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Bushfire season underway in Victoria

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January 15, 2019 by admin

The Victorian bushfire season officially begins this week, amid warnings the state faces worse conditions than earlier this year.


Premier John Brumby has urged Victorians in fire-prone areas to keep clearing debris from their properties to make their homes as fireproof as possible.

“The thing about fire preparation is it’s not just done in one day or one week, this is something that people have got to work on right up to Christmas and right through January,” he said.

Mr Brumby says Victorians face a hotter and more dangerous summer than they encountered last summer.

“The start of the fire season is a call to action for all Victorians to be prepared and to be on alert,” he said.

“Fire experts predict that this season could bring conditions every bit as bad, if not worse, than the season we’ve just experienced.”

Meanwhile the Royal Commission into the Black Saturday Bushfires has heard the state’s police have been re-trained in the fundamentals of emergency management.

SBS Reporter Rachel Baker reports the state’s top police officer says he’s discovered that there was confusion among members of his force.

“What is command, what is control and what is co-ordination? And as I said in my introduction, unless you have that straight, everything that flows from there very quickly becomes confused and confusing”, says Police Chief Simon Overland.

Officers have already received two-day refresher courses on the meaning of the terms.

This season about 30 commercial radio stations across Victoria have joined the ABC and Sky Television as official broadcasters of bushfire and other emergency warnings.

Mr Brumby said this means that warnings will not only go out across country Victoria but it will also reach a new and younger audience who are not necessarily tuned to the ABC.

“Everywhere in Victoria is a fire risk this season and I urge all Victorians, if you have not done so already, to identify your fire risk, prepare a Bushfire Survival Plan and get involved in community fire preparation activities,” he said.

A new “catastrophic” warning was added to a new national fire code to be used Australia-wide.

Under the new six-stage rating system, fire danger starts at low to moderate and runs through to severe and extreme with the highest code red warning being catastrophic.

Victorian government schools and children’s services in high-risk bushfire areas will close on days declared a catastrophic Code Red fire danger rating.

Of the 52 towns and communities designated as being most at risk, more than 30 are in the Otway, Dandenong and Macedon Ranges.

Concern is mounting over the townships on the fringes of the densely-forested Otways which include popular holiday resorts such as Torquay, Lorne and Apollo Bay along the Great Ocean Road.

On February 16, 1983, the day of the Ash Wednesday fires that tore through the Otways, 75 people died in that region and neighbouring South Australia.

The Royal Commission into the Black Saturday Bushfires has heard Victorian police have been re-trained in the fundamentals of emergency management.

The Police Chief Commissioner also says communication will always be a difficult area – and that he expects to receive wrong information in future disasters.

Dozens feared dead in quake, tsunami

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January 15, 2019 by admin

At least two dozen people are feared dead in Samoa and American Samoa and many more – including Australians – have been hurt, after a massive earthquake and tsunami hit the Pacific island nations.


More than a dozen people are feared dead in Samoa, including at least three children, while at least 14 people were reported killed in American Samoa.

The Red Cross and media reports put the death toll at at least 28, AFP reported, while the ABC said it could be as high as 40.

“We are on our way to the south coast where or people have told us of 11 deaths and we heard on the radio of another three,” said Talutala Mauala, the secretary general of the Red Cross in Samoa.

DFAT hotline for those concerned about relatives: 1300 555 135

“There have also been some injuries. We won’t know the full extent of the damage until we get there and see for ourselves.”

The federal government says a number of Australians have been injured in Samoa.

“The early reports don’t suggest that any of them are very serious, but they are in hospital,” parliamentary secretary for international development assistance Bob McMullan told Sky News.

The 8.3 magnitude quake struck at 6.48am Tuesday local time (0348 Wednesday AEST) midway between the two island nations.

It triggered a tsunami warning for the South Pacific region, from American Samoa to New Zealand, although Australia was excluded. The warning was later cancelled.

Dozens hurt, others missing

Police in Samoa report five people dead while Tupua Tamasese Hospital in the capital of Apia told local radio the tsunami had killed at least three people, two believed to be children – and more than 50 are injured.

Keni Lesa, editor of the Samoa Observer newspaper, says the toll has risen to more than a dozen, with many children among the dead.

“The numbers keep going up but from what I’ve heard there are 14, maybe up to 20 people dead and several children, three and probably more,” Mr Lesa said.

“There are dozens with injuries and even more missing.

“It’s a real mess and we’re very worried at this stage that the numbers are far higher.”

More people are believed to have died in nearby American Samoa, the US National Park Service reports.

“I can confirm there is damage, I can confirm there are deaths and I can confirm there are casualties,” a spokeswoman for the service said by phone.

Thousands left homeless

“I cannot say any more at the moment.”

Officials in American Samoa say at least 14 people were killed there when the tsunami swept ashore.

Mase Akapo, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, says the deaths occurred in four different villages on the main island of Tutuila, with six in the western area of Leone.

There were reports of thousands of people left homeless in American Samoa.

Officials on Samoa said an undetermined number of people had been killed or injured.

A member of the National Disaster Management committee said the casualties occurred in the village of Talamoa, AP reported.

Samoan police have confirmed that villages on the country’s southern coast had been hardest hit.

Entire villages levelled

Worst affected was the island of Upolu, where at least two villages were flattened.

Associated Press reporter Keen Elsa said three or four villages on the popular tourist coast near the southern town of Lalomanu on Samoa’s main island of Upolu had been “wiped out” by waves.

Keni said he had visited the town’s main hospital where “there are bodies everywhere,” including at least one child.

A resident of one of the villages, Theresa Falele Dussey, told Radio New Zealand her house has been destroyed by the tsunami, as were houses and cars in a neighbouring village.

She has been evacuated to Mt Vaea near Apia. “We just thanking God that we’re alive,” she said.

New Zealand tourist Graeme Ansell said the beach village of Faofao on Upolu Island was levelled.

“It was very quick. The whole village has been wiped out,” Ansell told National Radio from a hill near Samoa’s capital, Apia.

“There’s not a building standing. We’ve all clambered up hills, and one of our party has a broken leg. There will be people in a great lot of need ’round here.”

The powerful quake jolted people awake.

‘Trees, houses shaking’

In Apia, families reported shaking that lasted for up to three minutes.

“It was pretty strong; it was long and lasted at least two minutes,” one resident told local radio.

“It’s the strongest I have felt, and we ran outside. You could see all the trees and houses were shaking,” he said.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre put the quake’s magnitude at 8.3 while the US Geological Service put it at 8.0.

The US Geological Service said the quake struck 35km below the ocean floor, 190km from American Samoa and 200km from Samoa.

Aftershocks are continuing to jolt the two nations, as well as Tonga’s northern tourist islands of Vava’u.

Tsunami warning cancelled

New Zealand had been expected to be hit by a one-metre high wave about 10am local time (0700 AEST), however the alert has since been cancelled after waves reached just 40cm.

A 1.5-metre tsunami wave swept into the American Samoa capital Pago Pago shortly after the earthquake, sending sea water surging inland about 100 metres before receding, leaving some cars stuck in mud.

Electricity outages were reported and telephone lines were jammed.

In Fagatogo, water reached the waterfront town’s meeting field and covered portions of the main highway, which also was plagued by rock slides.

Mr McMullan said while a number of Australians had been injured it appeared to be not as bad as it may have been.

“My advice is that the Australians are stable,” he said.

“All of them have been able to contact their own families directly and none of them have said to the high commission they need any special extra assistance.”

No news on Liberals as Turnbull leaves

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January 15, 2019 by admin

Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull has reportedly left Parliament House after a tense meeting with possible challenger Joe Hockey, asking press to leave himself and wife Lucy alone.


Turnbull’s wife drove him from the premises in their grey BMW, amid furious speculation by senior political journlaists on Twitter over whether or not he would be coming back as head of the coalition.

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey left the private meeting shortly before the embattled leader, who despite a ferocious mutiny in his ranks had appeared relaxed and smiling over the weekend.

Earlier, Liberal powerbroker Nick Minchin and senior Liberals Christopher Pyne, Ian Macfarlane and Eric Abetz were in discussions with Turnbull morning ahead of tomorrow’s Liberal leadership showdown.

Tony Abbott, the only declared challenger, says he is not overly confident of his chances in a leadership ballot on Tuesday, frontrunner Joe Hockey has yet to make up his mind, while Kevin Andrews won’t rule out another tilt at the top job.

Mr Turnbull is facing a second leadership spill in less than a week, as the Senate continues debating Labor’s carbon pollution reduction scheme.

Mr Abbott arrived at Parliament House on Monday saying he was not “over-confident” he had the numbers.

“I’m still talking patiently and carefully to all of my colleagues,” he told reporters.

Mitch Fifield, one of more than a dozen Liberal MPs to resign from the frontbench or other senior positions last week, said the Liberals had already moved on from Mr Turnbull.

“On Tuesday we will have a new leader of the party,” he said, while backing Mr Hockey as the replacement.

An opinion poll, published on Monday, shows the opposition’s treasury spokesman has the edge over Mr Turnbull with voters.

At least two Liberals, chief climate change negotiator Ian Macfarlane and senator Gary Humphries, declared they were in Mr Turnbull’s corner.

And former opposition leader John Hewson, rolled as party leader in 1994, said the moves against Mr Turnbull were both a tragedy and gross disloyalty.

He also warned Mr Hockey that he risked ending his political career “early” if he accepted the leadership.

But Howard government foreign minister Alexander Downer said he thought Mr Hockey would be a good choice.

“He was a very good minister and handled some difficult issues. He’s a charming guy as you can see just from watching him on television, a very entertaining and amusing person, a very decent person,” Mr Downer told Fairfax Radio.

“I think if he does become the leader he would be a very interesting choice.”

Meanwhile, the Senate has begun what could be a marathon sitting as it considers more than 200 amendments to Labor’s legislation.

Rebel coalition senators will attempt to refer the legislation to a Senate committee, delaying any final vote until February.

A new Nielsen poll in Fairfax newspapers gives gives Mr Hockey a four percentage point lead over Mr Turnbull — 36 per cent to 32 per cent, with former frontbencher Tony Abbott on 20 per


The poll was taken on Friday and Saturday as the Coalition faced huge divisions over emissions trading, and is the fifth consecutive Nielsen poll in which Mr Hockey is the preferred Coalition leader.

Meanwhile, the latest Newspoll in The Australian newspaper shows Mr Turnbull’s preferred prime minister rating has fallen a massive eight percentage points in the past fortnight to a record low of 14 per cent.

The figure compares with Kevin Rudd’s preferred prime minister rating of 65 per cent.

Mr Hockey got 33 per cent of the vote when those surveyed were asked who was the best person to lead the Liberals, while Mr Turnbull got 30 per cent, followed by Tony Abbott on 19 per cent.

McIlroy in contention but rues sloppy start in Korea

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August 17, 2019 by admin

“I’m driving the ball very well and for the most part my iron play is pretty good, but I definitely missed a few opportunities out there,” the Northern Irishman, who capped a brilliant 2012 with a second major win, told the OneAsia Tour.


“I definitely could have been a few shots better, but I’m in a good position going into the weekend and that’s all you can ask for.”

South Korea’s Hong Soon-sang was the clubhouse leader midway through Friday’s second round after firing a bogey-free 68 for a five-under total.

That mark looked way beyond the 24-year-old McIlory, who started his round on the 10th and made four bogeys in five holes from the 12th to slip well down the field.

However, McIlroy displayed all the talent that helped him claim the world number one ranking last year as he rallied with five birdies over his remaining 10 holes to leave him handily placed heading into the weekend.

A dropped shot on his last was the only disappointing aspect of his charge back up the field.

“There was a few sloppy shots, or sloppily played holes. I made three (consecutive) bogeys on the back nine which wasn’t great but most of the other stuff was actually pretty solid,” the former U.S. Open and U.S. PGA Champion said.

“After that stretch today on the back nine, I turned it around and played the last 10 holes in four-under, so it was a pretty good effort. I was a little disappointed to bogey the last there, but it was good for the most part.”

McIlroy is back in action following a four-week break and explained what was required to get back in the winner’s circle.

“Just to keep playing the way I am, stay patient,” he said. “I don’t need to go out there and be overly aggressive, but I just want to get myself into a good position for Sunday if possible.”

($1 = 1063.5250 won)

(Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by John O’Brien)

Analysis – Broke Wallabies need to beat All Blacks

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August 17, 2019 by admin

It’s no longer just about salvaging pride from a season of massive underachievement, including the British and Irish Lions series loss and crushing defeats to New Zealand in the first two Bledisloe fixtures.


For the Wallabies, it’s now about the money.

If you believe Australian Rugby Union boss Bill Pulver, Australian rugby is on the verge of going belly up. He has been crying poor for some time and now he has player wages firmly in his sights.

Pulver, a multimillionaire with a leaning towards performance-based paid workforces, has been in talks with the players’ union about ditching match payments of $14,000 a test, win, lose or draw.

That the union has countenanced such a proposal without immediately flagging the prospect of a player strike is an indication of just how weak the Wallabies players’ bargaining position has become.

Australia has won two World Cups but the last of those was in 1999 and now the players’ lot is a simple case of losers having no leverage.

It’s against this backdrop that the Wallabies take on the world’s best team on Saturday under the closed roof of the Otago Stadium in Dunedin.

Will the prospect of taking what could amount to a $100,000 per season hit to the wallet finally inspire the Wallabies to do the seemingly impossible and beat one of the finest All Blacks sides of recent times? Just maybe.

Although backing the Wallabies on 2013 form is only for true believers, there remains a glimmer of realistic hope with the late injury withdrawals on Friday of All Blacks captain Richie McCaw and winger Corey Jane.

The pair has been replaced by Sam Cane at flanker and Charles Piutau on the wing, both solid players but not with the same pedigree as McCaw and Jane.

The Wallabies, meanwhile, have not been without injury woes of their own but who is to say injury-enforced changes will not finally produce a winning combination against the world champions?


Peter Betham replacing Joe Tomane on the wing is a case in point. New Zealand-born Betham poses more questions on attack than Tomane and he could make life interesting for All Blacks centre Ben Smith, a winger-fullback who has been selected out of position to replace the sabbatical-bound Conrad Smith.

Betham and fullback Israel Folau combining in attack with clever running lines and switches could certainly exploit Smith’s inexperience.

Wallaby inside centre Christian Lealiifano is also out injured and replaced by Matt Toomua. Again, like Betham, this could have been the right selection anyway as Lealiifano, while steady and tradesman-like, has not played with any great ambition.

He has kicked goals and made tackles, but has not troubled the defensive line much and should have been replaced, injured or not.

And there’s also the Quade Cooper factor. The enigmatic and at times error-prone flyhalf is well overdue a decent game against the All Blacks. He’s too good a player to keep underperforming against them.

However, as with all trans-Tasman battles, it’ll come down to the forwards and more than likely the front rows.

That’s where the All Blacks have the edge with Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu and Charlie Faumuina up against Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore and James Slipper.

But with Saia Fainga’a, Benn Robinson, and Sekope Kepu on the bench, there may be a slender advantage to the Wallabies later in the game against New Zealand’s front row back-up of Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett and Ben Franks.

The bookmakers have the Wallabies at long odds of 6-1, with even money for a 14.5 point handicap.

Given the players’ powerful financial motivations going into the test, a close result, say within 10 points, would not surprise.

A Wallabies win would be a massive financial windfall for punters but potentially also for the Australian players, who might suddenly find themselves with some leverage to say no to pay cuts.

Having said all that, though, we are talking about the beating the All Blacks at home.

(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)

NSW bushfire victim’s ‘miracle’ escape

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August 17, 2019 by admin

“He was telling me to get out, crying,” she recalled on Friday.


“I said ‘Look, I will do everything I can to be okay’.”

The mum-of-five made a terrifying escape from the bushfire that ripped through the lower Blue Mountains on Thursday, destroying scores of homes around Springwood, Yellow Rock and Winmalee.

She returned on Friday, embracing her daughter Amy as the pair took in the rubble and ashes that had been their home.

“It was just completely gutted, to the ground,” she told AAP.

“There was nothing left except a baby cup my daughter had when she was little.”

The family is now homeless and their belongings were uninsured, but Ms Hubbard said the fact she survived at all was a “miracle”.

She’d been napping when disaster struck – woken by a phone call from a worried colleague, wanting to know if she was near the fires.

“I hung up and said ‘I’ll be fine’,” she said.

“But when I went out and checked outside my veranda there was a tree alight and fire all around the backyard.”

She threw the pets in the car but was blocked by “a wall of smoke”.

Frantic, she approached strangers on the street and asked if she could seek shelter in their home.

“The sun was totally blocked out and houses were burning down to the ground all around us,” she said.

Without running water, the neighbours used buckets and wet towels – “whatever we could get our hands on” – to douse embers, knowing the house was their only refuge.

Then came a change in the wind.

This time, the sudden shift that so often turns deadly in bushfires cleared a path through the smoke instead.

“It was a miracle, actually,” Ms Hubbard said.

She plans to take her youngest kids back to the shell of their old house on Saturday, “to give them closure”.

Then the rebuilding begins.

“This will be a fresh start for us,” Ms Hubbard said.

“We’re a pretty resilient family.”


6.38pm RFS transport update

Mt Victoria Fire: The Main Western Railway may open or close on short notice. For latest information check 南宁桑拿网,南宁夜生活,/1C4XayW7TV #nswfires

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 18, 2013

5.44 RFS property update

RFS confirms that an initial assessment of properties in Springwood and Winmalee has been carried out. So far, 81 properties destroyed and 37 damaged. 


Bargo sports ground – centre for aerial operations.

— Barry O’Farrell (@barryofarrell) October 18, 2013


Linksview Road Fire, Springwood (Blue Mountains): Fire has been downgraded from Emergency Warning to Watch & Act. #NSWRFS #nswfires

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 18, 2013


Centrelink is offering support for people whose homes have been lost. To contact Centerlink, phone 180 2266.

4.23pm RFS Emergency warning

Emergency Warning: Linksview Rd Fire, Springwood (Blue Mountainns) has progressed into the area around St Columbus.

4.16pm RFS downgrade 

Camden Valley Way fire, Leppington (Macarthur) fire has been downgraded to advice.

4.04 Tony Abbott gets briefing on Blue Mountains fires from Comissioner Fitzsimmons

PM Tony Abbott gets a briefing on Blue Mtns fires from #NSWRFS Commissioner #nswfires

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 18, 2013

3.33pm Tony Abbott speaks to media

“This is a fire emergency that could go on for some time.”

3.33pm RFS Emergency Warning update

An Emergency Warning is in place for the area around Chapman Parade at Springwood due to fire activity.

3.24pm RFS update: Camden Valley Way

Camden Valley Way: Fire has been downgraded to Watch & Act


Emergency Warning – Camden Valley Way fire, Leppington (Camden) 南宁桑拿网,南宁夜生活,/XNRXhVmwUv Fire burning towards Bringelly Road #NSWRFS #nswfires

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 18, 2013


Hall Road Fire, Balmoral Village (Southern Highlands / Wollondilly): Fire has crossed railway line at Yanderra. Main Southern Railway closed

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 18, 2013

2.54pm RFS posts alert that crews are on the scene at a fire on camden Valley Way.

“Property directly threatened. Residents in the area should shelter in place.”

2.35pm NSW RFS updates emergency warnings

An Emergency Warning is in place for the Ruttleys Road Fire. There is a threat to properties in the area around Chain Valley Road. For more visit the RFS website.

2.30pm RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons speaks to media in the Blue Mountains with Premier Barry O’Farrell.

Commissioner Fitzsimmons described the conditions as “still a very hostile” and said 86,000 hectares of countryside was being burnt, including seven major fires covering 50,000 hectares.

2.18pm NSW RFS updates emergency warnings

An Emergency Warning is in place for the area around Chapman Parade at Springwood due to fire activity. For more visit the RFS website.


Ruttleys Rd (Wyong LGA): A Community Meeting will be held tonight at Swansea Workers Club, 9 Rawson St at 6pm. #nswfires

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 18, 2013



evidence of the ferocity of the fires – Yellowrock

— Barry O’Farrell (@barryofarrell) October 18, 2013


RFS confirms Students from Springwood High School are relocating to Faulconbridge Public School.

1.16pm Professor Ross Bradstock says the fires in the Blue Mountains are the worst since 1968.


“On average there has been one destructive fire a decade in the Blue Mountains, but these appear to be the most destructive fires since 1968, when over 100 houses were also lost in the same area,” says Professor Bradstock, Director of the Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires.

“We are in a very dry situation in the greater Sydney region and when these landscapes dry severely, many of the natural barriers to fire are removed. In these sorts of dry conditions fires can burn for weeks until there is a significant change in the weather.”

Factbox: Bushfire resources across Australia

1.11pm NSW RFS updates emergency warnings

The RFS has reissued an emergency warning for a fire burning in  the Wyong area on the NSW central coast and urging residents to take shelter. Detailed information here.

An emergency warning is also in place in Springwood in the Blue Mountains. Full information on the warning here.

1.10pm Lake Macquarie Mayor Jodie Harrison said historic homes in the area have been destroyed.

“I’ve been advised … that it’s been confirmed that four houses in the heritage village of Catherine Hill Bay have been lost,” she told ABC radio.

“The historic jetty is currently on fire.”

She described “flames, a huge amount of smoke and lots of risk”.

1.02pm Students in Springwood to stay put at Springwood High School, RFS says.

Linksview Road, Springwood: UPDATE Students will now be remaining at Springwood High School and are not relocating. #NSWRFS #nswfires

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 18, 2013

12.58pm The NSW Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service Inc releases a factsheet on how wildlife should be cared for during a bushfire.  

12.40pm Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the thoughts and prayers of every Australian are with the people who are suffering and affected by the bushfires in New South Wales.

12.37pm NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has taken this image of the bushfire damage seen from the skies.

— Barry O’Farrell (@barryofarrell) October 18, 2013


12.28pm As firefighters continue to battle fires across NSW, some residents in the Blue Mountains and on the Central Coast have told their stories of survival. Read the accounts here.

“My husband came up and said to me ‘Look, we’ve had all our windows blow up. The house is on fire. We’re not going to save it’.”

12.21pm A bushfire flares up in Springwood’s Chapman Parade.

EMERGENCY WARNING: Fire has flared up at Chapman Parade at Springwood. Emergency phone warning is being sent to people in the area #nswfire

— 702 ABC Sydney (@702sydney) October 18, 2013


12.00pm Strike teams are assembling in Springwood in the Blue Mountains.

#FRNSW strike teams are assembling @ Springwood. Crews will soon be tasked with mopping up & f/fighting ops

— Fire & Rescue NSW (@FireRescueNSW) October 18, 2013

11.40am SBS World News Australia reporter, Nikki Canning is a resident of Springwood and is preparing as the fires creep closer to her house. She spoke with Naomi Selvaratnam. Hear the full interview below:


11.28am The view from the skies of the bushfires in the state’s south.

Bushfires south of Sydney blanketing NSW in smoke

— Luke Meehan (@lukasm) October 17, 2013

11.27am Low-income earners seeking disaster relief grants have been advised to call number below.

The Disaster Welfare Assistance Line (1800 018 444) is open for info about disaster relief grants for low income earners with no insurance.

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 18, 2013

11.14am: Evacuation centres are currently open in Springwood, Lithgow, Raymond Terrace, Swansea and Doyalson. Some others have closed, but this information is subject to change. Please click the link below to view full details. 

Status of evacuation centres: 南宁桑拿网,南宁夜生活,/NoV1MXIOO1 #NSWRFS #nswfires

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 17, 2013

 11.03am: RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons says he hopes a warmer change won’t be as severe as the conditions yesterday.

“Come Sunday and Monday, we can expect to see a return to warmer, drier conditions and a wind pattern dominating out of the north-west, albeit at this stage it’s not expected to be quite as strong and as gusty as we saw yesterday.”

10.53am: The Ruttleys Road fire near Wyong continues to burn out of control, the NSW Rural Fire Service has advised. More than 1500 hectares of scrub and bushland have been burnt so far. 

Ruttleys Road Fire: Reports that fire is impacting the township of Wyong are incorrect. The fire is burning approx 25km to the NE of Wyong

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 17, 2013

10.31am Eighty national parks have been closed due to the bushfires.

The @OEHmedia has updated its list of national park closures. 8 parks affected by fire; 80 parks with closed areas. 南宁桑拿,南宁夜生活,/Hj0Mlm5jNs

— NSW Police (@nswpolice) October 17, 2013

10.20am In a statement, NSW Police say a report is being prepared for the Coroner to officially determine how the63-year-old man died while defending his home against a fire in the state’s north.


10.16am Sydney Area Health says two people are being treated at Concord Hospital with bushfire-related injuries.

9.49am NSW Premier O’Farrell confirms a 63-year-old man has died defending his home against a fire in Lake Munmorah in the state’s north.

9.46am Authorities say they’re preparing for the worst.

“We cannot rule out the very real prospect that some people may not have got out,” RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons says.

9.39am NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has just received the latest briefing from the NSW RFS HQ.

@barryofarrell at #NSWRFS HQ for briefing on #nswfires

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 17, 2013


9.26am Authorities are recommending people use the ‘Fires Near Me’ app to keep updated with bushfire warnings.

Download @NSWRFS mobile app ‘Fires Near Me’ for a list of fires & fire info. They also have a mobile site: 南宁桑拿网,南宁夜生活,/x4rP7C5s4m #nswfires

— NSW Police (@nswpolice) October 17, 2013



9.23am Greens MP Adam Bandt has defended suggesting the coalition government’s climate change strategy could lead to more devastating bushfires like those raging across NSW.

As fierce blazes threatened thousands of homes across the state, Mr Bandt accused Prime Minister Tony Abbott of risking lives by taking the country “backwards” on efforts to combat global warming.

“Why Tony Abbott’s plan means more bushfires for Australia and more pics like this of Sydney,” he tweeted, alongside an image of bushfire smoke enveloping the city.

The remarks sparked a backlash online, but Mr Bandt denied it was an act of political opportunism.

“I don’t think that talking about protecting the Australian way of life and stopping fires from happening in the future is startling,” he said.


9.13am Salvation Army launches bushfire relief appeal

We have launched a Bushfire Relief Appeal to help those affected by #nswfires. If you’d like to donate, please visit 南宁桑拿网,南宁夜生活,/OVHvWPPDwz

— The Salvation Army (@salvos) October 17, 2013


9.03am Message of thanks for firefighters who have battled blazes throughout the night.

Thank you to the thousands of firefighters who have so bravely fought fires in difficult conds. #NSWRFS #nswfires

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 17, 2013

9.01am NSW RFS warns residents and motorists to stay away from fire-affected areas. More traffic info here: 南宁桑拿网, 

8.58am List of evacuation centres:

Wyong & Lake Macquarie

Doyalson RSL – Pacific Highway Doyalson

Swansea RSL – 5 Bridge Street Swansea

Swansea Workers Club – 9 Rawson Street Swansea

Lithgow & Blue Mountains

Lithgow Workers – 3-7 Tank Street Lithgow

Bilpin Community Centre – 2596 Bells Line Road Bilpin

Springwood Sports Club – 83 Macquarie Road Springwood

Kings Park Sports Complex – Newline Road Kings Road

Blackheath Community Centre – Great Western Highway

Port Stephens

Tomaree Sports Clubs – Nelson Bay Road Nelson Bay

Wests Mayfield – 32 Industrial Drive Mayfield


Brethren Church – Wonga Road Picton

More info on NSW evacuation centres here.

8.47am Smoky haze over Sydney, with the smell of the bushfires described as “like an ashtray”. 

8.42am Areas in Sydney’s outer west reduced to ash in the wake of a bushfire.

Heartbreaking photos of the devastation in Sydney’s outer west.. @B105LSA

— Amelia Oberhardt (@ameliaoberhardt) October 17, 2013

8.34am The mayor of the Blue Mountains has praised the resilience of residents who lost their homes in Thursday’s bushfires.

“The worst factors came together at the worst time,” Mark Greenhill said.

“We spent the evening … comforting residents who had lost everything. This has been a very tough 24 hours for the community of the Blue Mountains.

“The resilience that they showed is awesome.”


8.28am NSW Paramedics urge caution after treating dozens of people for smoke inhalation last night.

NSW Paramedics treated dozens last night for breathing illness and w heavy smoke in the air,@asnsw urges continued caution today #nswfires

— Ambulance NSW (@ASNSW) October 17, 2013

8.07am Over 20,000 hectares scorched in Fire near Bells Line Rd, NSW RFS says.

Fire near Bells Line Rd has burnt approx 24,000 hectares. 140km of fire edge. #NSWRFS #nswfires

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 17, 2013

8.05am Information on evacuation centres across NSW can be found here

 In pictures: Bushfires sweep across NSW

8.03am Dramatic images from the frontlines of the Springwood fire.


View of Springwood fire looking toward Winmalee from Warrimoo Oval #nswfires #nswrfs

— dann weatherhead (@weatherhead) October 17, 2013

7.53am Factbox: Bushfire resources across Australia

7.50am  Numerous schools are closed on Friday.

A number of schools closed across Blue Mountains today. Check 南宁桑拿网,南宁夜生活,/7FdbypJAQv for info. #NSWRFS #nswfires

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 17, 2013

7.51am Emergency Warning remains in place for Ruttleys Road Fire, Wyong.

The NSW RFS says: “The Ruttleys Road Fire is burning in the area of Doyalson North, Swansea, Cams Wharf, Murrays Beach, Cave Beach and Catherine Hill Bay areas.”

7.40am Stay with us throughout the day for live updates on the battle against bushfires in NSW.

NSW Rural Fire Services say they expect a tough day ahead with 65 fires still burning in NSW and windy conditions expected.

65 fires in NSW, 25 uncontained. Today will be challenging – hot and windy. Stay up to date at 南宁桑拿网,南宁夜生活,/GuRTiatjQ6 #NSWRFS #nswfires

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 16, 2013In pictures: Bushfires sweep across NSW

Abbott looks towards hot, dry summer

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August 17, 2019 by admin

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has urged NSW employers to be patient with workers who are volunteer fire fighters during the coming long, hot, dry summer.


“This is an important way in which the families and businesses can serve our community, by supporting those of their members who are out with the rural fire brigades,” he told reporters at Winmalee Fire Station in the Blue Mountains.

The most serious of the fires currently burning across NSW is in the region near Winmalee.

Mr Abbott, a Rural Fire Service volunteer, thanked those working on the NSW emergency.

“I just want to say how sorry we are on behalf of the people and the parliament of Australia for the heartache which so many hundreds of people in NSW are currently dealing with, but how proud we are of the thousands of volunteers and full-time professionals (fire fighters),” he said.

It was too early to tell how many properties had been destroyed or how much the recovery bill might be.

It’s believed hundreds of homes have been destroyed and one person has been confirmed dead.

People affected by the fires will be able to get disaster relief payments of $1000 per adult and $400 per child.

The payments will be available in the severely affected areas of the Blue Mountains, Lithgow, Muswellbrook, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Port Stephens, Wyong and Wingecarribee.

“It’s quite a long time since we’ve had property losses in the order of hundreds here in NSW, so this was a very, very big fire,” Mr Abbott said.

The prime minister noted Australia had a long experience of managing bushfires and had the infrastructure and personnel in place to deal with such emergencies.

“It could be a long, hot, dry summer,” he said.

“We’re also lucky to have supportive employers, and supportive families who allow their loved ones to go out and do this kind of work when it’s needed.”

Mr Abbott is unlikely to join his Davidson brigade for fire fighting duties over the weekend, his office says.

Uganda on alert amid threat of Kenya-style mall attack

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August 17, 2019 by admin

At least 67 people were massacred in the upmarket shopping centre in Nairobi when gunmen stormed the crowded complex on September 21, firing from the hip and hurling grenades at shoppers and staff.


“Stay alert and watch each other’s steps and activities, as we are still threatened by terror,” the Ugandan police said in a message.

It followed a message Tuesday from the US embassy in Uganda which said it was continuing “to assess reports that a Westgate-style attack may soon occur in Kampala”.

Security was stepped up around town, but the embassy said that there was no further information on the timing or location of any attack.

The Al-Qaeda linked Shebab insurgents claimed the Westgate attack, saying it was in revenge for Kenya military action against the group in southern Somalia.

Uganda also has troops in Somalia with the African Union force that is battling the Shebab, and has been attacked on home soil by the extremists before, in 2010 bomb blasts that killed 76 people.

The warnings come as a Norwegian citizen of Somali origin was reported to be suspected of being one of the attackers who stormed the Westgate.

The 23-year-old was named by the BBC as Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow, and who is suspected of helping to plan and carry out the mall attack.

Dhuhulow was born in Somalia, but he and his family moved to Norway as refugees in 1999, according to relatives who spoke to the BBC.

However, other relatives denied it was Dhuhulow who appeared in security camera footage of the attack.

A propaganda video released this week by the Shebab praised foreign fighters, showing several insurgents it said had come from Britain and who had been killed in battle.

The video was apparently made before the Westgate attack as it made no reference to it, although it highlights the “suffering of Muslims in Kenya” as well as other countries.

The film, narrated by a man in a military jacket, face hooded in a black mask and speaking with an apparently British accent, claims fighters from multiple nations including Ethiopia, Eritrea, Lebanon, India and Pakistan had all fought with the force.

Renard ‘posterboy’ for coaches seeking route home

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July 17, 2019 by admin

Rarely have any returned home to coach a leading club but it is on the back of taking Zambia to the 2012 African Nations Cup title that Renard is suddenly catapulted from overseas exile into the coaching hot seat at Sochaux.


They sit second bottom of the standings and have taken a gamble in a bid to get out of their current quagmire – hiring a coach who might be local but is in many ways foreign to the French league.

The move back home comes with fortuitous timing as his contract at Zambia had just months to run with the country already eliminated from the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

Among his last jobs in France was running a garbage collection company, cleaning empty offices at night and dreaming of a chance to make a career in football.

When he realised as a teenager he was never going to make the grade as a top professional player, Renard coached at amateur level but never got a chance with a top division team.

“I am not in the who’s who,” he told Reuters in an interview two years ago on the eve of the victorious Nations Cup final.

“I took out the rubbish for eight years and now I’m about to coach in the African Nations Cup final. Football is magical right?”

A chance encounter with Claude Le Roy, another Frenchman better known in Africa, saw him offered the opportunity to be his assistant in China, at Cambridge United in the fourth tier of English football and with Ghana’s national team.

Renard’s first solo job was in the anonymity of club football in Vietnam but his break came when Le Roy recommended him to Zambia.


He became their national coach in 2008 and took them to the Nations Cup quarter-finals in the tournament in Angola two years later.

They were bundled out in a penalty shootout by Nigeria but Renard got a lucrative offer to stay on as Angola coach.

That proved a brief and disappointing tenure but he bounced back in Algeria at top club USM Alger and had no hesitation when Zambia asked him to return in late 2011.

Months later they were African champions and Renard an international figure, his chiselled good looks and trademark tight white shirt marking him out.

“I always had Ligue 1 as an objective,” he told reporters as he prepared this week for his first game at home to table-topping Monaco on Sunday.

“But I’m not a magician, I can only offer hard work,” he told France Football magazine.

His progress will be closely watched by a posse of expatriate coaches around the developing world with similar ambitious of returning home in glory, as well as many admirers across Africa.

His mentor Le Roy had a similar chance at Paris St Germain but his stay was all too brief.

Philippe Troussier, who made his name in West Africa as the “white witch doctor” and took Japan to the World Cup quarter-finals in 2002, went home to a surprise post at Olympique Marseille in 2004 but lasted a half-season and has not had a major post since.

(Additional reporting by André Assier; Editing by John O’Brien)

Salary cap for youngsters would help England – Campbell

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July 17, 2019 by admin

Campbell, 39, who made 73 appearances for England during a 20-year playing career, said too many foreign youngsters in English academies were hampering the development of local players.


In an interview with Reuters ahead of the publication of his autobiography “Sol Searching” next year, the former Tottenham, Arsenal and Portsmouth centre-back, said: “You cannot stop overseas players playing in the Premier League.

“But I think there should be a salary cap for younger, youth team players.

“Youth team players from overseas are coming into the academies and earning too much money too young and English youngsters are suffering.

“Their salaries should be capped until there are 18 or 19 or they get to the first team.

“It would make coming to England less attractive for foreign youngsters and give some of the English players time to learn their trade. They would not be under such severe pressure and it would allow them time to grow.

“It would mean we could get them up to the standard to play at the highest level. It would give them time and space to develop.

“Everyone else, the Germans, for example, have time and space. In Germany, there may be a couple of Swiss guys, or Austrian. You are not going to have 60 or 70 percent non-German youngsters at youth team level.

“In Spain, you might have a couple of Portuguese or South Americans but you are not going to have 60 or 70 percent of players from around the world in youth teams in Spain.”


Campbell’s career spanned the first 19 seasons of the Premier League from the time he made his debut with Spurs as an 18-year-old in 1992 until he retired in 2012 after a handful of games with Newcastle United.

At the start of the 1992-93 season when he began his career there were less than 40 overseas players in the Premier League, and the latest estimate is that now only around 30 percent of players are English.

Campbell, who was one of the relatively few English players to regularly feature for Arsenal during his first five seasons there after his move from Spurs, added: “When I was growing up at Tottenham, we had one overseas player, Quinton Fortune from South Africa.

“Everyone else was British, they were English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish. If you want to get into an academy now you are competing against kids from all over the world and that’s why the money for young players should be capped.”

He also said that England manager Roy Hodgson should play the younger players in his squad at the World Cup finals next year.

“Win, lose or draw, it will be a fantastic experience for them. I always wished I had played in South America.

“It will also be fantastic for the younger lads to get that experience and of playing in that tournament, so I hope they play.

“For the younger lads to get there and not to play in it, is not the best way.

“You have got to blood these guys in tournament play because that is how they get better. If you keep the younger guys on the bench, that’s not the best thing to do.

“You want to get them playing, because next time around they will have the confidence and know what its all about.”

(Reporting by Mike Collett)

One dead and 80 homes destroyed in fires

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July 17, 2019 by admin

They have been described as apocalyptic, devastating and some of the worst we have ever seen.


The fires in NSW have left one man dead and hundreds of homes feared destroyed, while emergency services warn there may be worse news to come.

More than 1500 firefighters were on the ground across the state on Friday as more than 90 fires scorched through 91,000 hectares and destroyed at least 80 homes.

A 63-year-old man collapsed from a heart attack while defending his house at Lake Munmorah on the NSW central coast on Thursday – marking the first fatality in the crisis.

Walter Linder collapsed in his yard and despite attempts to revive him, died at Wyong Hospital.

As residents and emergency services began returning to affected areas, Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons warned more casualties may be discovered.

“There is a possibility that we might find people who haven’t been able to get out of harm’s way,” he told reporters.

The fires, he said, were some of the most damaging and destructive the state has ever seen.

Mr Fitzsimmons became visibly emotional as he addressed the media, stopping to compose himself as he praised the work of his colleagues.

“We have the best firefighters in the world,” he said.

But for some people’s homes, the ferocity of the fires were too great.

Eighty-one properties are confirmed to have been destroyed and 37 damaged by blazes in the Blue Mountains communities of Springwood and Winmalee.

But with only 30 per cent of the area so far being inspected, the RFS expects the numbers to rise.

One local, Helen Walton, who has lived through three major bushfires since moving to the mountains said the fire – which scorched almost 2000 hectares – was by far the worst she had seen.

But her house remains, and she vows to as well.

“We’ll stay. Of course we’ll stay. We might have to re-landscape, though,” she told AAP.

Springwood resident Catherine Hubbard made a terrifying escape from the bushfire that destroyed her home, seeking refuge with strangers.

“The sun was totally blocked out and houses were burning down to the ground all around us,” she said.

Without running water, the neighbours used buckets and wet towels – “whatever we could get our hands on” – to douse embers, knowing the house was their only refuge.

Then came a change in the wind which cleared a path through the smoke.

“It was a miracle, actually,” Ms Hubbard said.

While the Blue Mountains was the worst hit region, residents of Lithgow, the Southern Highlands and the central coast also faced another tough day as blazes flared up across the state, with the fire in Balmoral running rapidly.

In the quaint Catherine Hill Bay village near Lake Macquarie, resident Wayne Demarco surveyed the destruction caused by Thursday’s fire.

“It looks very apocalyptic … It looks horrible with telephone poles burned to the ground and things just destroyed.”

Two firefighters are in hospital with burns and a Winmalee man is being treated for smoke inhalation.

But there was some good news on Friday night, with all blazes downgraded to a watch and act alert or below as humidity rises and winds drop.

Firefighters were strengthening containment lines and getting out of control blazes in check before worsening weather conditions on Sunday and Monday.

But Mr Fitzsimmons warned the situation remained “very active, dynamic and dangerous.”

“The fight will continue night and day for days and, on some fire grounds, for weeks,” he said.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, an RFS volunteer himself, thanked those working on the NSW emergency.

“I just want to say how sorry we are on behalf of the people and the parliament of Australia for the heartache which so many hundreds of people in NSW are currently dealing with, but how proud we are of the thousands of volunteers and full-time professionals (fire fighters),” he said at Winmalee fire station.

Norwegian named as Kenya mall gunman suspect

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July 17, 2019 by admin

The 23-year-old was named as Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow, who the BBC said is suspected of helping to plan and carry out the attack on the upmarket Westgate mall.


Dhuhulow was born in Somalia, but he and his family moved to Norway as refugees in 1999, according to relatives who spoke to the BBC from the Norwegian town of Larvik, some 135 kilometres southwest of the capital Oslo.

However, other relatives denied it was Dhuhulow who appeared in security camera footage of the attack.

“None of the men in the video is the 23-year-old,” a relative told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

The relative’s name or links to the suspect were not disclosed, but they reportedly live in Larvik.

The BBC quoted one of Dhuhulow’s former neighbours Morten

Henriksen, who described the young man.

“He was pretty extreme, didn’t like life in Norway… got into trouble, fights, his father was worried,” Henriksen told the BBC, speaking of Dhuhulow as a teenager.

Last week Norway’s PST intelligence agency said it had launched a probe after it obtained information about the possible involvement of a Norwegian of Somali origin in both planning and carrying out the attack.

Norwegian investigators have been sent to Nairobi to work with their Kenyan counterparts, Norway’s PST said.

Neither the intelligence services nor the family responded to AFP phone calls on Friday morning.

Witnesses in the mall described how the fighters stormed the complex around midday on September 21 when it was crowded with shoppers, firing from the hip and hurling grenades at shoppers and staff.

The gunmen coldly executed scores of people, with witnesses recounting how in some cases they called out to those wounded, then finished them off at close range.

The siege was declared over four days later.

Kenyan police have named four of the attackers as Abu Baraal Al Sudani, Khatab Ali Khane and one man known simply as Umayr – reportedly all Somalis, plus a Kenyan of Somali origin, Omar Nabhan. However, the names are noms de guerre.

White says guilt-free after Brumbies walk-out

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July 17, 2019 by admin

White took the Canberra-based side to the final of the southern hemisphere competition this season and had two years left on his contract but quit abruptly last month to return to South Africa where he has been appointed director of rugby with Durban’s Sharks.


White had been in the running to succeed Robbie Deans as head coach of Australia after the New Zealander was moved on in the wake of the British and Irish Lions series loss, but former Queensland Reds coach Ewen McKenzie was preferred despite having no experience at test level.

White, who guided the Springboks to the 2007 World Cup win, told Fairfax media he had become “disillusioned” with the Brumbies job after being overlooked for the Wallabies.

“I told (the Brumbies) I was feeling disillusioned with where my career was going in Australia,” White said in comments published on Friday.

“And who says I can’t coach Australia after the World Cup? I’ve not turned my back on Australia.

“I don’t feel guilty at all about wanting to chase an international dream, players do it all the time.”

White, who helped turn the Brumbies from cellar-dwellers into contenders in his two years in charge, said he had felt “heartsore” to leave.

“I know that in my heart I did my bit and I gave my 100 per cent and there was no malice or skulduggery,” he said.

“The bottom line is I just wanted to move on. Families allow family members to move on. It happens. A lot of the guys I’ve spoken to, they all understand why it had to happen.”

White’s walk-out left the Brumbies with two caretakers in charge in assistants Laurie Fisher and former Wallaby Stephen Larkham. The club has little prospect of finding a replacement from outside the club with pre-season training already under way.

White will return to Canberra in May when the Brumbies host the Sharks.

“I will enjoy it,” he said. “I’ll catch up with a lot of my friends that I’ve got in Canberra. It’s not like I’m sitting here in trepidation thinking I’m going to have to go back to Canberra,” he said.

(Writing by Ian Ransom; Editing by Patrick Johnston)