Crocodiles latest danger for Australian flood towns

Waves crash against pumps at a flooded gas station in Queensland, Australia March 9, 2018 in this image obtained from social media. (Kieran Volpe via Reuters)
Updated 11 March 2018

Crocodiles latest danger for Australian flood towns

MELBOURNE: Receding floodwaters in the northern Australian state of Queensland have revealed a new danger - crocodiles.
The unwelcome visitors have made their way into the town of Ingham towards the country's north-east tip, according to several residents' photos posted on social media, after four days of torrential rain broke river banks, covered pastureland and cut off towns.
Toby Millyard, crocodile researcher at Australia Zoo in Queensland, said the reptiles were known to use flood waters in the region to travel to different areas and search for food.
"Some crocodiles love it when it rains and they use the water's currents to travel; they're very smart animals," Millyard said in a phone interview. "But they're very easy to stay away from. As long as you're not in the water or standing by the edge, then you should be fine."
On Sunday morning, a group of school students and teachers stranded by floods were rescued from a isolated campsite south of the town of Tully, a Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) spokesman said.
Queensland state premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told media on Sunday that it would take several weeks to determine the full extent of the damage, especially on banana and sugar cane crops.
The Queensland state government has declared the area a "disaster" zone, while the Insurance Council of Australia has declared it a "catastrophe", which means that insurance claims will be fast-tracked. (Reporting by Alana Schetzer in MELBOURNE; Editing by Michael Perry)


UK’s Johnson to visit European capitals seeking Brexit breakthrough

Updated 18 August 2019

UK’s Johnson to visit European capitals seeking Brexit breakthrough

  • Johnson will travel for talks with German Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron
  • Johnson is expected to push for the EU to reopen negotiations over the terms of Brexit

LONDON: UK's Boris Johnson will visit European capitals this week on his first overseas trip as prime minister, as his government said Sunday it had ordered the scrapping of the decades-old law enforcing its EU membership.

Johnson will travel to Berlin on Wednesday for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and on to Paris Thursday for discussions with French President Emmanuel Macron, Downing Street confirmed on Sunday, amid growing fears of a no-deal Brexit in two and a half months.

The meetings, ahead of a two-day G7 summit starting Saturday in the southern French resort of Biarritz, are his first diplomatic forays abroad since replacing predecessor Theresa May last month.

Johnson is expected to push for the EU to reopen negotiations over the terms of Brexit or warn that it faces the prospect of Britain's disorderly departure on October 31 -- the date it is due to leave.

European leaders have repeatedly rejected reopening an accord agreed by May last year but then rejected by British lawmakers on three occasions, despite Johnson's threats that the country will leave then without an agreement.

In an apparent show of intent, London announced Sunday that it had ordered the repeal of the European Communities Act, which took Britain into the forerunner to the EU 46 years ago and gives Brussels law supremacy.

The order, signed by Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay on Friday, is set to take effect on October 31.

"This is a landmark moment in taking back control of our laws from Brussels," Barclay said in a statement.

"This is a clear signal to the people of this country that there is no turning back -- we are leaving the EU as promised on October 31, whatever the circumstances -- delivering on the instructions given to us in 2016."

The moves come as Johnson faces increasing pressure to immediately recall MPs from their summer holidays so that parliament can debate Brexit.

More than 100 lawmakers, who are not due to return until September 3, have demanded in a letter that he reconvene the 650-seat House of Commons and let them sit permanently until October 31.

"Our country is on the brink of an economic crisis, as we career towards a no-deal Brexit," said the letter, signed by MPs and opposition party leaders who want to halt a no-deal departure.

"We face a national emergency, and parliament must be recalled now."

Parliament is set to break up again shortly after it returns, with the main parties holding their annual conferences during the September break.

Main opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wants to call a vote of no confidence in Johnson's government after parliament returns.

He hopes to take over as a temporary prime minister, seek an extension to Britain's EU departure date to stop a no-deal Brexit, and then call a general election.

"What we need is a government that is prepared to negotiate with the European Union so we don't have a crash-out on the 31st," Corbyn said Saturday.

"This government clearly doesn't want to do that."

Britain could face food, fuel and medicine shortages and chaos at its ports in a no-deal Brexit, The Sunday Times newspaper reported, citing a leaked government planning document.

There would likely be some form of hard border imposed on the island of Ireland, the document implied.

Rather than worst-case scenarios, the leaked document, compiled this month by the Cabinet Office ministry, spells out the likely ramifications of a no-deal Brexit, the broadsheet claimed.

The document said logjams could affect fuel distribution, while up to 85 percent of trucks using the main ports to continental Europe might not be ready for French customs.

The availability of fresh food would be diminished and prices would go up, the newspaper said.