisbane, home to 2.6 million people. Heavy rains, large hailstones and damaging winds were also expected to hit further south […]

Hundreds of thousands at risk as Australian floods spread to Sydney

by Maddison Connaughton SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Emergency services ordered some Sydney residents to prepare to flee Wednesday as heavy rainfall barrelled down Australia’s east coast, burying towns in floodwater, killing 13 and putting hundreds of thousands at risk. A week-long torrential downpour has swollen rivers and reservoirs past bursting point, causing chaos in an area 800 kilometres (500 miles) long. From Brisbane to Sydney, more than 30 evacuation warnings are in place and several […]

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 […]