Australian waterbomber helicopter dwarfed by huge wildfire

Rural Fire Service (RFS) crews engage in property protection of a number of homes along areas of Sydney, Australia, December 19, 2019. (File/AFP)
Updated 19 December 2019

Australian waterbomber helicopter dwarfed by huge wildfire

  • Three major blazes were burning around Sydney, blanketing the harbor city in ash and smoke
  • Temperatures soared above 45 degrees Celsius (113°F) in some areas of Sydney

SYDNEY: Firefighters battling huge bushfires in Australia used a waterbombing helicopter to try and douse a blaze on the outskirts of Sydney on Thursday, with aerial footage showing the aircraft dwarfed by thick black and grey billowing smoke.

Officials in New South Wales (NSW) state declared the second state-wide emergency in as many months on Thursday as more than 100 fires burned across the state, more than half of them uncontrolled.

Three major blazes were burning around Sydney, blanketing the harbor city in ash and smoke, as temperatures soared above 45 degrees Celsius (113°F) in some areas.

The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) posted footage on its official Twitter account of one of those fires, at Green Wattle Creek, around 80 km (50 miles) southeast of Sydney, as it jumped a railway line.

The short clip showed the waterbomber aircraft flying through the thick cloud to dump water on flames burning in bushland just meters from homes.

The RFS has warned people in high-danger areas to evacuate early as “there are simply not enough fire trucks for every house.”

“If you call for help, you may not get it,” the RFS said in an alert issued on Thursday. “Do not expect a fire truck. Do not expect a knock on the door. Do not expect a phone call.”

The state of emergency declared in NSW gives firefighters broad powers to control government resources, force evacuations, close roads and shut down utilities in a state that is home to more than 7 million people.


Minneapolis braces for more riots, arson following police killing of Afro-American George Floyd

Updated 30 May 2020

Minneapolis braces for more riots, arson following police killing of Afro-American George Floyd

CHICAGO: Minneapolis exploded into riots and arson this week after an African-American suspected of handling counterfeit money was killed on Monday during his arrest by two city police officers.

Videos on social media showed an officer placing his knee on George Floyd’s neck as he was handcuffed and being restrained on the street by the kerb. The 46-year-old said that he could not breathe, but police insisted that Floyd was “resisting arrest” and had to be forcibly restrained.

The officer who was seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck was arrested on Friday and charged with murder.

Floyd was pronounced dead at the scene and his family immediately called for an independent probe.

His family turned to civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who said the family’s first concern was to seek an autopsy independent of the police because of a lack of trust in law enforcement and to give their deceased family member a proper funeral.

“Is it two justice systems in America?” Crump said as he addressed the media. “One for black America and one for white America? We can’t have that. We have to have equal justice for the United States of America and that’s what I think the protesters are crying out for.”

Protests spread across the country and turned violent as arson destroyed property, including the police station where the police officers were assigned.

President Donald Trump denounced the rioters as “thugs” and warned that he might send in the military “to take control.” 

Minneapolis Police handed the investigation into Floyd’s death to the FBI and US Justice Department on Thursday night. Officials from the FBI and US Justice Department promised that the probe would be “robust and meticulous.”

The media’s role in the protests came sharply into focus when, early on Friday, CNN’s Omar Jimenez was arrested along with his TV crew.

CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota, who looked on as her colleague was being arrested, told viewers: “If you are just tuning in you are watching our correspondent Omar Jimenez being arrested by state police in Minnesota. We are not sure why our correspondent is being arrested.”