World Newsletter

10 February 2020


The Australian city of Sydney has been hit by its heaviest rain in 30 years,
bringing flooding and travel chaos and forcing thousands from their homes.
The state weather agency said 391.6mm of rain had fallen in the past four
days, and warned of potentially life-threatening flash floods.
About 100,000 homes have also been left without power.
But the rains have also put out many of the bushfires which have torn
through New South Wales in recent months.
Among them is the Currowan fire which had burned for 74 days around the town
of Shoalhaven, destroying nearly 500,000 hectares and 312 homes.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has warned that fire-hit areas can be
particularly prone to flooding, and that fast-moving waters can carry large
amounts of debris.
There are still 31 fires burning in New South Wales, but none are considered
an immediate danger at present.
The massive rainfall has also replenished water supplies in the region,
which has been battling years of drought.
The Warragamba Dam, which supplies most of Sydney's water, is heading
towards being 70% full, says WaterNSW.
At the end of last week it was at only 42% after one of the driest years on


African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat told leaders of the
55-member bloc, which held its annual summit in Addis Ababa, that new crises
in Cameroon and Mozambique had joined lingering conflicts in Libya and South
The continent was hampered, said Mahamat, "by "terrorism, intercommunal
conflict and pre- and post-election crises."
He noted, however, progress in Central African Republic and Sudan, after its
civic uprising and reiterated the AU's intention to find "African solutions
to African problems."
Ramaphosa takes over AU chair
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa - taking over the AU chair from
Egyptian ruler Abdel Fattah el-Sissi - said he planned two summits in May
focused on conflict resolution and the other on African continent free
Full UN support for AU initiative
Visiting the summit, United Nations chief Antonio Guterres said silencing
the guns was about human rights and sustainable development, and the AU's
initiative had the UN's full support.
Reacting to AU complaints about being sidelined on Libya, Guterres spoke of
a "new framework of cooperation" to overcome AU vagaries over how to fund
its inclusion in peace keeping missions.
On Friday, the International Crisis Group think-tank had urged the AU to
finalize an agreement that would see the UN financing 75% of peacekeeping
missions, when endorsed by the UN Security Council.
Guterres said African peacekeeping contributions must be adequately and
predictably financed.


Storm Ciara battered the U.K. and northern Europe with hurricane-force winds
and heavy rains Sunday, halting flights and trains and producing heaving
seas that closed down ports. Soccer games, farmers' markets and cultural
events were canceled as authorities urged millions of people to stay
indoors, away from falling tree branches.
The storm, named by the U.K.'s Met Office weather agency, brought gales
across the country and delivered gusts of 97 miles per hour to the Isle of
White and 93 mph (150 kph) to the village of Aberdaron in northern Wales.
Propelled by the fierce winds, a British Airways plane was thought to have
made the fastest New York-to-London flight by a conventional airliner.
The Boeing 747-436 completed the 3,500-mile transatlantic journey in 4 hours
and 56 minutes, landing 102 minutes early and reaching a top speed of 825
mph (1,327 kph), according to flight tracking website Flightradar24. Two
Virgin Airlines flights also roared across the Atlantic, with all three
smashing the previous subsonic New York-to-London record of 5 hours and 13
minutes, Flightradar24 reported.
Storm surges ate away at beaches and pounded rock cliffs and cement docks.
The Met Office issued more than 250 flood warnings, and public safety
agencies urged people to avoid travel and the temptation to take selfies as
floodwaters rose. Residents in the town of Appleby-in-Westmorland in
northwest England battled to protect their homes amid severe flooding as the
River Eden burst its banks.
At least 10 rail companies in Britain sent out "do not travel" warnings,
while nearly 20 others told passengers to expect extensive delays. The
strong winds damaged electrical wires and littered train tracks with broken
tree limbs and other debris, including a family trampoline.
Huge crowds of stranded, frustrated travelers were seen at London's King's
Cross and Euston train stations. Train crews planned to work all night to
try to restore service, but Monday morning commutes were expected to be long
and chaotic.


Around 100 flights to and from Frankfurt airport, Germany's largest hub,
have been cancelled so far on Sunday due to storm Sabine, a spokeswoman for
airport operator Fraport said.
The number represents around 8% of the roughly 1,200 departures and arrivals
planned in Frankfurt for the day, the spokeswoman said, adding cancellations
would increase in the late afternoon when gale-force winds are expected to
arrive in the city.

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