Australia and Oceania

Australia on the defensive offers hope of new MH370 hunt

MELBOURNE, Australia (AFP) — Australia’s transport minister Wednesday defended the suspension of the undersea search for MH370, after relatives of passengers slammed the decision, and added that it could resume if “credible new evidence” emerges. Australia, Malaysia and China — where most of the 239 on board the missing Malaysia Airlines jet lived — on Tuesday pulled the plug on the massive operation in the southern Indian Ocean almost three years since the plane vanished on March […]

Japan’s Abe pushes Pacific trade deal in Australia

Sydney, Australia (AFP)  — Japan and Australia will work together to ensure the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal comes into force, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Saturday, making no mention of strong US opposition. After talks with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Abe took the lead on the trade pact covering 12 Pacific Rim nations that was ratified by Japan’s parliament last month. “We agreed that we should demonstrate anew to the world the importance of free […]

Tsunami warning after 7.2-magnitude quake off Fiji

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — A shallow 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Fiji on Wednesday, the US Geological Survey said, triggering a local tsunami warning. The quake hit at a depth of 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) some 221 kilometers from Nadi and 283 kilometers from the Fijian capital Suva. “Hazardous tsunami waves from this earthquake are possible within 300 kilometers of the epicenter along the coasts of Fiji,” the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said, […]

Major security operation underway in Sydney as police heighten New Year’s Eve security

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA (Reuters) — A major security operation was underway in Sydney on Saturday (December 31) with more than 2000 police patrolling harbor side locations following recent counter-terrorism raids. Australian counter-terror officers arrested a 40-year-old man at Sydney Airport on Thursday (29 December) and charged him with making online threats “relating to New Year’s Eve” festivities in Sydney The arrest follows police raids across the southern city of Melbourne a week ago, which authorities said foiled […]

Australia kicks off global New Year party defying terror threat

by Barry PARKER SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Global terror attacks have cast a pall over 2016 but Australia was Saturday set to defy the threats and ring in the New Year with bumper crowds gathering to watch a firework extravaganza on Sydney’s glittering harbor. 2016 has seen repeated bloodshed, most recently a deadly truck attack at a Berlin Christmas market, a similar incident on Bastille Day in France that killed 86, and atrocities in Turkey […]

Australian police charge man over New Year threats

SYDNEY, Australia (Reuters) –Australian counter-terror officers arrested a 40-year-old man at Sydney Airport, after he disembarked from a flight from London on Thursday (29 December), and charged him with making online threats “relating to New Year’s Eve” festivities in Sydney, police said on Friday (30 December). The arrest follows police raids across the southern city of Melbourne a week ago, which authorities said foiled an Islamic State-inspired plot to attack prominent sites in the city […]

Rare death from snake bite in Australian home

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — A man has died a week after being bitten by one of the world’s deadliest snakes in his living room in Australia’s tropical northeast, officials said Tuesday. The 77-year-old, named in local media as David Pitt, was at his home in Cairns when he was bitten between his toes as he tried to kill the snake with a spade last Tuesday, Queensland Ambulance said. Paramedics performed CPR and gave Pitt anti-venom […]

Robot gives rare glimpse under Antarctic sea ice

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — An underwater robot has captured a rare glimpse beneath the Antarctic sea ice, revealing a colourful world filled with coconut-shaped sponges, dandelion-like worms, pink algae and spidery starfish. The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) took footage on a camera attached to a Remotely Operated Vehicle sent down by scientists through a small hole drilled in the ice as they recorded the acidity, oxygen, salinity and temperature of the seawater. “When you think […]

6.5-magnitude earthquake rattles northern Australia

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — A strong 6.5-magnitude earthquake rattled northern Australia and parts of Indonesia Wednesday with residents in Darwin reporting widespread shaking, but there were no immediate reports of damage. The tremor struck off the coast of eastern Indonesia, US seismologists said, but no tsunami warning was issued. “TV nearly rattled off the cabinet, two storey house was swaying around,” said Rosie McCurrach on broadcaster ABC’s Darwin Facebook page. Another poster said: “Mitchell Center […]

Thousands of Fijians shelter in evacuation centres from floods, landslides

NAVUA DISTRICT, Fiji (Reuters) — Thousands of Fijians sheltered in evacuation centers and tents on Tuesday (December 20) as heavy rain and floods cut roads, covered sugarcane fields and caused landslides, said the South Pacific nation’s disaster office. Across the archipelago nation 1,716 people sought refuge in 46 evacuation centres and another 1,817 were living in tents, said the national disaster management office director, Akapusi Tuifagalele, in a video statement posted on the Fijian government’s […]

Solomons escape serious damage after powerful 7.7 quake

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — A major 7.7-magnitude quake struck Friday off the Solomon Islands triggering severe shaking and a tsunami warning, but there were no reports of any serious damage, officials said. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center initially said there could be possible “widespread, hazardous” tsunami waves, forcing villagers to flee to higher ground. But within three hours the warning was downgraded after the threat passed without major incident. The epicenter of the quake, which […]

Magnitude 6 quake hits Castlepoint, New Zealand

  (Eagle News) — A magnitude 6 quake hit New Zealand, with its epicenter located east northeast of Castlepoint, a small beachside town on the Wairarapa coast of the Wellington Region, according to the US Geological Survey.  (USGS) The quake was measured with a depth of 10 kilometers. It occurred at 12:19 p.m. New Zealand time, or 7:19 a.m. Philippine time.