World Erupting Indonesian volcano spews ash, lava•Mount Karangetang on Sulawesi island also erupted this week with more than a hundred nearby residents ordered to evacuate (AFP Photo/UNGKE PEPOTOH) Indonesia’s Mount Merapi, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, has spewed a plume of grey ash into the sky as fiery red molten lava streamed down from its crater.Authorities did not raise the rumbling volcano’s alert status after the eruption on Thursday evening.But any activity at Merapi raises concern and local residents have previously been ordered to stay outside a five-kilometre (three-mile) no-go zone around the crater near Indonesia’s cultural capital Yogyakarta.Its last major eruption in 2010 killed more than 300 people and forced some 280,000 others to evacuate.It was Merapi’s most powerful eruption since 1930, which killed some 1,300 people, while another explosion in 1994 took about 60 lives.Across the Southeast Asian archipelago, Mount Karangetang on Sulawesi island also erupted this week with more than a hundred nearby residents ordered to evacuate from the remote site.Indonesia has more than 17,000 islands and islets — and nearly 130 active volcanoes.It sits on the Pacific „Ring of Fire”, a vast zone of geological instability where the collision of tectonic plates causes frequent quakes and major volcanic activity
Heavy rains have flooded swathes of Queensland state, with the full scale of the devastation on drought-hit cattle stations becoming clearer as floodwaters recede
Townsville (Australia) (AFP) – Hundreds of thousands of cattle weakened from a severe drought are feared to have died in record-breaking floods in northeastern Australia, authorities said Friday, as they stepped up efforts to feed surviving livestock.
Incessant rains over an almost two-week period have flooded swathes of Queensland state, with the full scale of the devastation on drought-hit cattle stations becoming clearer as floodwaters recede.
„We are expecting hundreds of thousands in terms of stock losses,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Sydney.
„This will be heartbreaking to these communities that have been experiencing years of drought, only to see that turn into a torrential inundation which threatens now their very livelihoods in the complete other direction.”
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk Friday spoke of seeing a „sea of dead cattle” when she toured one region on Thursday.
„To see the cattle spread across these yards, not moving, it made you feel sick in the stomach,” she told national broadcaster ABC.
Bales of hay and fuel have been transported into towns near the disaster zones and are being distributed to farmers so they can carry out airdrops to their stock.
Farmer Rachael Anderson and her husband, who manage Eddington cattle station near Julia Creek township, said 800 of their 1500 cattle were still unaccounted for.
„The cattle didn’t have anywhere else to go… We’ve got a railway line close to us and the whole railway line is just tangled with dead cattle,” Anderson told AFP.
„If the floodwater wasn’t enough to kill them, then those that got to higher areas were exposed to elements that were not conducive like rain hitting them at 60 kilometres an hour. They can’t survive them long term.”
Anderson — who had been hand-feeding cattle over the past few months amid the crippling drought — said there were also many dead kangaroos as well as birds that were falling dead on the ground.
About half of Australia’s 25-million strong cattle herd is bred in Queensland state, and graziers say the floods — described as a once-a-century event — could devastate their industry.
„This will finish a lot of people, there’s some people who’ve lost everything, every beast they own, so there’s no income at all,” farmer William McMillan told the ABC.
Australia’s tropical north typically experiences heavy rains during the monsoon season, but the recent downpours have seen some areas get a year’s worth of rainfall in just a week.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Netherlands is in diplomatic discussions with Russia about the European country’s assertion that Moscow bears legal responsibility for its role in the 2014 downing of a passenger jet over Ukraine, the Dutch foreign minister said Thursday.
Foreign Minister Stef Blok said the initial diplomatic contacts were aimed at paving the way for formal talks and conducted in „a positive atmosphere.” He said it was too early to say where and when formal talks might take place.
„There are diplomatic contacts to see if we can begin formal talks about national responsibility for shooting down MH17,” Blok told Dutch reporters.
The Netherlands and Australia said last year they held Russia legally responsible for providing the missile that brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over conflict-ravaged eastern Ukraine. All 298 passengers and crew members were killed.
About two-thirds of the people killed when a Buk missile fired from territory held by pro-Russian rebels slammed into the Boeing 777 were Dutch. The Netherlands has been one of the main driving forces behind seeking accountability for the attack.
Silene Fredriksz-Hoogzand, whose son Bryce was on board the scheduled flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with his girlfriend, tweeted in response to Blok’s update: „It’s about time … 5 years on.”
International investigators last year said they had strong evidence the Buk missile system that shot down the airplane came from a Russia-based military unit.
Russia has denied involvement and dismissed the findings from the international criminal probe because it was not invited to be part of the investigation team.
If Russia were ultimately to acknowledge some form of legal responsibility, it could lead to compensation claims from relatives of the people killed.
When the Netherlands and Australia last year said they were holding Russia responsible, they quickly got backing from the United States, Britain and other allies.
„It is time for Russia to acknowledge its role in the shooting down of MH17 and to cease its callous disinformation campaign,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement at the time.