‘Extreme fire’ warning given
Victoria State authorities yesterday warned about extreme fire weather, perhaps some of the worst since a 2009 inferno that killed 173 people. “These next four days promise to be amongst the most significant that we have faced in Victoria since Black Saturday,” acting state Premier Peter Ryan said. Tens of thousands of firefighters are on standby, and 1,290 brigades are in a “state of high preparedness,” he added, with the peak danger day expected on Friday. Forecasters say Victoria and South Australia state are likely to see “severe to extreme heat wave conditions” this week.
Flooding kills 22
Twenty-two people have been killed and nearly 200,000 evacuated as floods and landslides hit the eastern section of Mindanao Island that is still recovering from Typhoon Bopha in December 2012, officials said yesterday. Torrential rain struck the area in the past weekend weekend. “Major rivers overflowed, causing people to drown in areas still recovering” from the typhoon, civil defense operations officer Franz Irag said. “Many of the victims had not managed to rebuild and were staying in temporary shelters when they were hit by fresh flooding.”
Marcos jewelry ‘ill-gotten’
A jewelry collection owned by former first lady Imelda Marcos was “ill-gotten,” the anti-graft Sandiganbayan court ruled on Monday, potentially paving the way for an auction of millions of US dollars worth of seized treasures. The court decided that the Malacanang Collection, the smallest of three confiscated from the Marcos estate and worth about US$150,000, was rightfully owned by the government. The other two collections are already in government hands, but the ruling is significant because previous attempts to auction off the entire haul have been derailed by legal issues relating to the Malacanang pieces. An assessment made by Christie’s in 1991 put the value of three collections at up to US$8.5 million, though it is likely to be substantially higher now.
Dotcom organizing party
Indicted Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom says he is launching a political party to contest the general election this year. In an interview yesterday with The Associated Press, Dotcom said he is founding and funding the party, but will not be a candidate. Born Kim Schmitz in Germany, the 39-year-old is a resident, but not a citizen and cannot be a candidate by law. Dotcom says he will launch the party on Monday, the second anniversary of police storming his mansion and arresting him. Authorities also shut down Megaupload, the popular file-sharing site he founded.
Endangered plant stolen
A minuscule, nearly extinct water lily has been stolen from London’s Royal Botanic Gardens, officials said on Monday. The Metropolitan Police said the flower theft took place sometime on Thursday last week when a Nymphaea thermarum was pulled from a shallow pond in a glasshouse at the garden in Kew. Botanic Gardens horticulture director Richard Barley said the incident was a “blow to morale.” The lily — so rare that it does not have a common name — was discovered growing in southwest Rwanda by a German botanist in the 1980s. When the mud around the Rwandan spring where it was found dried up in 2008, the plant disappeared from the wild.
Journalist denied visa