Home' Greymouth Star : February 14th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
8 - Tuesday, February 14, 2017
pets are being left out to cook
conditions with at least five dying
and hundreds suffering severe heat
stress in the past fortnight, animal
welfare group RSPCA Australia
It said there were more than 80
reports of animals in distress at
the weekend alone as a heatwave
pushed temperatures in the State
into the high 30s and 40s.
A large dog died on Saturday
when its “organs boiled” after
being tied up to a clothesline with
no access to shade. The dog was
one of four confirmed heat-related
animal deaths in the State over
the weekend, including a bird that
perished in a hot car.
The RSPCA said it was likely
many more pets had died over
the past fortnight because it had
fielded more than 400 reports of
animals suffering heat distress.
“Often we don’t hear the results
of every case, but sadly we do think
there were other deaths,” RSPCA
Queensland spokesman Michael
Beatty said. “It ’s horrifying . . . these
last couple of weeks have been as
bad as we have ever seen it.”
Beatty said an alarming number
of dogs had been become tangled
on furniture after being tethered
in hot backyards, while dozens
of pets had been left inside hot
cars. Canines had also been left to
cook on steel utility vehicle trays
and horses had been wandering
around paddocks with rugs on
their backs, he said.
In some cases, people even sat
inside in the air-conditioning
while their dog was left outside
with no access to shade or water.
“Some people are simply not
listening,” he said. — AAP
Animals suffering as temperature soars in Queensland
Some 30 homes, 67 outbuildings and a
church have been destroyed by the devastating
bushfires that swept across New South Wales
at the weekend — and it is feared the list of
property losses could grow when authorities
inspect more burned areas.
A historic homestead on the $20 million
Tongy Station was among at least 23 homes
razed by the massive Sir Ivan fire in the central
west, with the small town of Uarbry losing at
least a dozen houses.
Another 51 outbuildings and a church were
also destroyed by the blaze near Dunedoo.
There were further losses at Pappinbarra near
Port Macquarie, Dondingalong near Kempsey
and Boggabri near Narrabri with at least seven
homes and 16 outbuildings destroyed in total.
Two firefighters lost their homes while
fighting to protect other people’s residences.
Another two were admitted to hospital.
One firefighter was to undergo surgery for
a severely lacerated hand while the second
was transferred to Sydney for specialist burns
treatment on his hands, arms and face.
But it could have been much worse.
NSW Rural Fire Ser vices commissioner
Shane Fitzsimmons last night expressed relief
no lives had been lost.
However, Uarbry had been rocked by the Sir
Ivan fire, he added.
“I would suggest most buildings in the
community of Uarbry are damaged and/or
destroyed,” he said.
Warrumbungle Mayor Peter Shinton said
he saw flattened homes, downed power poles
and electrical wires all “over the place” as he
inspected his shire, which includes D unedoo
and Uarbry, last evening.
“The roads are closed, these people want to go
back, but it’s too dangerous out there,” Shinton
More than 2500 firefighters fought more than
200 bush and grass fires over the weekend with
areas in the central west the worst hit.
About 60 fires were still burning, including 19
uncontained blazes, and a watch and act alert
remained in place for the Sir Ivan fire.
The fire, east of Dunedoo, has burned through
about 50,000ha and has an active fire edge of
200km, while the Kains Flat blaze near Mudgee
has destroyed 5000ha.
Cooler temperatures helped crews gain the
upper hand before an expected return of more
hot and dangerous conditions later this week.
“There’s a lot of very difficult, dangerous,
dirty work that ’s got to be undertaken over the
coming days,” Fitzsimmons said.
“It will be not just days but it will be weeks
before we declare them safe, contained and out.”
The Sir Ivan fire was so “extraordinarily
destructive” at its height on Sunday that it
created its own thunderstorm with lightning.
“ We were seeing huge numbers of ember
showers being dropped out of that fire,” he said.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian praised the
efforts of firefighters before warning: “ While
weather conditions have moderated today . . . we
will see a resurgence with dangerous conditions
later in the week.
“Our thoughts are for the many people who
have lost their homes, lost their stock, lost
their pets and who will return to some very
distressing conditions,” she said.
Insurance companies have begun sending
staff to fire-affected areas to help policyholders.
The Commonwealth Bank said it had activated
its emergency assistance package for affected
“It is too early to gauge the extent of insured
losses,” Insurance Council of Australia boss
Rob Whelan said last night. — AAP
Residents and local officials
have described a panicked and
chaotic scene on roads and
freeways during an evacuation
over the threat of a spillway
collapse at the United States’s
Emergency crews are
preparing loads of rock to
be dropped by helicopters to
seal the crumbling spillway
that threatens to inundate
communities along the Feather
River in Northern California.
Almost 200,000 people were
ordered yesterday to evacuate
from the area below the Lake
Oroville Dam, after authorities
said its emergency spillway
could give way.
Officials said the situation
seemed less dire overnight
but Sacramento television
station KCRA reported that
helicopters from around the
State were sent to drop chest-
high bags of rocks to close the
hole in the spillway.
Jodye Manley of Olivehurst
says she and her husband were
having dinner at her daughter’s
house in Sacramento when she
got word from a city councillor
friend that her area would
probably be evacuated.
She says the couple got
petrol and made a mad dash to
get their four dogs and three
cats. Manley said she and her
neighbours were completely
panicked and that the scene
“ was almost like a movie.”
She said the traffic-filled
return to Sacramento was
terrifying, with people thinking
the spillway would go at any
Javier Santiago, 42, fled with
his wife, two children and
several friends to the Oroville
Dam Visitors Centre in a
public park above the dam and
the danger zone.
With blankets, pillows and a
little food, Santiago said: “ We’re
going to sleep in the car.”
Overnight, officials said the
immediate danger had passed
with water no longer flowing
over the eroded spillway but
they cautioned the situation
The earthfill dam is just
upstream and east of Oroville, a
city of more than 16,000 people
north of the State capital of
At 230m high, the structure,
built between 1962 and 1968,
is the tallest US dam, exceeding
the Hoover Dam by more than
The dam operator is trying
to shore up the crumbling
emergency spillway with bags
of rock while bleeding off
excess water from a rain-
swollen lake to ease the threat
of inundating the communities
Some 188,000 residents in
the river valley below the Lake
Oroville Dam, 105km north of
Sacramento, were ordered from
their homes when one of two
damaged spillways appeared in
danger of imminent collapse
from severe erosion.
Officials also were concerned
about a large gouge 76m long,
52m wide and 12m deep
that opened up last week in
the dam’s main spillway — a
concrete-lined chute running
adjacent to the eroding hillside
spillway — after weeks of heavy
rain in a State that has endured
five years of drought. More
storms are expected this week.
“Once you have damage
to a structure like that it ’s
catastrophic,” acting Water
Resources director Bill Croyle
Water could be seen gushing
from the main concrete
spillway as dam operator for
the California Department of
Water Resources continued
controlled releases through into
channels that route the water
away from populated areas.
The aim is to lower the overall
water level in the reser voir by
16m — and prevent further
spill down the emergency
hillside channel — before more
rain arrives this week.
The dam’s hydro-electric
power release valves also have
been shut down due to damage
from the heavy rain.
— A AP-Reuters
Panic, chaos over dam spill threat
The damaged main spillway on the Lake Oroville Dam.
Most of Western Australia — an area
the size of western Europe — has been
declared a natural disaster area following
flooding that has killed at least one
The body of Charles Boyes was found
on Sunday after he drowned while trying
to drive his car on to a flooded road on
his property near Esperance in WA’s
south on Saturday evening.
is still missing after his car was
found abandoned under the flooded
Jerdacuttup Bridge west of Esperance
and a private helicopter pilot rescued 15
people in floodwaters in Ravensthorpe at
The flooding that has lashed the State
is the worst in 30 years in some areas and
is estimated to have caused hundreds of
millions of dollars in damage with roads,
bridges and farms affected.
Declaring the areas as natural disasters
would trigger commonwealth, State and
local government co-operation to repair
critical public infrastructure, Premier
Colin Barnett said.
“ It is quite an extraordinary event
to have one weather system basically
covering all of Western Australia,” he
said. “ The areas affected go from the
Kimberley in the far north, the Pilbara
particularly Karratha, the Wheathbelt,
Swan Valley and far south coast where
there is probably the most severe damage.
“ It is most of the State, an extraordinarily
large area. ” — AAP
Volunteers pray in front of bodies found in a crashed bus after an accident on a highway near
Shrimp-like creatures living in the
deepest parts of the oceans contain high
levels of man-made toxins, scientists say.
Tiny crustaceans, such as yellowish
Hirondellea gigas living in darkness
about 10,000m down in the Pacific
Ocean, are polluted by PCBs, used
in electric transformers or paints,
and PBDE chemicals used as flame
“ Pollutants were there in every single
sample, regardless of depth, regardless of
species,” Alan Jamieson, lead author of
a report in the journal Nature Ecology
and Evolution by a team mainly from the
University of Aberdeen, said.
Scientists were most shocked by the
high levels of poisons in what had
seemed a wilderness, he said. In one
sample, PCB levels were 50 times higher
than in crabs in one of China’s most
The high concentrations may be
because rubbish or the remains of
contaminated fish sink and build up even
on the remotest seabeds, providing food
for tiny scavengers.
The scientists caught creatures in the
Mariana Trench in the western Pacific
the deepest point on the seabed, at
11,033m down — and the Kermadec
Trench off New Zealand.
Their lander took samples of the sea
floor then released weights and floated
back to the surface.
In the 2001 Stockholm Convention,
governments agreed to outlaw a “dirty
dozen” of man-made persistent organic
pollutants (POPs) including PCBs,
linked to cancers and damage to
reproductive and immune systems in
humans and wildlife.
In 2009 PBDEs (polybrominated
diphenyl ethers) were added to the list,
which now comprises 26 chemicals.
“POPS are found everywhere,” Ana-
Maria Witt of the Secretariat of the POPs
convention in Geneva said. — Reuters
32 die in Taiwanese tour bus crash
At least 32 people were killed when a tour
bus crashed near Taipei last night, with
television footage showing the bus careening
toward a road barrier before flipping on its
Of 44 people on the bus, 30 were pronounced
dead at the scene and two died in hospital, the
fire department said, adding that 12 people
were still being treated in hospitals around
Taipei, the capital.
Many of the passengers were elderly,
although the age range was early 20s to late
60s, according to city authorities.
The trip had been arranged by the Tieh Lien
Hua Travel Agency, according to Taiwan’s
An official with the agency said the tourists
were “ likely” all from Taiwan, but that it was
still looking at passenger information.
“ We are making efforts to help with the
emergency response and will fully co-operate,”
Chou Chi-hung said.
It was unclear what caused the crash. Local
television showed a video of the bus shot from
behind flipping on to its side and skidding
toward the hillside after it hit a road barrier
when negotiating a highway interchange cur ve.
The crash is the latest accident involving tour
buses in Taiwan. Earlier this month, another
Taiwanese tour bus carrying Chinese tourists
crashed into a bridge in southern Taiwan,
injuring some passengers.
It followed a grisly murder-suicide last year in
which 24 Chinese tourists were killed after the
driver set their moving bus on fire. — Reuters
Avalanche kills four snowboarders
Four snowboarders have died in an avalanche
in the French Alps.
The victims, all reportedly French, were
walking in an off-piste area of the resort of
Tignes when they were hit by a massive wall
The victims were a 49-year-old instructor, a
48-year-old father, his 15-year-old son and a
Martrenchard said: “ We lament the four
deceased victims and we think there will be only
four. It was an avalanche of a huge scale.”
A rescue worker said the bodies of the victims
were retrieved early today. — PA
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