Australia Top Stories 

Pacific Dawn: Woman missing after fall from cruise ship

Australian authorities have called off a search for a Brisbane woman who fell overboard from a cruise ship in the Coral Sea. The 47-year-old fell from the Pacific Dawn about 16:00 local time (06:00 GMT) on Thursday, about 300km (186 miles) west of New Caledonia. The ship, bound for Brisbane, turned around immediately to search for the woman, operator P&O Cruises said. Australian maritime authorities decided to end the search on Friday morning. “The difficult decision to suspend the search was made only after expert advice that survival after this…

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Russia says Syrian ‘chemical attack’ was staged

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said a reported chemical attack in Syria was staged by foreign agents. The US and France say they have proof it took place and, alongside the UK, are considering military retaliation. Russia, which has military forces deployed in Syria in support of the government, has warned that US air strikes risk starting a war. The UN’s secretary general has said the Middle East is “in chaos” and the Cold War is “back with a vengeance”. Antonio Guterres was speaking to a special meeting of…

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Seven children among 12 killed in Saudi-led air strike in Yemen

HODEIDAH, YEMEN: An air strike by the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen killed 12 civilians including seven children in the coastal city of Hodeidah on Monday, medics and a witness said. Medics and a civilian who saw the wreckage said the air strike had destroyed a house in the al-Hali district, where displaced civilians from other provinces were settled. The 12 victims were all from the same family, they said. A spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition told Reuters: “We take this report very seriously and it will be fully investigated…

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Powerful 6.8 quake strikes Bolivia: USGS

WASHINGTON: A strong but deep earthquake measuring 6.8 struck in Bolivia on Monday but there were no reports of damage or injuries, the US Geological Survey said. The quake struck in the southeast of the country at a depth of 562 kilometers (348 miles), about 200 kilometers from Tarija, and near the border with Paraguay, the USGS said. Bolivia’s private San Calixto Observatory gave the quake’s strength at 6.6 magnitude and said it was felt in various regions of the country including La Paz, Cochabamba and Chuquisaca as well as…

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Civilian casualties in Afghan airstrike on madrassa

KUNDUZ: An Afghan airstrike on a religious school in a Taliban stronghold on Monday caused multiple casualties, including civilians, Afghan officials and witnesses said. Top Taliban commanders were gathered inside the madrassa where a graduation ceremony was under way for students at the time of the attack in the northeastern province of Kunduz, a security source told AFP. He said an unknown number of civilians were among the casualties that also included senior Taliban commanders who were “planning for the next spring operations”. “Several dead and at least 15 wounded”,…

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France strike: Rail misery as three-month action tests Macron

France’s rail network has been severely disrupted, as a wave of strikes against President Emmanuel Macron’s labour reforms gets under way. The start of the strike has been dubbed “Black Tuesday”, but the action will spread over three months, affecting two days in every five. Staff at state railway SNCF are leading the strike, but the energy and waste collection sectors are also affected. The unrest presents Mr Macron’s biggest challenge since his election last May. How is the strike taking hold? With the four main rail unions observing the…

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Expelled Russians arrive home as Moscow warns against travel to UK

MOSCOW, RUSSIA:  Russian diplomats expelled from the United States arrived in Moscow on Sunday, with post-Cold War tensions peaking in the wake of a nerve agent attack on a former spy in Britain. A deepening crisis in ties between Russia and the West has over the past weeks seen the biggest wave of tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions in recent memory. In further signs of tension, Russia warned its nationals on Saturday to think twice before travelling to Britain, where it said they could be singled out for harassment by local authorities.…

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UN peacekeepers attacked by C. Africa armed group

BANGUI:  UN peacekeepers on patrol in the Central African Republic exchanged fire with members of an armed group in a Muslim enclave of the capital Bangui, the United Nations said Sunday. The peacekeepers were fired at in the Muslim rebel bastion called PK5, home to several armed groups and they responded, said Herve Verhoosel, spokesperson for the UN peacekeeping mission known by its initials MINUSCA. The attack occurred Saturday evening and “clearly the target was the peacekeeping troops,” he added. The armed groups operating in the PK5 area have taken advantage…

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China hits back with tariffs on US imports worth $3bn

China has imposed tariffs of up to 25% on 128 US imports, including pork and wine, after US President Donald Trump raised duties on foreign steel and aluminium imports in March. The tariffs affecting some $3bn (£2.1bn) of imports kick in on Monday. Beijing said the move was to safeguard China’s interests and balance losses caused by new US tariffs. Mr Trump, however, has insisted that “trade wars are good”, and that it should be “easy” for the US to win one. The American authorities have already announced plans for…

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London murder rate overtakes New York’s

A spike in violent crime in London saw more murders committed in the city in February and March than there were in New York, figures show. So far in 2018, the Met Police has investigated 46 murders, compared with 50 in the US city. But, while New York’s murder rate decreased from the end of January, London’s rose markedly from that point. Ex-Met Police Ch Supt Leroy Logan says it is proof that “London’s violent traits have become a virus”. Statistics from the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the…

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