scare shuts 4,700 German farms
|BERLIN (AFP) - Germany shut down more than 4,700 farms
and related businesses after tests showed animal feed had
been contaminated by a cancer-causing chemical.
“4,709 farms and businesses are currently closed,” including
4,468 in the state of Lower Saxony, northwest Germany, the
agriculture ministry said in a statement.
The farms will be closed until they are found to be clear of
contamination by dioxin, a toxic chemical compound that can
cause cancer, and will not be allowed to make any
deliveries, the ministry added.
State officials banned deliveries to any businesses involved
in the production of the fodder at the centre of the scare,
said the agriculture ministry in Berlin.
“This strategy explains the high number of closures,” but
the bans should be progressively lifted in the coming days
once tests had been carried out, the ministry added.
Eight of Germany’s 16 states were affected by Thursday’s
Worst hit after Lower Saxony was the western state of North
Rhine/Westphalia where 152 farms were closed; 52 farms in
Schleswig-Holstein and 27 in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt.
It was in Lower Saxony that 2,500 tonnes of contaminated
fatty acids at the centre of the alert were delivered in
November and December, where they were used as animal
The firm Harles und Jentzsch in the northern state of
Schleswig-Holstein is alleged to have supplied up to 3,000
tonnes of contaminated fatty acids meant only for industrial
usage to around 25 animal feed makers.
Nine samples out of the 20 that were analysed showed dioxin
levels higher, or much higher than legal, the
Schleswig-Holstein ministry said earlier Thursday.
A spokesman at the agriculture ministry in Berlin defended
“The states are acting as they must in banning as a
precaution -- and this in the absence of concrete results
from analyses -- all products, including eggs and meat,
which had partially contaminated fodder as their origin,” he
Food safety was the “absolute priority”, he added.
The agriculture ministry has set up a hotline for worried
Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner meanwhile called for
tighter regulations at the European level to protect the
food chain in a phone conversation with European
Commissioner for Health John Dalli.
Businesses making fatty acids for fodder should not be able
to manufacture materials destined for industrial use on the
same site, she had told the commissioner.
The German government said earlier that up to 150,000 tonnes
of feed were feared to have been contaminated.
The dioxin scare had already resulted in a halt in
production at about 1,200 chicken, turkey and pig farms,
most of them in northern Germany.
There are around 375,000 farms in Germany.
A dioxin level that exceeded legal levels in eggs was found
in late December.
German authorities on Wednesday informed the EU’s executive
Commission and business partners that 136,000 eggs, or nine
tonnes of the product, from contaminated German farms had
been exported to the Netherlands.
The European Commission said Thursday the hunt for
potentially dioxin-tainted eggs had also turned to Britain.
But a statement from Britain’s Food Standards Agency (FSA)
said the tainted eggs were not thought to pose a threat.
“The mixing of the eggs will have diluted the levels of
dioxins and they are not thought to be a risk to health,”
said the agency.
Dioxin, a by-product of burning rubbish and industrial
activities, can cause miscarriages and other health problems
in humans, including cancer.
|US to slash defence
spending by $78bn
|WASHINGTON (AFP) - Citing “dire” fiscal pressures,
Defence Secretary Robert Gates proposed deeper cuts than
planned in US military programmes, scaling back ground
forces for the first time since the 1990s.
Gates, in a compromise with the White House, said the $78
billion in cuts and other measures would result in a slower
pace of growth in defense budgets over the next five years,
despite earlier plans to keep spending at a higher rate.
The proposed cuts will require reducing the size of the Army
and the Marine Corps in 2015-16, with the Army reducing its
force by 27,000 troops and the Marines by 15-20,000, he told
a news conference.
The US Army and Marines have not faced reductions since the
post-Cold War cuts in defense spending in the 1990s, and the
size of the ground force -- unlike the Air Force and Navy --
has expanded since the attacks of September 11, 2001.
The decision reflected the shifting political climate in
Washington, with the spotlight on the government’s deficit
overshadowing a long-running focus on national security
The Pentagon chief said he would have preferred to avoid
such cuts, “but this country’s dire fiscal situation and the
threat it poses to American influence and credibility around
the world will only get worse unless the US government gets
its finances in order”.
As a major portion of the US budget, “the Pentagon cannot
presume to exempt itself from the scrutiny and pressure
faced by the rest of our government” to scale back spending,
Some Republican leaders in Congress promptly criticized the
proposed budget as a threat to the military’s health, while
some budget hawks have argued for much deeper cuts in
Gates said the Pentagon needed to steer a middle course
without dramatic cuts, but insisted the bureaucracy had to
change the way it operated.
“This department simply cannot risk continuing down the same
path -- where our investment priorities, bureaucratic
habits, and lax attitudes towards costs are increasingly
divorced from the real threats of today, the growing perils
of tomorrow, and the nation’s grim financial outlook,” he
Despite talk of fiscal constraints, the vast American
defense budget still far exceeds other countries and comes
as European allies face drastic cutbacks to core military
Gates had hoped to avoid any cuts that directly affected the
fighting force but said the reductions in the Army and
Marine Corps will not come until 2015 -- when Washington
hopes Afghan forces will take over responsibility for their
The Army is currently at 569,000 troops, after a temporary
increase of an additional 22,000 troops, and the Marine
Corps has about 202,000 personnel.
The proposed defence budget for fiscal year 2012 will reach
$553 billion, growing at a modest rate of three percent, he
said. But future budgets will gradually be scaled back to
zero real growth in 2015 and 2016, Gates said.
Gates, mindful of a growing push to rein in the country’s
deficit and national debt, has for months signaled plans to
find tens of billions in savings in the defense budget with
the aim of preserving key military programmes.
|Jackson’s doctor draws
|LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Michael Jackson was already dead
well before paramedics got to him, and his personal doctor
said nothing about having given the star a powerful sedative
that killed him, medics said.
Murray is accused of involuntary manslaughter over the
icon’s shock death on June 25, 2009. Prosecutors say he
administered an overdose of the powerful sedative propofol
to help Jackson sleep, and then tried to cover it up.
On the third day of testimony, paramedic Martin Blount said
that when he arrived Jackson seemed to have been dead for at
least 20 minutes, despite Murray’s claim that he had stopped
breathing a minute before they were called.
“It seemed like he’d been down for a little while” as his
skin was cold and his eyes fixed and dilated, he told the
Los Angeles Superior Court, which began an expected two
weeks of pre-trial hearings.
His comments backed up testimony by fellow paramedic Richard
Senneff, who estimated that the 50-year-old had stopped
breathing from 20 minutes to an hour before the emergency
medics arrived, four minutes after a 911 call was made.
Blount said Murray, 57, initially denied having given
Jackson any medications, but said he saw the doctor holding
a needle, and three bottles of the anesthetic Lidocaine on
“He scooped them off the floor and put them into a black
bag,” Blount said, echoing testimony by Senneff Wednesday
that Murray asked him to dispose of an intravenous drip bag,
and cleared up other medical equipment himself.
He also said Jackson had a “condom catheter” attached -- a
procedure usually used on unconscious patients, such as
those undergoing surgery, to allow them to urinate while
At the start of the hearings, LA deputy district attorney
David Walgren said Murray gave Jackson propofol every night
for nearly two months to help him sleep, as he prepared for
a string of comeback concerts in London.
He listed a string of alleged failings by the doctor on the
day Jackson died, including delaying calling 911, not
telling paramedics about drugs he had given and not knowing
how to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Jackson was eventually taken to the Ronald Reagan UCLA
Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 2:26pm.
The new damning testimony was given by paramedics who rushed
to his LA mansion and hospital emergency room doctors, at
pre-trial hearings to decide whether personal physician
Conrad Murray should be tried for manslaughter.
Two doctors from the UCLA emergency room meanwhile testified
that Murray said nothing about having administered propofol
when he arrived with Jackson’s already cold body at the
|Vaccine against alcoholism on way
|SANTIAGO (AFP) - Chilean researchers said they were
developing a vaccine against alcoholism that could be tested
on humans starting next year and works by neutralising an
enzyme that metabolises alcohol.
The genetic therapy is based on aldehyde dehydrogenase, a
group of enzymes that metabolize alcohol and are thus
responsible for alcohol tolerance, said Juan Asenjo, who
heads a team of researchers at Chile’s Faculty of Sciences
and Mathematics and the private lab Recalcine.
About 20 percent of the Asian population lacks this enzyme
and thus experience “such a strong reaction that it
discourages consumption,” he added.
The vaccine would similarly increase unease, nausea and
tachycardia (accelerated heart beat).
“With the vaccine, the desire to consume alcohol will be
greatly reduced thanks to these reactions,” Asenjo told
Radio Cooperativa. Researchers have already successfully
tested the vaccine on rats who were dependent on alcohol,
and got them to halve their consumption.
“The idea is to have 90-95 percent reduction of consumption
for humans,” Asenjo said.
|Bath house bombed
|KANDAHAR (AFP) - A suicide bomber killed 17 people and
wounded another 21 in assassinating a police commander at a
public bath house in a southern Afghan town on the border
with Pakistan, the local government said.
A nine-year Taliban insurgency is concentrated in southern
Afghanistan, but suicide attacks targeting civilians in
public places are relatively rare.
“A suicide bomber blew up explosives strapped to his chest
at a public bath in Spin Boldak,” border police official
General Abdul Razaq said.
He put the death toll at 13, but the provincial government
spokesman later confirmed that at least 17 people had died
in the attack.
The Kandahar administration released a statement saying that
the bomber had been targeting a “police commander” named “Ramazan”,
who died in the attack, but did not immediately release any
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates this week ordered an extra
1,400 Marines to southern Afghanistan in what the Pentagon
said would put pressure on the Taliban in order to pre-empt
a traditional insurgent offensive in the spring.
Defence officials expressed hope that the extra troops would
bolster areas recently cleared between Kandahar city and
|Vietnam War ‘secret
army’ chief dies
|LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Former Laotian general Vang Pao, who
once commanded a CIA-backed “secret army” of Hmong
guerrillas during the Vietnam War, has died in a Californian
hospital. He was 81.
“He died today... the family was there,” said a spokeswoman
for the Clovis Community Medical Center, some 322km
southeast of San Francisco, adding that he had been at the
facility since December 26.
A general in the Royal Lao army and member of the Hmong
ethnic minority, Vang Pao ran an irregular army in the 1960s
and 70s, commanding thousands of fighters in the US-funded
covert war against Vietnamese and Lao communist forces.
He fled to the United States in 1975 after communists ousted
Laos’ royal rulers, and was credited with helping negotiate
the resettlement in America of tens of thousands of fellow
Charlie Waters, one of his closest friends, said Vang Pao
died after being admitted to hospital with pneumonia,
complicated by heart problems.
But he said the former general had been active until the
last for the local Hmong community, which numbers some
30,000 to 40,000 in California. Tens of thousands of Hmong
also live in the northern state of Minnesota.
“He’s been pushing for so many things for his people... up
until the day they put him in the hospital,” Waters said,
adding: “He was just tired. He was available for his people
around the clock.”
“He was a very loving person. He was like a father to his
people, his Hmong people (and) he’ll be remmebered as a
great general, a great warrior, a great Hmong soldier.”
Thousands of ethnic Hmong and others are expected to attend
his funeral, which is planned to be held in nearby Fresno,
according to Waters. For decades Vang Pao remained a revered
figure in the Hmong community. Many considered the fervent
anti-communist their leader in exile, and he was an active
defender of the minority, many of whose members, according
to human rights groups, are still persecuted and killed in
isolated Laos. But he was also a polarising figure, one who
controversially raised money from the Hmong community
through a secretive organisation that some critics believed
was being used to funnel money into support of a new
rebellion against Vientiane authorities.
In 2007 Vang Pao was arrested in California along with eight
others on conspiracy charges after authorities allegedly
“interrupted a plot to overthrow the government of Laos by
force and violence” according to the justice department. The
charges were dropped in 2009.
A teenage soldier against the Second World War Japanese
troops, he underwent French-run army officer training from
age 20 and later fought against communist rebels. In 1964 he
became the first Hmong to achieve the rank of general in the
Royal Lao army.
The US was then stepping up its undeclared war against Lao
and Vietnamese communist forces in the landlocked country,
training a proxy army and flying missions in unmarked
aircraft of the CIA-run Air America. From the mid-60s, Vang
Pao commanded the irregular army of Hmong, other Lao
fighters and Thai mercenaries from his mountain headquarters
in a campaign that some historians contend was part-financed
by the opium trade.
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Former
presidential candidate Ralph Nader said the body scans and
enhanced security pat-downs at US airports are eating away
at Americans’ freedoms and called the agency that conducts
them a “basketcase”.
“The TSA is a basketcase, collectively,” Nader said at the
first US conference on controversial new security measures
that are being rolled out at airports around the US.
These include X-ray scanners that produce a graphic image of
a person’s naked body, genitalia and all, and body searches
including a frisk of the private parts of travelers who
refuse to go through the scanners.
Some travellers have complained that the scanners are too
revealing, while others, including a pilot, have said they
felt violated after being frisked by a Transportation
Security Administration (TSA) agent.
Passengers and airline crewmembers have told stories about
being asked to remove prosthetic breasts or having their
urine-collection bag burst during a pat-down, and parents
have said their toddlers were invasively searched by TSA
The TSA security strategy was to have a knee-jerk reaction
to failed terror attacks, said Nader.
“You have the shoe bomber, we take off our shoes.
“You have the Christmas bomber headed for Detroit who
failed, so now we have these new scanner machines,” he said,
referring to a young Nigerian who tried unsuccessfully to
detonate explosives sewn into his underpants as his US-bound
flight was about to land on Christmas Day, 2009.
Next thing American travellers know, they will be subjected
to body cavity searches, he said.
“What’s happening is, we are incrementally losing our
freedoms,” Nader said.
That view was shared by most of the other speakers at the
conference, which was organised by the Electronic Privacy
Information Center and had the double-entendre name “The
Stripping of Freedom.”
“The TSA wants to use machines to see us naked before we get
on an airplane,” said Wes Benedict, head of the Libertarian
“But if you don’t want to be seen naked, you can get patted
down like a criminal and felt up instead,” he said, agreeing
with Nader that the new security measures “trample on our
rights and waste our money.”
Congressman Rush Holt said that making everyone go through
the scanners goes against a “central tenet of our society
and our government, that we do not regard people with
Michael Roberts, a US pilot who last year refused to be
patted down by the TSA, said the scanners were another
example of the government meddling in Americans’ private
He and James Babb, co-founder of a grassroots movement that
called for travellers to boycott body scans on the busiest
travel day of the year -- the day before Thanksgiving --
called for the TSA to be abolished and for travellers’
security to be put in the hands of the free market.
But amid the voices saying that the new security measures
were violating Americans’ constitutional right to privacy
and calling for the TSA’s heads, a lone voice came out with
a different reason for why the agency should change the way
it screens travellers.
Simply put, scanners don’t work, said international security
expert Edward Luttwak.
In a test conducted in Europe, German prison guards were
instructed to sneak explosives past three different
scanners, including the full-body X-ray machine currently
causing such a furore in the United States, Luttwak, a
senior associate at the Center for International and
Strategic Studies, said.
|Major ‘revelations’ on 2G scam likely
|NEW DELHI: The Indian government is expected to make
some major “revelations” on the 2G spectrum allocation
scandal soon, to bring the “truth before the people,”
Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said.
The announcement would cover the gamut of issues including
issuance of licences and allocation of spectrum during
2001-2009, he said, while releasing a new page on the Human
Resource Development Ministry website dedicated to
non-resident Indians and Persons of Indian Origin to mark
the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas that began on Friday.
His remarks came as a Delhi court on Friday held as
‘maintainable’ a private complaint filed by Janata Party
chief Subramanian Swamy seeking prosecution of former
Telecom Minister A Raja in the 2G spectrum case.
“I am of the opinion that complaint as such is
maintainable,” Special CBI Judge Pradeep Chaddah said.
Minister Sibal, however, said: “The revelations will tell
the people why the telecom policy was changed in 2001, what
the Tenth Plan document said, why revenue sharing was
allowed, the enormous losses to the government as a result
of this, and the extent of financial gains to people.”
The government had already taken corrective measures, which
would otherwise have taken several months through the
process of a Joint Parliamentary Committee. A CBI probe had
been ordered and notices sent to telecom companies, he
Taking on the BJP for insisting on a JPC probe, the Minister
said the demand was “absurd” and pointed out that the
government had given the party several alternatives to end
the impasse that resulted in the washout of the winter
session of Parliament. “We were ready for a special session
of Parliament, debate in the House to get a sense of the
members on the JPC, and even letting investigating agencies
work with the Public Accounts Committee. But they did not
budge. This is no way for a democracy to function,” he said.
“We have no choice but to go to the people and tell them the
truth. We must tell the people that the BJP is misleading
the people. Instead of ‘white lies’ there will be only
- The Hindu
|Two Britons detained
over job scam
|MANILA (AFP) - Two British men have been detained in the
Philippines and could face long jail sentences for allegedly
running a scam offering Filipinos non-existent jobs abroad,
legal officials said.
The two took 1.75 million pesos ($40,000) in fees from 12
Filipinos in exchange for getting them work in Britain but
failed to deliver, said Kenneth Dasal, legal officer of the
Manila suburb where they are being charged.
“They were caught by a police investigator posing as a
job-seeker in a ‘sting’ operation,” Dasal said.
Simon John Paice and Nicholas John Vickers are in detention
awaiting trial while a third British man is being sought for
his alleged involvement in the case, said Dasal.
The two Britons have been charged with “illegal recruitment
in large scale”, which has a maximum penalty of life in
jail, said Aida Lumugdang, an officer of the court handling
They were arrested early last month and charged in court on
December 21, Lumugdang said. However it was not stated how
old they are or when they entered the Philippines.
Illegal recruitment refers to cases where unauthorised
agencies lure Filipinos, supposedly to help them get jobs
abroad, only to cheat them or exploit them.
The issue is a sensitive one in this country, where about
nine million people have gone overseas to find better jobs
to support their families.
The British embassy in the Philippines said it was aware of
the case and was providing the two with consular assistance
but declined to give more details.
|Belgium mired in
|BRUSSELS (AFP) - Belgium’s political crisis deepened
when a mediator appointed by the court to end a political
crisis that has left Belgium without a government for 207
days threw in the towel.
Johan Vande Lanotte tendered his resignation to King Albert
II a day after powerful Flemish separatists said “Neen” --
No -- to his offer to return to the negotiating table to set
up a coalition government.
The failed bid, the latest in almost seven months of efforts
to bridge the gulf between the country’s Flemish and
French-speaking communities, leaves divided Belgium headed
into political and economic fog.
“You can take a horse to water but you can’t force it to
drink,” said Vande Lanotte. “There is not sufficient
willingness to negotiate.”
“One day, the political leaders will have to take this step
in the interests of the country’s prosperity,” he said.
King Albert II, who appointed the mediator following a June
13 general election that failed to produce an outright
winner, is to respond Monday.
While the same caretaker cabinet that skilfully presided the
European Union through six months of debt crises is keeping
the buses and trains running on time, fears are mounting of
looming economic strife.
With debt hovering just below the 100 percent mark of GDP,
ratings agencies and the nation’s central bank have warned
of a potential threat from financial markets if feuding
politicians fail to strike a deal any time soon.
The seven political parties -- four from Flanders, three
from Wallonia -- slated to form a coalition had been handed
a Wednesday deadline to accept or reject Vande Lanotte’s
proposal. His 60-page proposal to reform the state -- after
five institutional reforms in four decades -- aimed to
increase regional autonomy in line with demands from the
powerful independence-minded New Flemish Alliance (N-VA).
But the N-VA, which won the top score at the country’s
indecisive June elections, said it had “fundamental
remarks”, or objections, on the text.
French-speaking Socialist leader Elio Di Rupo, who won a
majority in Wallonia in the June poll, said “the situation
in unbearable ... we must stop going round in circles.”
“The spectacle we’re giving of ourselves is undignified and
irresponsible,” he said.
Di Rupo also said it might be time to open political crisis
talks to centre-right liberal parties on both sides of the
language divide. “If (the talks) must be broadened out, we
are open to that,” he said.
Belgium has been in political crisis on and off since 2007
as nationalist sentiment grows in Flanders.
The N-VA, which represents the once rurally-poor but now
wealthier 6.2 million Dutch speakers, complains of footing
the national bill for the 4.5 million francophones and wants
more devolution and more power over the public purse.
|India urges Pakistan to end onion
|NEW DELHI (AFP) - India urged Pakistan to allow onion
exports after its neighbour cut off trade in the vegetable
by land because of spiralling prices at home.
The cost of the humble onion, which provides the pungent
foundation for a thousand different curries and other dishes
on the subcontinent, has shot up in both countries, leaving
their governments grappling for solutions.
Onion prices have more than doubled in Pakistan as the
country has exported huge amounts to its neighbour which has
been suffering a shortage due to poor harvests. The problem
has been exacerbated in Pakistan by a worse-than-normal
harvest there, too.
In a bid to staunch soaring prices Islamabad this week
stopped exports to India by road and train earlier as
domestic consumers complained, the commerce ministry said.
The clampdown was aimed at discouraging ordinary traders
from trucking produce to India, where customs duties on
onions were eliminated last month and the prices are higher.
India has also banned exports.
Reacting to the move, Indian Foreign Minister S M Krishna
said New Delhi was attempting to reverse the Pakistani
“We are in touch with Pakistan and we are hopeful that we
will find a solution to this (ban) and which will ease the
problem,” Krishna said.
The ban will almost inevitably be seen by some in India as a
deliberate ploy to increase the hardship of consumers who
are battling a 20-percent rise in food prices over 12
Some vegetable traders in northern Indian said they had
stopped their exports to Pakistan as retaliation.
“We took this decision because when we needed vegetables
(onion), Pakistan has simply banned the export of essential
items,” Amritsar-based vegetable trader Anil Mehra told the
Press Trust of India.
The news agency quoted a customs official in India as saying
no trucks carrying vegetables had passed over the border.
Onion prices in India reached 80-85 Indian rupees
($1.75-$1.87) last month and are currently around 70 rupees
a kilo, way above the “normal” retail price of 20-25 rupees.
Prices in Islamabad, where food items are generally more
expensive than elsewhere, have risen from 40 Pakistani
rupees last month to up to 90 rupees a kilo ($0.47 to
“The exports triggered a shortage of onions in our domestic
market,” a Pakistani commerce ministry spokesman told AFP.
“I can confirm the restriction has been imposed on exports
of the commodity through the Wagah border,” he said, in
reference to the land crossing between nuclear-armed India
and Pakistan, who have fought three wars since 1947.
|Malaysia textbook sparks anger among
|KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Malaysia’s largest Indian party has
called for a textbook to be withdrawn from the curriculum
over a reference to the caste system, a report said
recently, in a case highlighting the country’s strained race
The Malay-language book
“Interlok”, is from this year to become compulsory reading
for high school students, but the Malaysian Indian Congress
(MIC) said it contained a chapter which was offensive to the
Written by a national laureate, the book covers the history
of integration of Malaysia’s three main races -- Malays,
Chinese and Indians -- from the 1900s until independence in
The Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) protested against a
chapter linking the community to the caste system, which it
said is outdated, and want the government to withdraw the
book or remove the passages touching on the system.
“This issue does not affect us anymore and we do not want to
be reminded of such things,” MIC president G. Palanivel
said, according to The Star newspaper recently.
“We are holding strong to our stance that the sensitive
portion touching on the Indian community should be removed
from the book,” he said.
The Education Ministry said it will hear complaints from
Indian leaders before making a decision on the fate of the
“We have not received the (complaint) letter. We will get
the professional views on this matter,” Deputy Education
Minister Wee Ka Siong said.
“Our intention is to make our people united and live
harmoniously,” he said.
|Shock as Australians return to
|ROCKHAMPTON (AFP) - Australians were greeted by scenes
of devastation as they picked through their flood-shattered
homes, with forecasts of more heavy rain threatening a
multi-million dollar clean-up.
More than 300 houses have been completely inundated by the
floods caused by the torrential rain which has lashed
Queensland for weeks, wiping out crops, slashing mine
production and forcing thousands from their homes.
The large town of Rockhampton moved into recovery mode as
the massive volume of water -- estimated to cover an area
the size of France and Germany combined -- moved towards the
sea, while residents of other communities returned home.
“It’s devastation,” said publican Shane Hickey as he
surveyed the impact of the one-metre high inundation of his
business in Condamine, west of Brisbane. Hickey, allowed
back into the town along with other evacuated residents
recently, said it looked like a cyclone had hit his
Condamine Bell Hotel.
“It’s just flattened everything, all the grass is mud, all
the plants have been torn out of the ground, the trees have
gone over and are just covered in silt and mud,” he told
Australian news agency AAP.
“All the fridges are gone, the freezers, washing machines,
all the laundry.
“It smells. You think to yourself the best way to fix this
up is to just bulldoze the lot and start again.”
Inland of Rockhampton in Emerald, which suffered 80 percent
floods, the clean-up was well underway with residents
removing rubbish and sorting out their homes.
But the waters are set to recede slowly from Rockhampton,
which is facing another dump of heavy rainfall over the
weekend, and residents are not expected to be able to return
to their homes for another week.