Australia and Oceania

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 […]

Fiji hit by ‘strongest ever’ cyclone

Photo grabbed from AFP/ Joshua Kuku Reports of power failure, state of natural disaster SUVA, FIJI (AFP)—Fiji was struck by its most powerful ever cyclone on Saturday, according to reports, as the island nation battened down the hatches with a curfew and evacuations. The category five super-storm hit the main island of Viti Levu overnight, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, with flights cancelled and evacuation centres activated earlier in the day. “As a nation, we […]

Australia and New Zealand urge China to refrain from stoking tensions in the South China Sea

SYDNEY, Australia (Reuters) — Australia and New Zealand on Friday (February 19) urged China to refrain from further stoking tensions in the South China Sea after its apparent deployment of surface-to-air missiles on a disputed island. Tensions were escalated after China deployed an advanced surface-to-air missile system to one of the disputed islands it controls in the South China Sea, Taiwan and U.S. officials said. “We know that the prosperity of an Australia and New […]

Australia warns Beijing over threat of conflict in South China Sea

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australia urged China on Friday to refrain from the “militarization of islands” to avoid walking into a conflict, a day after the United States slammed Beijing for deploying missiles in the disputed South China Sea. China said Thursday it had weapons on one of the islands in the strategically important region, which US Secretary of State John Kerry said was evidence of an “increase of militarisation” and a “serious concern”. Prime Minister […]

5.8 magnitude quake shakes New Zealand’s Christchurch

  A  5.8 magnitude quake shook near New Zealand’s city of Christchurch on Sunday (February 14), according to the US Geological Survey. The USGS website said the quake was located 17 kilometers east northeast of Christchurch. New Zealand’s earthquake monitoring service, however, put the quake’s magnitude at 5.7 It hit just eight days short of the anniversary of the February 22, 2011 earthquake in the same region, which resulted in nearly 200 deaths and caused […]