Thousands to flee floods
Thousands of people were forced to abandon their homes yesterday as record flooding that has cut off thousands threatened to engulf areas devastated by wild weather last year. Police ordered the 3,800 residents of the town of St George, in northern Queensland state, to evacuate as rising floodwaters raced toward record heights, threatening to cut the one remaining exit road. “Residents of St George are required to evacuate by road before the Moonie Highway is cut by floodwaters, which is expected to occur sometime in the early part of Sunday evening,” police said in a mandatory evacuation order. The swollen Balonne River, flooding for the third time in less than two years, was expected to peak at 15m tomorrow night, far exceeding the previous record of 13.4m set in March 2010.
Chickens culled over bird flu
Health workers are to cull thousands of chickens following the discovery of the H5N1 strain of bird flu in the southeastern part of the Himalayan country, officials said yesterday. Bird flu has also been confirmed in the eastern hills of Panchathar district and the tea--producing area of Ilam, Directorate of Animal Health official Ram Krishna Khatiwada said, adding that surveillance of farms was to be stepped up and 4,000 chickens would be killed in the affected areas. The nation’s first reported outbreak of bird flu in poultry was in January 2009 in the eastern part of the country. The virus reached Kathmandu for the first time in December last year, with health workers culling hundreds of chickens and ducks. If it spreads to humans, bird flu can cause fever, coughing, sore throat, pneumonia, respiratory disease and sometimes death.
Airstrike kills rebel leader
Two security officials say a key Abu Sayyaf commander killed in a US-backed airstrike was planning terror attacks when he was slain. Abu Sayyaf commander Umbra Jumdail was killed on Thursday in a jungle hideout on Jolo Island. The officials say his death is a major blow to his al-Qaeda-linked group because he harbored Southeast Asian terrorist figures, who provide funds and bomb-making training. Military spokesman Colonel Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos said yesterday that top Southeast Asian terror suspect Zulkifli bin Hir from Malaysia and Singaporean militant Abdullah Ali were killed along with Jumdail and 12 other gunmen.
Military uses US drones
Pyongyang is developing unmanned attack aircraft using US target drones imported from the Middle East, a report said yesterday. They are based on MQM-107D Streaker target drones, which are used by the US army, and imported from a Middle East nation believed to be Syria, Yonhap news agency reported. It cited an anonymous Seoul military official, adding that Pyongyang would likely deploy them, once completed, near the tense maritime border with the South on the Yellow Sea. The US drone, which flies at 12,000m at a maximum speed of 920kph, is commonly used for testing missiles. The North has conducted several tests by mounting high explosives on the imported drones, but has not been able to produce a new weapon yet, the source was quoted by Yonhap as saying. The disputed sea border off the west coast was the scene of deadly naval clashes in 1999, 2002 and 2009. The North also shelled a frontier island in a November 2010 attack that left four South Koreans dead.