New Year Tragedy: Thousands Trapped On Australian Beaches By Dangerous Bushfires
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.
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.”
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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Fake LASTMA Officer Jailed Two Years
The Lagos State Special Offences (Mobile) Court sitting at Bolade, Oshodi on Monday, 27 March, 2023 sentenced a fake Lagos State Traffic Management Authority Officer, Omotutu Bamidele, to a 2- year jail term for impersonating and extorting money from motorists across Lagos.
The convicted fake LASTMA officer was arraigned by LASTMA on a 2-count charge of impersonating as a public officer by claiming to be a staff of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (S.78 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2015)” and obtaining money by fraudulent trick (Sec. 323 of the Criminal Law, Lagos State) before the court.
The PUNCH reports that Bamidele was arrested a few days ago on Olu Holloway Road, around the Alfred Rewane area of Ikoyi by a LASTMA Monitoring/Surveillance team led by the Zonal Head, Ashafa Moyosore.
In a press statement released by the Director, Public Affairs and Enlightenment Department of LASTMA, Mr. Adebayo Taofiq said Magistrate Kehinde Ogundare sentenced Omotutu Bamidele to a 2-year jail term without any option of fine after he pleaded guilty to the 2- count charges levelled against him.
Magistrate Ogundare emphasized that the convict should serve the jail term without any option fine due to the gravity of the offences committed.
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The Court Prosecutor Barr. Olufemi Adekunle stated that both offences levied against the convict contravened Criminal Law of Lagos State (2015).
In his reaction to the judgement, the General Manager of LASTMA Mr Bolaji Oreagba said the judgement was a welcome development as it would serve as a deterrent to others who are still extorting money from innocent members of the public under false pretence.
Oreagba also noted that the “Our (LASTMA) Monitoring and Surveillance Unit which has now been fully restructured would continue to hunt for other bad elements disturbing the peace of the society”
Ahmed Musa Equals Zidane’s Record, Surpasses Viera, Lampard
Super Eagles captain, Ahmed Musa, has become the most capped Nigerian player after his appearance in the second leg of Nigeria’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Guinea-Bissau.
The Nigerian national team defeated the Djurtus of Guinea-Bissau 1-0 at the Estadio 24 de Setembro.
However, Musa, who made his Eagles debut in 2010, and was also part of the 2013 Nations Cup-winning side, earned 108 caps – setting a new record for Nigeria.
With his feat, he has equaled France’s midfielder Zinedine Zidane, German’s Jurgen Klinsmann, and England’s Tim Cahill’s 108 national caps.
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Also, the 30-year-old Super Eagles captain surpassed Patrick Vieira’s 107 international caps for France, and Frank Lampard’s 106 caps for the Three Lions of England.
Since his debut, the Nigerian forward has scored 16 goals for the national team. He is Nigeria’s highest scorer in the World Cup with four goals.
He also has 92 club goals and 65 assists.
NGO Trains Delta Community On Tools For Environmental Justice
The Connected Advocacy, a Benin-based NGO, on Monday trained the residents of Owa/Alidinma community in Agbor, Delta State, on strengthening local movement and demand spaces for environmental justice.
The training featured sessions on environmental monitoring, smart advocacy tools for environmental justice and how to build a non-violent environmental justice movement.
The Director of the NGO, Mr Israel Orekha, said the capacity building was aimed to enable local communities to advocate for and demand freedom from pollution, environmental degradation and exploitation.
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Orekha said the training was due to the impact of oil exploration in the community, which include crises, environmental degradation, diversion of monetary benefits, intimidation from the traditional rulers and non-compliance with environmental multilateral agreements, among others.
“The imperative of smart advocacy tools for environmental justice are evidence-based collective efforts or strategies targeting decision-makers and polluters.
“The training focuses on influencing the actions, programmes and policies of the International Oil Companies (IOCs) and governments toward environmentally friendly interventions, fulfilling the agreement for the protection of the earth, people and planets.”
Taking the participants on environmental monitoring tools, Cadmus Atake-Enade, said the devices were effective for mitigating the danger of fossil-fuel extraction in the local communities.
He encouraged participants to monitor their environment through air, water and soil pollution, and biodiversity issues.
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Atake-Enade listed tools for monitoring the physical environment like pens, pencils, cameras and whistles, saying the need to document the findings or monitor the evidence cannot be over-emphasised.
The training concluded with the reconciliation of the Traditional Community Council and Host Community Network operating in the community.
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