Regional

Pre-election voter survey launched ahead of the 2022 General Election

The Fijian Elections Office launched its Pre-Election Voter Survey for the 2022 General Election in Suva yesterday. Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem said the pre-election survey was a first of its kind to be done...

21st January

Fisherman recalls racing tsunami, raining rocks after Tongan volcano erupted

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Branko Sugar and his son were spearfishing on an outer reef in Tonga last Saturday. The air smelt of sulphur, as it had done for weeks, from the nearby active volcano, but he noticed the ash cloud from the crater was much higher. As the 61-year-old stowed away his spearfishing gear the...

COVID disrupts aid flight to tsunami-hit Tonga

WELLINGTON/SYDNEY (Reuters) – As aid trickles into the South Pacific nation of Tonga, devastated by a volcanic eruption and tsunami, an Australian aid flight was forced to return to base due to a positive COVID-19 case onboard, a defence official said on Friday. Tonga is COVID-free and has a strict border control policy, and is...

World’s first hydrogen tanker to ship test cargo from Australia to Japan

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – A Japanese-Australian venture producing hydrogen from brown coal is set to ship its maiden cargo on the world’s first liquid hydrogen carrier from near Melbourne to Kobe on Friday, in a test delayed by nearly a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Suiso Frontier, built by Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI),...

Queen Elizabeth sends condolences to Tonga

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Queen Elizabeth send condolences to the king of Tonga after a huge volcanic eruption triggered a tsunami and smothered islands in ash. In a message to King Tupou VI of Tonga, Queen Elizabeth said she was shocked by the devastation. “I am shocked and saddened by the impact of the volcanic...

Planes, ships head for devastated Tonga as aid operation ramps up

(Reuters) -The first aid flights reached Tonga on Thursday with more en route, five days after a devastating volcanic eruption and tsunami, as communities awaited a ship with equipment to scale up supplies of much-needed drinking water. A Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules carrying disaster relief supplies landed at the South Pacific island...

Western Australia state to stay shut as Omicron stalks the east

SYDNEY (Reuters) – The state of Western Australia has cancelled plans to reopen its borders on Feb. 5 citing health risks from a surge in Omicron cases elsewhere in the country, as the tally of coronavirus cases since the pandemic began topped 2 million. WA Premier Mark McGowan made the shock announcement late Thursday saying...

19th January

All homes on one of Tonga’s islands destroyed, three dead

SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, Jan 18 (Reuters) – All the homes on one of Tonga’s small outer islands have been destroyed by a massive volcanic eruption and tsunami, with three people so far confirmed dead, the government said on Tuesday in its first update since the disaster struck. With communications badly hampered by the severing of an undersea cable, information on...

18th January

Drinking water, ash big concern as Tonga damage after tsunami

SYDNEY/WELLINGTON (Reuters) -Australia and New Zealand sent surveillance flights on Monday to assess damage in Tonga, isolated from the rest of the world after the eruption of a volcano that triggered a tsunami and blanketed the Pacific island with ash. Australia’s Minister for the Pacific Zed Seselja said initial reports suggested no mass casualties from...

India’s Gennova working on Omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine – source

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s Gennova Biopharmaceuticals is working on an Omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine candidate that could be ready in a month or two, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. The source, who did not want to be named as the information was private, said the product might need a small...

Australia PM blames Omicron for testing woes as COVID-19 cases hit downward trend

SYDNEY (Reuters) -Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday the shortages of at-home antigen tests were “not unique” to the country as authorities deal with a runaway Omicron outbreak that has driven up hospitalisation rates and strains testing systems. Australia is facing a shortage of at-home rapid antigen test kits after asymptomatic close contacts...

17th January

Oil extends rally on supply tightness, Brent at more than 3-year high

TOKYO (Reuters) – Oil prices rose on Monday, with Brent crude futures at their highest in more than three years, as investors bet supply will remain tight amid restrained output by major producers with global demand unperturbed by the Omicron coronavirus variant. Brent crude futures gained 42 cents, or 0.5%, to $86.48 a barrel by...

Australia, New Zealand step up efforts to aid tsunami-hit Tonga

SYDNEY/WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Australia and New Zealand dispatched surveillance flights on Monday to assess the damage in Tonga, isolated from the rest of the world due to the eruption of an underwater volcano that triggered a tsunami and blanketed the Pacific island with ash. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison pledged to provide support for Tonga...

Shortage of COVID-19 testing kits ‘not unique’ to Australia, PM says

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday said the shortages of at-home antigen tests were “not unique” to the country as authorities deal with a runaway Omicron outbreak that has driven up hospitalisation rates and strain testing systems. Australia is facing a shortage of at-home rapid antigen test kits after asymptomatic close...

UK’s Prince Harry seeks right to pay for UK police protection

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Prince Harry is challenging a government decision that he should not receive police protection when on British soil even if he covers the cost himself, his legal representatives said. Harry, Queen Elizabeth’s grandson, and his American wife Meghan quit royal duties in 2020 to forge new careers in Los Angeles. Subsequently...

COVID-19 Fiji: ‘Positivity rate low among travellers’

The positivity rate among travellers remains low, says Health Ministry permanent secretary Dr James Fong. He said they continued to support international travel through the mitigation measures outlined in the present protocol for travel partner and non-travel partner countries. “We are exploring options to transition from hotel stay to homestay for our travellers from travel...

Two people drowned by abnormally high waves in Peru after Tonga volcano

LIMA (Reuters) – Two people drowned off a beach in northern Peru, the local civil defense authority reported on Sunday, after unusually high waves were recorded in several coastal areas following Saturday’s eruption of an underwater volcano in Tonga in the Pacific Ocean. The death of two people by drowning occurred on Saturday on a...

Concerns mount for Tonga after tsunami triggered by underwater volcano

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Pacific nations and humanitarian groups struggled to establish communications with Tonga on Sunday after a tsunami triggered by a massive volcanic eruption cut telephone and internet connections, raising concerns for the tiny island nation. An underwater volcano off Tonga erupted on Saturday, triggering tsunami warnings and evacuation orders on the shores of...

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addresses situation in Tonga following volcanic eruption, tsunami

There are no official reports of injuries or deaths in Tonga, as the Defence Force prepares to head to the islands, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says. Communication with the islands has been cut off since yesterday evening and members of the Tongan community in New Zealand are desperately awaiting news of their loved ones. Ardern...

Djokovic’s actions could weaken COVID-19 safety adherence – Australia govt lawyer

MELBOURNE (Reuters) -Lawyers argued over what impact Novak Djokovic would have on support for vaccination in Australia as the Federal Court was set to decide on Sunday whether or not the unvaccinated tennis superstar can stay and defend his Open title. Three Federal Court judges will decide the fate of the world number one tennis...

16th January

Global vaccine-sharing programme reaches milestone of 1 billion doses

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The COVAX global vaccine-sharing programme has delivered 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses, one of the organisations which manages it said on Saturday. Supplies to poorer nations have long been very limited because of lack of vaccines, as wealthier states secured most of the doses initially available from December 2020. But in the...

Hunga Tonga volcano: Fijians in Tonga flee for safety as waves crash ashore; ask for prayers

Remember us in your prayers. That’s the plea from former Fiji journalist Iliesa Tora who fled for safety with his family and others after the underwater Hunga-Tonga-Hunga- Ha’apai volcano eruption yesterday afternoon. Tora said they were terrified by what had transpired because it was the first time for them to experience such events. He said the rumbling...

Ash clouds prompt Fiji Link to put flights on hold

All Fiji Link flights have been put on hold due to ash clouds caused by the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption in Tonga. Fiji Airways states several flight operations will also be affected as customers travelling today can expect delays and extended flight times. Flights affected include FJ935 from Nadi to Melbourne, FJ921 Nadi to...

New Zealand Pm Ardern says Tonga eruption ‘hugely concerning’

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Sunday that images of volcanic eruption near Tonga were “hugely concerning” and agencies were still trying to establish full communications with the country. Communications in all of Tonga were cut off as a result of the eruption, making any assessment difficult, Ardern said. But...

Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami: No power, communications still down

There has been little contact with Tonga since an underwater volcano, Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai, erupted early yesterday evening. A tsunami hit the Kingdom after the volcano erupted for eight minutes, throwing clouds of ash into the sky. Waves flooded the capital, Nuku’alofa, where video footage has shown water engulfing buildings. Communications with Tonga has been down since...

Tonga volcano eruption triggers tsunami warnings in Japan, Pacific islands

(Reuters) -An underwater volcano off Tonga erupted on Saturday, triggering tsunami warnings and evacuation orders in Japan and causing large waves in several South Pacific islands, where footage on social media showed waves crashing into coastal homes. Japan’s meteorological agency issued tsunami warnings in the early hours on Sunday and said waves as high as...

EMA lists rare spinal condition as side effect of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot

(Reuters) – A safety panel of the European drug regulator on Friday recommended adding a rare spinal inflammation called transverse myelitis as a side effect of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine. The European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) safety committee also recommended a similar warning be included for Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine in October, and reiterated the decision...

Australia nears Omicron peak as daily infections hover around records

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia has likely neared the peak of its Omicron wave, authorities said on Saturday, but warned daily infections will linger near record levels for “the next few weeks” after more than 100,000 cases were reported for a fourth straight day. Having limited the spread of the coronavirus through tough restrictions earlier in...

Fiji PM recovering after urgent cardiovascular-related operation abroad

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama is “well on his way to recovery” after undertaking an urgent surgical procedure in Melbourne, Australia, on Friday morning. Following a surgical medical review this week, Mr Bainimarama was informed by his physician that he needed to undertake an urgent cardiovascular-related operation. Tonight, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sauyed-Khaiyum said the medical procedure...

15th January

Tsunami advisory issued for Tonga

The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a Tsunami Advisory after a magnitude 1.0 earthquake struck the Tonga group. The earthquake struck at 4.26pm, at a depth of approximately 21 miles, roughly 60km north of Tongatapu, in what is the same site as the ongoing volcanic activity in Tongan waters, the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai undersea...

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