Australian wildfires destroy homes, kill cattle as hundreds of people flee

A house thats has been destroyed by a bushfire can be seen near the town of Cobden, located south west of Melbourne in Australia, on March 18, 2018. (AAP/David Crosling/via REUTERS)
Updated 18 March 2018
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Australian wildfires destroy homes, kill cattle as hundreds of people flee

SYDNEY: Australian authorities urged people to remain alert on Monday as wildfires that have destroyed homes, killed cattle and forced hundreds of residents to flee continued to burn out of control in the southeast of the country.
No deaths or serious injuries were reported as of Monday morning, but the bushfires have caused extensive damage in rural Victoria and New South Wales states.
The fires, believed to have been sparked by lightning on Saturday, were fanned by dry, hot winds as temperatures reached 41 C (106 F) throughout Sunday.
Emergency officials said conditions should ease on Monday but “watch and act” warnings remained in place for five locations.
Up to 35 homes and a school were destroyed in the small coastal town of Tathra in New South Wales, authorities said, where people fled to the beach to avoid the flames. Evacuation centers have been set up and several schools in affected areas were closed on Monday.
About 280 firefighters were battling the blazes while 22,000 homes were without power in the region after the high winds brought down trees, Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley said late on Sunday.
In the northern city of Darwin, about 25,000 homes were also without power after a tropical cyclone felled trees. No deaths were reported.
Bushfires are a common and deadly threat in Australia’s hot, dry summers, fueled by highly flammable eucalyptus trees.
In January, hundreds of holidaymakers had to be evacuated by boat from the beaches of the Royal National Park south of Sydney, when they became trapped by bushfires.
The 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria killed 173 people and injured more than 400.

(Reporting by Jane Wardell)


India seizes one ton of ketamine on boat, arrests six Myanmar crew

Updated 12 min 45 sec ago

India seizes one ton of ketamine on boat, arrests six Myanmar crew

  • India’s coast guard seized $42 million worth of ketamine

NEW DELHI: India’s coast guard has arrested six Myanmar men and seized $42 million worth of ketamine after spotting a suspicious vessel in the Indian Ocean near the Nicobar Islands.
The 1,160-kilogram drug haul came after coast guard aircraft spotted the boat, which had its lights off, on Wednesday in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the defense ministry said in a statement.
The boat’s crew did not respond to radio calls and the coast guard eventually boarded it, with officials finding “57 gunny bundles of suspicious substance” on Friday.
“Preliminary analysis ... revealed that the suspicious substance was ketamine and there were 1,160 packets of 1kg each onboard the vessel,” the ministry added.
The six Myanmar men and cargo were taken to Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where they were questioned by investigators.
They claimed they left Myanmar on September 14 and were due to rendezvous with another boat “operating near the Thailand-Malaysia maritime border line” on Saturday, the statement said.
The Nicobar Islands are located near Southeast Asia, off Myanmar’s coast.
Parts of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand are in the lawless “Golden Triangle” zone, the world’s second-largest drug-producing region after Latin America.
Large amounts drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine are churned out in remote jungle labs each year and smuggled across Asia and beyond.