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

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)


Sharif awaits UK flight go-ahead for urgent medical treatment

Updated 12 November 2019

Sharif awaits UK flight go-ahead for urgent medical treatment

  • Sharif's name had still to be removed from the country’s Exit Control List

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s ailing former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, was on Monday awaiting the go-ahead to travel to the UK for urgent medical treatment.

However, the 69-year-old’s name had still to be removed from the country’s Exit Control List (ECL) after his release on bail last month from a seven-year sentence for corruption, due to his ongoing health problems.

According to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders, Sharif had been allowed by the government to get medical treatment outside Pakistan, but the country’s anti-corruption watchdog, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), was still considering his no-fly status, which if cleared would then require endorsement from the Ministry of Interior.

Sharif, who has dominated Pakistani politics for three decades and was premier three times, has denied the corruption charges, claiming they were politically motivated.

“All the arrangements for his treatment abroad have been finalized, and we are now just waiting for the government to remove his name from the ECL,” the PML-N party chairman, Raja Zafarul Haq, told Arab News on Sunday.

Haq said Sharif’s younger brother and PML-N president, Shehbaz Sharif, and his personal doctor, Adnan Khan, would travel with him to London.

FASTFACT

Nawaz Sharif, who was Pakistan’s prime minister three times, has denied the corruption charges, claiming they were politically motivated.

Sharif had been scheduled to leave Pakistan for Britain at 9:05 a.m. on Monday with a private airline but was delayed because of the ECL decision hold-up.

On Friday, the Pakistani government granted Sharif permission to go abroad after Shehbaz requested the Ministry of Interior to remove his brother’s name from the ECL.

“The Ministry of Interior has taken all necessary actions keeping in view the urgency of the matter as pleaded by Shehbaz Sharif in his request,” a ministry statement had said.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi added on Friday that doctors had recommended Sharif be sent abroad for further examination. “If that is what the medical treatment requires, the government has been positive,” he told Reuters. “The prime minister (Imran Khan) has said everything possible should be done to show his life is protected.”

Asked if Sharif might be trying to leave Pakistan to seek a second period in exile, Qureshi said: “If their hands are clean, why should they be running away? I hope he recovers. When he recovers, why should he be sticking around in London? There’s no logic, there’s no reason for that.”