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Australia charges woman with using needles to contaminate strawberries

by admin   |   Posted on Tuesday, 13 November 2018 10:43 AM

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

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Albayalde: Cocaine bricks hauled off PH waters may have been bound for Australia

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, 27 February 2019 08:20 PM

Cocaine bricks intercepted by police along the shores of Camarines Norte, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte and Quezon from February 10 to 18, 2019

QUEZON CITY, Philippines — Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Oscar Albayalde said on Wednesday that the cocaine bricks recovered off the waters of Mindanao and Luzon in the past two weeks may have been part of a drug shipment bound for Australia.

Albayalde said they are now coordinating with their Australian counterparts to determine the signature of the cocaine slabs in order to confirm if these were among those being used by drug dependents in Australia.

“I talked with my Australian counterpart earlier. Parang nanggaling ito sa Pacific Ocean, pero hindi ito delivery sa Pilipinas (It looks like it came somewhere from the Pacific Ocean and these are not for delivery in the Philippines),” Albayalde told media after his meeting with Australian Federal Police officials.

Both the Philippine and Australian authorities believe that the contraband which floated to the eastern seaboard are connected to the cocaine bricks that were recovered in Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea in September last year because of its similar markings.

“Sometime in 2018, ‘yung Australian Federal Police assisted a police [operation in] Solomon Islands, meron silang nakuha na the same nature, the same package na cocaine,” Albayalde said.

The PNP Chief said Australian authorities had reported about the operations they conducted in three drug trafficking incidents in the Pacific Ocean in 2018.

First was in June where two suspects were arrested in Melbourne for conspiring to import and ship 300 kilograms of cocaine from Peru through the Pacific.

The second incident occurred in September in Siassi Island in Papua New Guinea, which yielded the arrest of six Hong Kong nationals and one Montenegro national following a high speed chase. The group allegedly dumped some of the cocaine slabs they were carrying in their boat during the chase but authorities were unable to find it after the operation.

Authorities also seized in September around 500 kilograms of cocaine from a yacht from Solomon Islands bound for Australia.

“Ito ‘yung nakuhang ship noon. Maliit lang kaya there’s a possibility na ito ay mga nag-capsized. Itong nakuha kasi ay yate, saka ang mga ganitong klase, way back in September, may nakuha sa Solomon island na around 500kg of cocaine,” Albayalde said.

“Meron din silang narecover with the help of Australian Police na the same package,” he added.

Since February 10, more than 100 kilograms of cocaine have been recovered on the shorelines or waters off Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Dinagat Island, Quezon, Aurora, Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte.

The PNP is awaiting results of the laboratory examinations of the seized cocaine samples they sent to Australian authorities. – Robie de Guzman (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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Australian man dies after shark attack in popular tourist area

by admin   |   Posted on Wednesday, 7 November 2018 10:28 AM

 

Medical personnel pushing victim on a stretcher from a helicopter into a hospital in Mackay, Australia | REUTERS

A man died after he was attacked by a shark in waters off Australia’s tropical northeast coast on Monday (November 6), police said, the third attack in the popular tourist region in the last two months.

The 33-year-old Australian man was paddle boarding and then swimming off a chartered yacht in the Whitsunday Islands’ Cid Harbour when he was bitten by a shark at around 5:30 p.m. on Monday, police said. The man suffered severe injuries in his legs and arm, and was resuscitated before being transferred to Mackay Base Hospital, Queensland Police Inspector Steve O’Connell said.

O’Connell said the shark species involved in the incident had not yet been confirmed.

The attack follows two others in the same area in September, when a 12-year-old girl and a 46-year-old man suffered severe injuries from shark attacks while swimming on two consecutive days.

Australia ranked behind only the United States in the number of unprovoked shark encounters with humans in 2017, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File.

The Whitsunday Islands is a popular tourist site 900 km (560 miles) northwest of the state capital Brisbane. — Reuters

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Warehouse fire lights up Melbourne morning sky

by admin   |   Posted on Thursday, 30 August 2018 10:49 AM

 

Aerial shot of fireball from a Melbourne warehouse fire | REUTERS

A fire in an industrial warehouse lit up the Melbourne sky on Wednesday morning (August 30) with thick smoke billowing across the city skyline, forcing residents to seek shelter and schools to shut, according to Australian media.

Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) said the fire began around 5 am local time (1900 GMT), with more than 100 fire-fighters battling the blaze, according to the Nine Network. MFB Acting Deputy Chief Officer Ken Brown said that the warehouse contained acetone and oxyacetylene, which energized the fire.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that several schools in the proximity of the smoke were closed, while planes were diverted from the area.

The fire is expected to burn for several hours. — Reuters

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