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New Year Tragedy: Thousands Trapped On Australian Beaches By Dangerous Bushfires

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Thousands swarmed to beaches on Australia’s east coast on Tuesday to escape fierce wildfires bearing down on several seaside towns, as the government readied naval vessels and military helicopters to aid firefighting and evacuations.

Government officials called for Australian military support and assistance from U.S. and Canadian fire crews as authorities confirmed two people had died overnight, taking to 11 the total deaths in wildfires since the beginning of October.

The huge bushfires have destroyed more than 4 million hectares (10 million acres), with new blazes sparked into life almost daily by extremely hot and windy conditions in bushland left tinder dry after a three-year drought.

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Fueled by searing temperatures and high winds, more than 200 fires are now burning across the southeastern states of New South Wales and Victoria, threatening several towns and snapping their power, mobile and internet links.

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This is absolutely one of the worst fire seasons we’ve seen,” Shane Fitzsimmons, commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service, told a briefing in Sydney.

It’s going to be a very long, difficult dangerous night still ahead. It’s going to be another difficult day again tomorrow.”

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Authorities said the main firefront was moving up the coast and warned those in its path to seek shelter close to the beach.

About 4,000 people in the town of Mallacoota in Victoria headed to the waterfront after the main road was cut off. Those who could not make it there scrambled for shelter in a gymnasium and other public buildings, as emergency sirens wailed.

Some of those trapped in the town posted images of blood-red, smoke-filled skies on social media. One beachfront photograph showed people lying shoulder-to-shoulder on the sand, some wearing gas masks.

It looked “a lot like Armageddon,” said David Jeffrey, the owner of the Wave Oasis guesthouse, adding, “It’s terrifying.”

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Fisherman Steve Casement said he had lost his house in Mallacoota to the fires. “We are stuck here now,” he told Reuters by telephone. “Everyone is pretty shocked at the moment, most of my mates are in the same position.

Right now, I am on a trailer watching the town burn down, listening to gas bottles explode at some poor bugger’s home and seeing smoke all around me.”

Authorities said that by late afternoon the worst danger had passed.

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Source: Reuters

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Flooding: INEC Boss, Yakubu Inspects Damaged Facilities In Edo, Promises Replacement

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The Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu on Thursday said the damaged facilities in the Edo office would be replaced before the Sept. 21 governorship election.

Yakubu said this during an on-the-spot-assessment of the level of damage done to its facilities by the flood disaster occasioned by torrential rain in Benin on May 24.

The flood disaster destroyed some voter enrollment machines already configured for the Continuous Voter Registration exercise.

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Speaking after the inspection of the facilities, Yakubu said he was in Benin to assess the level of damage with a view to immediately proffering solutions to whatever problems that has arose from the disaster.

READ ALSO: INEC Promises Credible Election In Edo, Despite Destruction Of Critical Infrastructure

He said the flood disaster would not hinder the smooth conduct of the governorship election in the state, adding that the commission would do an assessment of what was damaged and respond appropriately.

He expressed joy that no life was lost to the flood.

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“This is not a regular visit. We are here to see what happened to our facilities after the flooding that occurred on Friday, May 24.

“I came here with the Director of ICT because some machines were destroyed and I also came with the federal controller of works because he would be helping us to address the flooding problems in and around the INEC office in Benin.

“Providing working equipment and ensuring a conducive work environment is as crucial as paying salaries.

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“So we will ensure that we fix the damaged facilities before the election,” he said.

The INEC chairman also disclosed that the CVR exercise would continue in spite of the damage caused by the flood disaster.

He, however, described the turnout of registrants as impressive, stressing that the damaged facilities poses no threat to the ongoing CVR and election.

“We took proactive measure to ensure that the CVR was not affected by calling for additional resources from neighboring states since INEC was one national body.”

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According to him, the present Commission has enough experience in conducting governorship election and this is the third governorship election we will be conducting in Edo since 2016.

Earlier, the State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr Anugbum Onuoha thanked the Chairman for being proactive in responding to the disaster.

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JUST IN: Sanusi Makes First Appointment Amid Emirship Tussle

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As the controversy trailing Kano Emirate tussle continues, the 16th Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II has on Thursday made his first appointment.

This was coming barely a week after he was reinstalled as the Emir.

Sanusi, the former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, approved the appointment of a new Ward Head of Kofar Mazugal, Hamisu Sani in Dala Local Government area of the state.

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The Emir called on the new ward Head to ensure peaceful coexistence among the subjects of the area and contribute his quota towards the development of the state as a whole.

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Earlier, district heads and personalities such as delegations from religious and market bodies paid homage on Emir Sanusi at the palace.

The delegation includes, Ansarulddeen Tijjanniya sect and Traders from Kano popular textile market (Kantin Kwari) as well as the commodities market (Singer market) among others.

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Recall that Sanusi II was reinstalled as the Emir of Kano last Thursday after the Kano State House of Assembly and Governor Abba Yusuf repealed and accented the Kano State Emirates Councils (Repeal) Bill 2024 into law.

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INEC Promises Credible Election In Edo, Despite Destruction Of Critical Infrastructure

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The Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu on Thursday said the Commission would conduct a credible governorship election in Edo State in spite of last Friday’s heavy downpour that destroyed critical infrastructure in the commission’s headquarters in Benin City.

He said since the Edo governorship election is an off-cycle election, the Commission would also borrow equipment from neighbouring states to ensure a hitch-free exercise.

Yakubu stated this in Benin City while on inspection of the level of damage to the facilities in the office in Benin City, and also to monitor the level of compliance with the on-going Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) and collection of Permanent Voters Cards (PVC).

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The INEC boss said he also came with three National Directors in charge of critical areas of the Commission like Voters Registry, Estate, Works and Transport and ICT to assess the level of damage to their facilities and the State Controller of the Federal Ministry of Works which would carry out needed construction work in the facilities.

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He also ruled out moving out of the place because of the perennial flooding in the area.

The INEC chairman who said the Commission was prepared for the election in Edo State, added: “Our visit here is to ensure that we fix whatever we need to fix because of the election. We have three months and three weeks to the election, and that is why we came here to inspect what happened to our facility on Friday last week.

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“We believe, we can fix whatever is damaged before the election, and it is better actually that we conduct the election in our own facilities rather than going to rent any facility outside close to election.

“Before the last governorship election in Edo, we took measures and for three years since the last governorship election, we have had no issues but this is an act of God.”

On whether he can quantify the cost of damage in the facility, Yakubu said: “It is very difficult to quantify now, we are on the assessment, and that is why in this tour we have been joined by three critical Directors responsible for Voters Registry, our Estate, Works and Transport at the headquarters, and our Director of ICT so they will stay behind, do the assessment and advise the Commission.”

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He assured that despite the setbacks, the Commission was ready for the election.

He said: “Let me use this opportunity to assure and reassure Edo voters that it is unfortunate that this thing happened in our office on Friday.

We took a proactive measure to ensure that the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) was not affected by calling for additional resources from the neighbouring states and whatever it takes, since INEC is one national body, and we are only going to have two elections in Edo and Ondo states, I will call for additional resources where it is necessary from neighbouring states and the elections will proceed as scheduled and we will recover from this unfortunate incident.”

Whether the ten days for the CVR would be extended as being agitated in some quarters, Professor Yakubu said: “We have not reached there yet, we will go round and see what happened.

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We are encouraged by the turnout not only of fresh registrants, that is persons who are registered voters or who are not of age when the last registration exercise was done

Earlier, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr Anugbum Onuoha said the flood could be termed a blessing in disguise as it has better prepared them for the election.

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