The death toll from Australia’s bushfires yesterday rose to 33 after police found a body in a home completely destroyed by fire in New South Wales south coast.
The body has not yet been formally identified but it is believed to be of the 59-year-old male occupant, state police said in a statement.
Australian officials yesterday were working to extricate the bodies of three US firefighters from a plane that crashed in remote bushland on Thursday, as the area’s “active” bushfire status complicated an investigation into the accident.
Officials said it was still too early to speculate on the cause of the crash of the C-130 Hercules tanker plane, killing its entire crew, just after it dumped a large load of retardant on a huge wildfire in a national park.
“We are very much into the evidence gathering phase of the investigation,” Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) Chief Commissioner Greg Hood told reporters. “We will not be speculating.”
However, “we have nothing to suggest there was a systemic fault” when asked whether other aircraft in use were safe,” he added.
Coulson Aviation, the Canadian firm that owned the plane and employed its crew, yesterday said that all three were former US military members with extensive flight experience: captain Ian McBeth, 44; first officer Paul Clyde Hudson, 42; and flight engineer Rick DeMorgan Jr., 43.
Firefighters in Australia held a minute’s silence and flags on official buildings in New South Wales (NSW) state, where the plane crashed, were flown at half-mast as a mark of respect on yesterday.
“We will forever be indebted to the enormous contribution and indeed the ultimate sacrifice that’s been paid as a result of these extraordinary individuals doing a remarkable job,” NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said at a farewell near Sydney airport for 32 US firefighters who were returning home after weeks on duty on Australia.
ATSB investigators yesterday had to be escorted to the 1km-long crash site by firefighters and police were still in the process of securing the area, Hood said.
Little of the plane was intact and potential hazards included aviation fuel and unexploded pressurized canisters, he added.
Hood said the ATSB expected to retrieve the plane’s black box cockpit voice recorder, use a drone to 3D map the site, analyze both air traffic control and the plane’s data and review the weather at the time of the crash.
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy
Japan’s government yesterday urged people to seek help if they were struggling to cope, following Sunday’s death of the popular actress and Miss Sherlock star Yuko Takeuchi, 40. News of her death shocked the nation and follows other recent cases of Japanese celebrities taking their lives, with figures showing a recent rise in suicides. Takeuchi was a household name in Japan and had given birth to her second child in January. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato did not mention a particular case, but said that some people were struggling to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There has been an uptick in the number
China on Thursday lashed out at the US at a high-level UN meeting over its criticism on the COVID-19 pandemic, with its envoy declaring, “Enough is enough.” Two days after US President Donald Trump used his annual address to the General Assembly to attack China’s record, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, also took an outraged tone — after which her Chinese counterpart showed palpable anger. “I must say, enough is enough. You have created enough troubles for the world already,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun (張軍) told a Security Council meeting on global governance attended through videoconference