Australia charges woman with using needles to contaminate strawberries

admin   •   November 13, 2018   •   2177

Strawberry punnets being labeled with safety seal | REUTERS

An Australian court on Monday (November 12) ordered a 50-year-old farm supervisor, charged in a strawberry needle contamination case that sparked a major food scare, to stay in custody until she next appears in court.

Australia’s strawberry industry, worth A$160 million ($116 million), was rocked in September after nearly 200 complaints were made of sewing needles found in strawberries and other fruits. Several major supermarkets withdrew the fruit as shoppers abandoned purchases, forcing some growers to dump their strawberries.

On Monday, police said they had charged the woman, identified as My Ut Trinh in court lists, with seven cases of contamination, the first charges laid in the case. Police said the woman was a former supervisor at a berry farm of one of the brands affected but did not say which one.

Trinh faces up to 10 years in jail if found guilty after Australia’s conservative government toughened sentencing in a bid to contain the crisis. — Reuters

More than 150 bushfires rage in eastern Australia amid weather caution

Robie de Guzman   •   November 14, 2019

A bushfire burns close to homes on Railway Parade in Woodford, New South Wales (NSW), Australia, 08 November 2019. Hot, windy conditions have seen bushfires burn out of control across parts of New South Wales, with 15 emergency warnings currently in effect in the state. EPA-EFE/DAN HIMBRECHTS

Sydney, Australia – More than 150 bushfires were still active in eastern Australia a day after “catastrophic” conditions were recorded and that threaten to be repeated Wednesday.

New South Wales’ Rural Fire Service said on Wednesday morning that 73 fires remained active in the state, out of which around half were uncontrolled.

“Yesterday was a day of exceptional fire danger. Sadly, it appears based on early reports, at least 50 homes have been damaged or destroyed in yesterday’s fires,” it said.

Authorities in the northeastern state of Queensland warned of the danger of fires escalating on Wednesday due to strong wind.

“It will make conditions really challenging for our firefighters on the ground,” said the Bureau of Meteorology’s Victoria Dodds, underlining the possibility of thunderstorms, dry ground and the absence of rain.

The state’s emergency department told EFE that around 80 fires burn in this region, without specifying the number of uncontrolled fires.

Queensland firefighters have ordered residents of towns such as Noosa North Shore, Woodgate, and Kinkuna, north of Brisbane, to leave the area because of the proximity of the fires.

Meanwhile, a helicopter fighting the blazes suffered a heavy landing on Wednesday afternoon in the town of Pechey, about 150 kilometers west of the city of Brisbane.

One patient was transported to a hospital in a stable condition, Queensland Ambulance service said on Twitter.

Three people have died and more than 100 have been injured by the fires, which have devoured some 300 buildings in eastern Australia, according to data provided by New South Wales’ Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons.

Authorities are investigating whether some of the fires, including those that burned yesterday on the periphery of Sydney, were deliberately lit.

In Sydney, Australia’s most populous city, emergency services on Tuesday sprayed fire retardant from aircraft, which has resulted in houses, roads, and cars being dyed red.

Actor Russell Crowe took to social media to share images of the partial damage to his house from the fire in the town of Nana Glen, some 600 kilometers (373 miles) north of Sydney.

According to the fire services, the surface area affected by the wildfires since mid-2019 has increased to 11,000 square kilometers — about the size of Jamaica.

The fire season in Australia varies by area and weather conditions although they are generally recorded in the southern summer (between the months of December to March).

In recent years, bushfires in Australia – this year battling a severe drought – have increased in intensity, with many experts linking it to the effects of climate change.

The worst fires in the Oceanic country in recent decades occurred in early February 2009 in the state of Victoria, leaving 173 people dead and 414 injured, as well as burning an area of 4,500 sq km. EFE-EPA

wat/sc/tw

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Gov’t of Australia warns its citizens against polio outbreak in PH

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2019

The Australian National flag is seen flaming on the paddock in Melbourne, Australia, 25 March 2010. EPA/DIEGO AZUBEL

MANILA, Philippines – The Australian government on Tuesday (September 24) issued a travel advisory to its citizens warning them against the health risks of polio virus.

Australians are also advised to make sure they get polio vaccine to keep protected from the disease.

“The Philippines Department of Health has reported a polio outbreak. Make sure you’re vaccinated against polio,” the Australian government said in its latest travel advisory posted on its official website, Smartraveller.

“We haven’t changed the level of our advice ‘exercise a high degree of caution’ in the Philippines. Higher levels apply in the southern parts of the country,” the advisory concluded.

Heavy winds fan Australian bushfires, threatening homes

UNTV News   •   September 9, 2019

Strong winds fanned bushfires in two Australian states on Monday (September 9), with flames out of control in some areas ravaging thousands of hectares of land, fire services officials said.

Bushfires have started earlier than normal in the states of Queensland and New South Wales, in the southern hemisphere spring, prompting fire service warnings for the summer, which runs from December through February.

As of Monday, five properties had been confirmed destroyed, with five damaged in New South Wales (NSW), while more than 200 homes were saved from the flames, the NSW Rural Fire Service said.

The Bureau of Meteorology warned of damaging winds, with peak gusts of about 90 kilometers an hour (56 mph), along the east coast of New South Wales for Monday.

The wind was expected to ease on Tuesday (September 10). (REUTERS)

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