Thursday, February 24, 2011

ABC Radio Australia Asia Pacific News Update- Christchurch Earthquake

Collapse fears complicate Christchurch rescue

Rescue crews have been pulled out of parts of central Christchurch amid fears that one of the city's tallest buildings may be about to collapse in the wake of yesterday's terrifying earthquake.

Police and firefighters cleared a two-block exclusion zone around the Grand Chancellor Hotel in the city centre, forcing a halt to rescue work on some of the buildings worst hit in Tuesday's 6.3-magnitude quake.

Among the buildings where the search for survivors was suspended was the CTV building, where up to 50 people were believed to be trapped.

The building was smashed to pieces in yesterday's devastating 6.3-magnitude earthquake that claimed the lives of at least 75 people, including an Australian resident, with 300 people still missing.

Earlier today there were incorrect reports that 15 people had been rescued from the CTV building.

The national commander of the fire and rescue service, Mike Hall, says it is possible people are trapped in the building, but there has been no sign of life for eight hours.

Rescue crews are now concentrating their efforts on the Pyne Gould Guinness building and it is believed they are in contact with up to four people trapped inside.

A short time ago, a woman who was trapped in the building was pulled to safety. Her husband was there to greet her and says he is amazed she is alive.

Rescue teams spent last night sifting through the rubble in the desperate search for survivors and that task has intensified today with specialist teams from Australia now at the disaster zone and others from around the globe flying in.

Police say rescuers have had to amputate limbs to free survivors from collapsed buildings.

Aftershocks continue to fray the nerves of residents sheltering in welfare centres.

The city's water system and electricity grid are still nowhere close to functioning properly and it may continue that way for months.

New Zealand's prime minister, John Key, says time is of the essence and has declared a national emergency.

"In practice this enables the strongest possible focus of local, national and international resources working together to achieve the best possible response in the shortest timeframe," he said.

Mr Key says the national declaration gives civil defence authorities greater powers in the disaster zone.

"On behalf of New Zealand, we feel your pain as only a small nation can," Mr Key said at a press conference this morning.

"This devastating event marks the start of a long journey for your city. It will be a difficult journey but progress is certain ... Christchurch will rise again."

Australian help
Meanwhile, Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard says 300 Australian police will be sent to New Zealand in the wake of the deadly Christchurch earthquake.

She also announced Australia will donate $US5 million to the Red Cross Earthquake Appeal and that more help is on the way, including a 75-bed field hospital with six surgical, medical and support staff.

A 25-strong specialist medical team is also on its way to the stricken city.

Ms Gillard says the extra Australian police being deployed are expected to be there for around a fortnight.

"I can now confirm there are plans to send Australian police to New Zealand, including 50 Australian Federal Police officers," she said.

"Likely numbers in total are around 300, that is including the AFP officers."

Ms Gillard says the police will be there to relieve their New Zealand colleagues and will not be assisting in the rescue efforts.

"Those police officers will go to assist with community policing. They are not going for search and rescue purposes. The search and rescue is being undertaken by the specialist teams we have provided," she said.

"They will be there to provide assistance, backstopping relief to New Zealand police who obviously are very, very stretched at this particular time."

She said she had told New Zealand prime minister John Key "we will be there supporting New Zealand at every stage".

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


New Zealand Prime Minister John Key confirmed at least 65 people dead after a major earthquake threw the city of Christchurch into chaos.

As the South Island city strained to meet challenges from the disaster, Mr Key said the death toll may rise.

Thousands of shocked people wandered the rubble-strewn city, many searching for loved ones and trying to reach others trapped under masonry and brickwork.

Television showed bodies being pulled out of rubble strewn around the city centre, while other footage showed onlookers clinging to each other and others bleeding and limping.

Screams rang out across the southern New Zealand city's main square as parts of Christchurch Cathedral toppled to the ground.

Collapse"I was in the square right outside the cathedral - the whole front has fallen down and there were people running from there," said camera technician John Gurr. "There were people inside as well."

Other major developments are:

Second major quake to hit city in five months;

Extensive damage in city, power cuts;

City has run out of ambulances;

Buses were crushed by falling buildings;

5.6-magnitude aftershocks recorded;

A level-3 emergency has been declared;

Australians concerned for friends can contact the Foreign Affairs Department on 1300 555 135.

Police said the Christchurch central city was being evacuated. Two buses were crushed by falling buildings and a local youth hostel imploded.

Hospitals across the South Island are clearing patients to make room for the injured.

Christchurch Hospital is in operation and three triage centres have been set up in central city, Sydenham and Papanui.

The strongest tremor, which was measured at a magnitude of 6.3, struck at a shallow depth of just four kilometres, at 12.51pm local time.

There had been two smaller tremors in the morning, and in the hours that followed there were 12 aftershocks, measuring up to 5.9 in magnitude.

SecondIt is the second major quake to hit the city in six months.

Live television pictures show several collapsed multi-storey buildings, while several were on fire.

Among those badly damaged include the Provincial Chambers building, the Press newspaper office and part of the CTV building.

Rescue teams roamed the streets using sniffer dogs to locate survivors and bodies.

Australians concerned about the wellbeing of friends and relatives have been urged to first try to make contact with them directly.

Up to 30 people are believed to be trapped in the Pyne Gould building, where four storeys appeared pancaked on top of each other.

One woman was trapped on the top level of the building before being rescued by a crane.

Jeff McLay told TV NZ he was trapped with four other people when the floors of the multi-level Pyne Gould Guinness pancaked on each other.

About 200 people were working in the office block, although some may have left the building for lunch at the time the quake hit.

Mr McLay says the group sheltered in a space near a column which had compressed from three metres in height to about 1.5 metres.

"We were all thrown to the ground. When that happened, I thought, well, this is it," he said.

Rescues were under way in many other buildings.

People gathered in the middle of parks across the city, seeking safety from the danger of aftershocks and comfort in the company of others.

Roads across Christchurch are buckled and ground water is flowing across streets.

Civil defence and emergency management minister John Carter says authorities are working quickly to respond to the overwhelming need for help.

"Obviously we will give all the support that is needed. We will have all the agencies functioning," he said.

"We will be able to provide those from around the country to support and to fill those gaps, but immediately people need to make sure they are safe.

"They need to make sure their families are safe, that their neighbours - particularly elderly neighbours are safe."

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Government regain numbers, but for how long?

The government of Solomon Islands has in the last few days enjoying a position which it has been alcking in the last weeks, a majority support in numbers.

This occurred after the return of grasshopping MPs, Mark Kemakeza, Martin Sopaghe, James Tora, Stanley Sofu. The infamous four were joined this time by Lau/Mbaelelea MP Walter Folotalu.

With the numbers now back with the government, energy, time and resources should now be committed to fulfilling people's aspirations, and election promises. Since it gained power a few months ago, the CNRA government has been caught up in one controversy after another and for that reason has rarely had space to implement its policy intentions.

During the tussling for numbers, much has been put out in the public domain regarding the government's intentions by both the PM and some senior ministers. Now it is time to walk the talk and put money and resources where their mouth is.

For sure, despite the balance now back with the government, the PM would still be weary of the four MPs, who between them have made history in the number of political cross-overs at any one given political feud. They have broken the record which was set by Johnson Koli and Tora in the previous parliament. (What a shame! Breakem record lo good someting lelebet.... !!!)

Parliament will meet 28th March 2010 and between now and then anything can still happen. We may never know.

Only the politically immature MPs with no sound principles, who had made a mockery of themselves and their sworn oaths, as well as the integrity of the country's political system (or whatever is left of it) could determine that for us.(Sore wan stret!).

Monday, February 7, 2011

Extraordinary tactics to lure numbers and gain power

It started with the allegations by two Opposition Members of Parliament that the government has tried to scare them back to their side by the use of force and threats.

Just recently another extraordinary event occurred when former Minister of Police and National Security was forced into a dark tinted cab and was forcibly taken to the Honiara domestic airport to be airlifted to Western Province.

Solomon Star reported that Tora was lured into the cab by his relatives and inside the cab were government supporters who then drove Tora to the airport. The MP for Ulawa-Ugi's wife is from Western Province.

Fortunately for Tora, the Leader of Opposition, Steve Abana followed the vehicle and intercepted the attempted smuggling. 

It is not clear whether Steve Abana was with Tora during the incident or was reacting to reports before he drove to save Tora and the numbers for the Opposition. 

Prejudiced understands that during a similar political tussle in the last Parliament, Tora was also taken to Savo Island, along with former MP, Johnson Koli in order to stay out of the limelight and saved from possible bidding and lobbying from the other camp. 

Tora is one of the politicians in Solomon Islands who is known to be highly unstable and can switch sides several times depending in what is on offer and at stake.

In his recent move to the opposition from the government he was cited as saying that he was obliged to follow MP Bodo Dettke, who presumably masterminded their defection to switch, because he owed him (Bodo) a substantial amount of money.

Media conference cancelled because of near-brawl

Following the 're-resignation' of the two MPs, Mark Kemakeza and Martin Sophage from the government to the Opposition on Friday 4th January, a media conference was scheduled by the Opposition later that night to make a formal announcement. 

The media conference however was cancelled after supporters of the government and the Opposition almost got into a brawl outside of the Heritage Park Hotel where the Opposition group is camping.

SIBC reported that two government supporters went to the hotel and demanded to see Mark Kemakeza who was booked in one of the rooms in the hotel

The situation turned sour when Opposition supporters forced the two men to leave the hotel premises, prompting the hotel security to physically remove them from the hotel.

Despite the two MP's rejoining of the Opposition camp, the Government House is yet to receive their formal resignations.

[Perhaps, since they have been submitting one resignation after another over the last 14 days there is a high possibility that they may have forgotten to submit their resignations this time around as they might have muddled themselves with their previous resignations or that they might have run out of excuses to put in their resignation letters. Watch out for James Tora and/or Stanley Sofu for there is a high possibility that these two men will also make a move anytime soon]. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Latest twist in Solomon Political wrangling - numbers back with Opposition?

Unconfirmed reports from Honiara have said that in a latest twist of events the two MP's who were recently sworn in as government ministers are now back with the Opposition.

Best mates, Hon. Mark Kemakeza and Martin Sophage have been reported to have left the government yet again after previously zigzagging between the two political camps in the last few weeks. 

In his rejoining of the government last week Martin Sophage was cited as saying the he made his decision based on national interest- that is, a national budget has to be passed and his support for the government is vital to achieve that. 

On the other hand, Mark Kemakeza rejoined the government because he claimed he was misled by the Opposition. Whatever he was actually misled of remains a mystery and only him and the devil will ever know.  

The reasons for their latest move are still unknown but if the the reports are true, the Opposition would now have 26 members to 23 for the government. 

In such a circumstance when the Prime Minister is leading a minority government, despite the government's scheduled Budget sitting for March, the Prime Minister is obliged to advice Governor - General to recall Parliament. 

If the Prime Minister fails to do so then the Governor-General would have to intervene, using his reserved powers to recall Parliament to sit and test the confidence of the House on the Prime Minister.

Friday, February 4, 2011


[SIBC News, 4 January 2011] - Leader of opposition, Steve Abana, calls on the Press Secretary to Prime Minister, Alfred Sasako, to stop telling lies to the nation.

Mr Abana make the call today after Mr. Sasako told Radio New Zealand this week that MP for East Kwaio, Stanley Sofu, has been re- sworn in as Public Service Minister.

Mr Abana describes Mr Sasako's claim- as an outright lie intending to mislead and confuse the general public.

The leader of the opposition says he had witnessed Mr Sofu tendered his resignation letter to the Governor General on the twenty second of last month.

Mr Abana added that since then Mr Sofu has remain with the opposition group till now.

He says government has tried to lure him back into their fold but Mr Sofu refuses and pledges his commitment to remain as an opposition member.

The opposition leader says Mr Sofu's commitment for the opposition puts the number game locked at 24/ 24.

Mr Abana also reaffirmed that the opposition group is still intact, adding that all the members of the opposition are leaders with principles.

He further highlighted that if the opposition group comes into power, they will continue the work left undone by the Sikua led government.

But Mr Sasako late today said that Radio New Zealand International has misquoted him as he told them that the Public Service Minister, Mr Sofu, was expected to swear in.

Mr Sasako said that the term 'expected' in English language means there is an element of doubt.

He Sasako said what he told the radio was based on information he had received.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Police say MPs misled them over shooting incident

Solomon Islands police investigating a shooting incident which was alleged to have been politically motivated said that the MPs that were involved may have misled them. 

MP for East Honiara, Douglas Ete and MP for Northwest Guadalcanal Bodo Dettke have alleged that on the night of Saturday 29th January they were standing outside the ITA workshop opposite Burns Creek when a man was said to have fired a gun shot in the air.

The two MPs alleged that the unidentified man also swore at them before driving off in his vehicle. 

The incident, the MPs alleged, was politically motivated and was a scare tactic by the government to bring back the numbers to their side. 

Police investigators however found that the facts of the matter may have been totally different from what the two MPs have alleged. 

In a media statement police said that two men were not present at the shooting incident and that their information was grossly "incorrect and misleading."

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

How Cyclone Yasi compares around the world

Cyclone Yasi has been described as one of the biggest storms of the modern times because of its strength.

However,  most significant of the description is the scale and size of the storm itself.

To have an idea of how big it is, click here to view graphic illustrations of how enormous the storm is.

As you would see the size and scale of Yasi is gigantic. Even its eye is as big as a city.

New Zealand Elections set for 26 November 2011.

New Zealanders will go to the polls to elect their Members of Parliament on the 26th of November 2011.

The date was announced by Prime Minister John Key during a press conference earlier today.

When making the announcement Mr. Key said that the elections will be about building stronger growth, building greater value for money in public services, and building a safer New Zealand.

He also ruled out any chances of his National Party making any alliances with the Winston Peters-led New Zealand First Party.

New Zealand has a Mixed Member Proportion representation (MMP) system, where individual Members are voted through a simple first-past-the-post voting system and the proportion of party representation in parliament is decided through a proportional voting system through which List MPs are selected.

The life of Parliament in New Zealand is three years. The last general elections was held in 2008.

Cyclone Yasi: North Queensland – MFAT Media Update - Feb 2

Wednesday, 2 February 2011, 3:08 pm

Cyclone Yasi: North Queensland – MFAT Media Update 3 pm - 2 February 2011
Tropical cyclone Yasi has now been upgraded to a category 5 cyclone and it is projected to make landfall in Queensland the evening of Wednesday 2 February.
The Australian Met Service is forecasting extremely dangerous sea level rises and destructive to very destructive winds as Yasi approaches the Queensland coast and passes in-land.

For more infor and graphic illustrations, click here

Parole Board Chairman Quits

The Chairman of the Correctional Services Parole Board has quit just weeks into his appointment.

Speaking to the local media, the former Chairman, Mr. Philip Tegavota, said that he made decision after he received threats for his life and safety of his family.

"I cannot afford to live under threats for the next three years as chairman of the parole board," he said.

The Parole Board came under immense public pressure and criticism after they made a decision to release former militant and government Minister, Jimmy Lusibaea on license, effectively shortening the length of time of his imprisonment imposed on him by the courts. 

He also added that the former Minister of Police and National Security, James Tora, should not have left the government but should remain to tell Solomon Islanders the basis upon which the decision to release Jimmy Lusibaea was made. 

His statement clearly implies that political interference may have played a very big part in the decision reached by the Parole Board to release Mr. Lusibaea, despite the government's denial that political influence plays no part in the decision. 

The decision to release Mr. Lusibaea has also angered the Bar Association of Solomon Islands who said that the decision was an attack on the independence of the judiciary. 

Solo flooding in pictures- photos taken by Oloman Hiba and Lynz El [in Facebook]

Photos 1 & 2: Along the Eastern Roads of Honiara  

Above: Guadalcanal Plains: Flooded gardens

Bellow: Tenaru Catholic Seminary

Above: Flooded River, Mataniko River, Central Honiara

Heavy rain and flooding in Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands

Heavy rain in some areas of the Solomon Islands have resulted in flooding along the Guadalcanal Plains and around Honiara. 

Reports from the local media said that if the heavy downpour continues, some roads will be blocked, making it difficult for local farmers to reach Honiara with their local produces to be sold at the central market. 

Solomon Star reported that the situation has been getting worse as the water level of rivers starts to rise and invades roads and homes that displace people on low raised floor buildings and intercepting public roads from movement of vehicles and people. 

According to reports, many food gardens and homes have been destroyed and hundreds of people are affected. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Update from Solo

Douglas Ete has refuted claims by the Press Secretary to the PM, Mr. Alfred Sasako that he was seen in an ambulance which was used in an attempt to smuggle sick Temotu Pele and Government MP Martin Magga.

Speaking to local journalists, Mr. Ete accused the PM and his press secretary of lying to the people and the nation, an act which only questions their integrity and that of the CNRA government.

Meanwhile, former Minister and government defector Stanly Sofu has maintained that he is with the Opposition.

He denied all the allegations made about him in the media as he was on a constituency tour when the current political wrangling began and knew nothing about any of it.

The government earlier stated that Sofu is still a Minister as he has not resigned as Minister of Public Service.

Despite making this claim, the government went ahead and submitted documents to the Government House yesterday for Sofu to be sworn in as Minister, an event which would be deemed unnecessary if their claim that Sofu has not resigned is true.

In another news, former Guadalcanal Premier and MPA Stephen Panga has applauded the move by Martin Sopaghe to return to the government after his earlier move to the Opposition.

Mr. Panga told Solomon Star that Mr. Sophage's move is wise and clever, especially at this time of the year when the government is required to table and have a national budget passed.