Archive for August, 2019

60 killed in India temple stampede

A stampede on a bridge outside a Hindu temple has killed at least 60 people in India and dozens more may have died after they leapt into the water below, police say.

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“Sixty people are confirmed killed and the figure could reach 100,” said local Deputy Police Inspector General D.K. Arya.

“More than 100 others have been injured” in the disaster in the Datia district of central Madhya Pradesh state, he added.

Arya said the stampede was triggered by rumours the bridge might collapse after being struck by a heavy vehicle around lunchtime.

“There were rumours that the bridge could collapse after the tractor hit it,” he said.

“Many people are feared to have fallen into the river and are unaccounted for.”

Other police sources said that some 20,000 people were on the bridge over the River Sindh when the stampede broke out.

Large crowds began converging on the site from early morning, according to witnesses.

Up to 400,000 devotees were already inside or around the temple in Datia district, which is around 350 kilometres north of the state capital Bhopal, when the stamped happened.

NDTV, an Indian television network, cited sources at the scene as saying the situation was exacerbated by police charging at the crowds with heavy wooden sticks known as lathis.

However Arya insisted “there was no baton-charge” by the police.

The Times of India reported that crowds could seen pelting police with stones as frustration grew over the rescue operation.

Efforts to reach the injured and ferry them to hospital were being hampered by the huge volume of traffic in the area.

A team of around 20 medics had however managed to reach the scene of the tragedy and the casualty wards of nearby hospitals were being emptied to cope with the influx of victims, the newspaper added on its website.

Hindus are celebrating the end of the Navaratri festival, dedicated to the worship of the Hindu goddess Durga, which draws millions of worshippers to temples especially in northern and central India.

India has a long history of deadly stampedes at religious festivals, with at 36 people trampled to death back in February as pilgrims headed home from the Kumbh Mela religious festival on the banks of the river Ganges.

Some 102 Hindu devotees were killed in a stampede in January 2011 in the state of Kerala while 224 pilgrims died in September 2008 as thousands of worshippers rushed to reach a 15th-century hill-top temple in Jodhpur.

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Ireland set to exit EU-IMF bailout

Ireland will become the first eurozone country to exit its bailout in December, Prime Minister Enda Kenny says.

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He warns, however, that there is still some way to go to full recovery.

Ireland was forced to turn to the European Union and the International Monetary Fund for an 85-billion-euro ($A121.96 billion) bailout in 2010 after its banks collapsed and its overheated property market went into meltdown.

Kenny told a conference of his Fine Gael party on Saturday there were “fragile times” ahead and a budget due on Tuesday would be tough, but that Ireland was ready to leave the bailout.

“Tonight I can confirm that Ireland is on track to exit the EU-IMF bailout on December 15. And we won’t go back,” he said.

“It won’t mean that our financial troubles are over. Yes, there are still fragile times ahead. There’s still a long way to go.

“But at last, the era of the bailout will be no more. The economic emergency will be over.”

Kenny admitted the budget would include another 2.5 billion euros in tax rises and spending cuts.

But he said it would leave Ireland running a 4.8 per cent deficit next year, and pledged that the government would publish a new economic plan for the medium term by the end of the year.

Ireland enjoyed double-digit economic growth for a decade from the mid-1990s, earning it the nickname of the Celtic Tiger, but it was hammered by the 2008 global financial crisis.

In return for the bailout, the government was forced to introduce stringent austerity measures.

But it has been described as a “poster boy” for bailed-out EU economies, exiting recession in the second quarter of this year with growth of 0.4 per cent thanks to solid expansion of its construction and export sectors.

If Ireland does leave the scheme in December, it will be the first of the four bailed-out eurozone countries to do so.

Financial packages have also been given to Cyprus, Greece and Portugal.

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Record crowds watch A-League openers

As the national team stumbled abroad, soccer in Australia took another giant leap with record crowds attending the A-League opening round.

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Adelaide United and Brisbane Roar banked season-opening victories on Sunday and helped the league create new attendance records.

Bolstered by massive crowds in Sydney, Melbourne and Gosford, some 100,998 people attended the opening round.

The figure surpasses the previous best for a regular-season round of 93,500, set in last season’s first round.

The record was set on Sunday as Adelaide beat Perth Glory 3-1 at Coopers Stadium in Adelaide, and Brisbane Roar notched a last-gasp 2-1 away win against Wellington Phoenix.

Adelaide and Brisbane joined Sydney FC as first-round winners.

The Sky Blues showed early signs of revival after a disappointing last season, notching an impressive 2-0 triumph against Newcastle Jets before a 20,103-strong Sydney crowd on Friday night.

Melbourne’s derby between the Victory and Heart was a scoreless draw watched by 45,202 spectators at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

The crowd was the second largest for a non-finals A-League match, the all-time record remains the 50,333 who watched Melbourne Victory play Sydney FC at the same venue in 2006/07.

In other results in the initial weekend of the new season, reigning champions Central Coast Mariners drew 1-1 with defending premiers Western Sydney Wanderers before 17,143 fans at Gosford on Saturday.

The first free-to-air coverage of an A-League match on Friday night also helped generate a new record for a TV audience for a game in the competition, with an average of 358,000 viewers watching Sydney FC’s clash with Newcastle on SBS and Fox Sports.

Head of the A-League Damien de Bohun said the first round lived up to the pre-season hype.

“Record crowds, record TV figures, a sell-out crowd, magnificent atmosphere and some fantastic football – the A-League is back with a bang,” de Bohun said in a statement.

“It was a fantastic start to the season and full credit to the players, coaches and fans, who all played their part in creating the first round of theatre. We had some big crowds, tight matches and tense derbies.”

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Strong winds expected amid NSW bushfires

Firefighters are bracing for a night of strong winds and thunderstorms, as a number of homes in NSW were destroyed by bushfires.

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The NSW Rural Fire Service has downgraded bushfires in Port Stephens in the state’s Hunter region to `watch and act’ levels, but warns a southerly change could spread the blaze.

“It can prove to be quite problematic because there’s going to be extremely strong wind gusts that come with it,” a spokesman told AAP on Sunday.

“When we get a shift from the wind and it turns south which we’re seeing tonight, the sides of the fires can then turn into the fronts of the fires.”

Five properties have reportedly been damaged or destroyed between Salt Ash and Tanilba Bay in Port Stephens.

“We don’t have solid confirmation of that yet,” the NSW RFS spokesman said.

“But obviously there’s been footage on the news tonight which clearly shows there have been properties destroyed.”

The fires across the state come as the Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the mid-north coast, the Hunter region and other parts of NSW.

The bureau is urging people in those areas to move their cars away from trees and stay indoors.

Conditions are easing on the Tangory Mountain fire ground, 15km east of Singleton but authorities warn the southerly change could make the situation worse.

Once the southerly change passes tonight, firefighters expect conditions to ease considerably. They’ll use the calmer conditions in the next two days to contain the remaining fires.

More than 100 firefighters are also working on controlling a large bushfire in the Webbs Creek area, near Wisemans Ferry, in the Hawkesbury region.

Meanwhile, 43 cars were destroyed near Sydney Olympic Park in Sydney’s west when a grass fire spread into a carpark near an aquatic centre, Fire and Rescue NSW Superintendent Ian Krimmer told AAP.

Around 1500 people were evacuated and three people were treated for smoke inhalation.

Authorities have declared the area safe but will continue to monitor it overnight.

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Labor to decide on deputy leader, frontbench

Mr Shorten defeated former deputy leader Anthony Albanese after a month-long campaign for the Labor leadership.

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The Labor caucus will today begin putting together a team to take on the Coalition government for the next three years, with Mr Shorten expected to allocate portfolios on Friday.

Bill Shorten says he has “things to learn” after winning federal Labor’s historic leadership ballot despite being backed by just 40 per cent of the party’s grassroots members.

While the new leader won the backing of his parliamentary colleagues, the party’s rank and file overwhelmingly backed his rival Anthony Albanese.

The membership tally was 60-40 per cent in favour of Mr Albanese, but Mr Shorten took the top job after caucus backed him by 55 votes to 31.

“This ballot shows that there are still things for me to learn,” Mr Shorten told reporters in Canberra.

“The party has spoken and what I undertake to do is to learn, is to listen but also to help the process of rebuilding Labor with good policies.”

The ballot marked the start of “the renewal of Labor” as an alternative government.

Despite the ballot numbers, the Right faction powerbroker said he knew of moderate members who voted both for and against him.

Mr Shorten played down his perceived lack of parliamentary experience, citing his battle as trade union leader against the Howard government’s WorkChoices industrial relations laws before he entered parliament in 2007.

“I do believe that Australians in the Labor movement contribute through a variety of ways, not just through parliament,” he said.

When quizzed about his role in the downfall of two Labor prime ministers in three years, Mr Shorten said people would see him as someone who would always work in the best interests of the nation before he considered his party.

He vowed not to be as “relentlessly negative” as Prime Minister Tony Abbott was in opposition.

Labor will meet on Monday to decide its shadow ministry and name a deputy opposition leader, likely to be Mr Shorten’s pick Tanya Plibersek.

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