Honolulu high-rise fire kills 3, injures 5

Three people have died and at least five others suffered injuries and were taken to the hospital after a fire consumed three floors of a 36-story condominium tower in Honolulu, city officials say.

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The fire at the Marco Polo high-rise building was brought under control at about 6.30pm (local time) on Friday, four hours after it broke out, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said during a news conference.

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“We have a very tragic situation with three confirmed fatalities,” Caldwell said.

“The good news is that the fire is now under control.”

For hours, thick black smoke poured from the building as orange flames raged on several floors and debris fell from windows in images broadcast by bystanders on the Periscope streaming service.

More than 100 firefighters battled the blaze, spraying water on flames from nearby balconies as a helicopter circled above, images posted online showed.

Smoke billows from the upper floors of the Marco Polo apartment complex, Friday, July 14, 2017, in Honolulu. aap

The fire began on the 26th floor of the building at about 2.15pm and quickly spread to the two floors above, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser newspaper said.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known.

As many as three people died on the 26th floor, Fire Chief Manuel Neves told a news conference at the scene. He did not provide details of the deaths.

“We don’t have any information for us to believe that there are problems with the structure,” Neves said.

Neves said fire officials were conducting a room-by-room search, a task that could take several hours.

Emergency responders said they took at least five people to the hospital with injuries. A number of other people were treated at the scene and refused to be taken to the hospital, fire officials said.

Evacuees from the building were being accommodated at a nearby park, with volunteers tending them, the Hawaii Red Cross said on social network Twitter.

The fire forced the closure of a major road in front of the condominium complex, the Honolulu police department said on Twitter.

The Marco Polo building does not have a sprinkler system, Neves said. The building was constructed in 1971, before the city began requiring sprinkler systems and mandating them for high-rises built after 1974, the Star-Advertiser newspaper said.

City officials told the newspaper that if the building had a sprinkler system, the fire would have been contained to the original unit.

In London, at least 80 people were killed when a fire gutted the 24-story Grenfell Tower apartments on June 14.

Authorities have opened two major investigations into the blaze, the worst in the British capital since World War Two, and have said criminal charges could be forthcoming.

Macron and Trump in marathon handshake duel

The unexpected bromance between the leaders of America and France was on full display for the world on Friday at the annual Bastille Day military parade and celebration in Paris.

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This year the event coincided with the 100th anniversary of the US entry into World War I.

0:00 US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanual Macron exchange marathon handshake in Paris. Share US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanual Macron exchange marathon handshake in Paris.

Trump spent a large portion of his day and a half in the French capital in the embrace of Macron, who went to extraordinary lengths to impress the US president by turning a day of national pride into a celebration of American patriotism and friendship between the two countries.

French President Emmanuel Macron shakes hands with US President Donald Trump after the Bastille Day military parade in Paris AAP

Trump and Macron exchanged many handshakes during the course of Trump’s first visit to France as president, perhaps none more telling than the one they shared after the parade.

As Trump prepared to head home to the US, the leaders clasped hands and held on to each other as they walked. Trump at one point pulled the smaller Macron off balance and held fast as they approached their wives.

Even then, Trump held on to Macron’s hand as he shook hands with Macron’s wife, Brigitte.

0:00 Trump lauds Macron and France and its ‘unbreakable ties’ with the US Share Trump lauds Macron and France and its ‘unbreakable ties’ with the US

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Refugees of all ages now eligible for government’s national vaccination program

The federal government has made catch-up vaccines available to refugees of all ages on the National Immunisation Program for the first time.

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Refugees often arrive in Australia without their vaccinations record.

Those that do have them are often on different vaccination schedules, as they differ from country to country.

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But thanks to the National Immunisation Program it will now be far easier than before to stay on track.

“We think this is a really positive step forward,” Public Health Association CEO Michael Moore said.

Around half a million Australians aged between 10 and 19 currently lack full immunisation. This threatens the “herd immunity” required to prevent infectious disease outbreaks.

“What it means is that for those very small number of people who have compromised immune systems, and are not able to be vaccinated, the rest of the community’s vaccination, by and large, protects them,” Mr Moore said.

According to public health studies, immunisation needs to cover 95 per cent of the population to keep it safe.

It pays to guard against complacency as evidenced earlier this year after a measles outbreak in Romania killed 17 children and infected thousands more.

The children who died had not been vaccinated.

Dr Fatin Toma, Alice Ewaz, Ayad Ewaz and their two sons Arman (left) and Andre (right).SBS World News

‘I thank God that we reached this safe country’

There are certain diseases which can circulate in the community and they are very dangerous, and very serious,” Dr Fatin Toma said.

Dr Toma is a doctor in Sydney’s west, who deals with a high number of refugees.

As an Arabic speaker, Dr Toma is often on hand to help families such as the Ewaz’s, who moved to Australia from Iraq in November last year.

“We decided to move out of our country because there was no safety,” Ayad Ewaz said.

Their six-year-old Andre, and five-year-old Arman received their last catch-up vaccines from Dr Toma during the week.

The boys’ mother Alice said she is grateful for the service.

“I feel happy and I thank God that we reached this safe country,” Mrs Awaz said.

“Of course I am happy. It’s hard to express how happy I am inside.”

For Dr Toma, also an Iraqi, it’s a chance to make a difference.

“They are from my home country,” Dr Toma said.

“I have the same feeling, I’m happy to help them.

“I’m very happy to help everyone, of course. But especially from my home country.”

Around half a million Australians aged between 10 and 19 currently lack full immunisation.SBS World News

 

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Vic recycling facilities to be audited, fire under control

Recycling facilities across Victoria will be audited after a massive blaze ripped through a Melbourne plant, forcing the evacuation of dozens of homes and leaving some people in hospital.

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The state government announced the taskforce on Saturday after the blaze took hold at the Coolaroo plant earlier in the week.

The Environment Protection Authority, Metropolitan Fire Brigade, Country Fire Authority and Emergency Management Victoria will make up the joint taskforce.

Environment minister Lily D’Ambrosio also announced an interim waste management policy that will force facilities to better store materials to minimise health and environment risks.

“We are taking immediate measures to ensure better protections for Victorians and our environment,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

The policy will stay in place for 12 months until a permanent solution is found.

Blaze under control: Premier

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the fire was under control after visiting the site on Saturday.

“There was a strategy put in place yesterday afternoon to increase the foam that’s been put on this fire, that’s been successful,” Mr Andrews told reporters.

0:00 Victoria Premier Daniels Andrews gives update on blaze Share Victoria Premier Daniels Andrews gives update on blaze

The premier said it was a “fantastic outcome”, and thanked firefighters from the ACT, South Australia and New South Wales, as well as other emergency services, for their support.

“There’ll be a lot of work to be done still in the coming days, but ahead of much more significant winds tomorrow it’s important to make that breakthrough,” he said.

During Saturday, two bulk water tankers and a turbine-aided firefighting robot will arrive from Fire Rescue NSW along with 10 crew.

The South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service has also deployed two tankers and a logistics vehicle and crew, along with two tankers and a command vehicle and crew from ACT Fire and Rescue.

0:00 Residents told to evacuate as Coolaroo fire persists Share Residents told to evacuate as Coolaroo fire persists

Thirty-eight trucks and about 130 firefighters have been working around the clock since the fire broke out in the stockpile of plastic, cardboard and paper.

Four people hospitalised

Four people, including a four-year-old girl, have been hospitalised due to toxic smoke, while 15 people were assessed by paramedics on Friday.

Upfield train station and 115 homes in the nearby suburb of Dallas were evacuated on Thursday night when air quality levels dropped to very poor.

A change in conditions allowed people to return to their homes on Friday, although residents were advised to monitor warnings closely in case the situation changes.

The plant – which also caught fire in February, June and on Wednesday afternoon – was due to be inspected on Thursday over its fire management practices, Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority said.

The cause of the blaze is not yet known but the MFB said it was not related to this week’s earlier fire.

SKM Recycling declined to comment because the incident was under investigation.

Melbourne-based Maddens Lawyers flagged a possible class action against the factory’s US-based owner-operator, SKM Industries.

A community relief centre has been set up at the Broadmeadows Aquatic and Leisure Centre.

Evacuees inside the Broadmeadows Aquatic and Leisure Centre which is serving as evacuation centre, Friday, July 14, 2107. AAP

 

Bulldogs go back to the future for AFL fix

Video highlights of what has brought them recent success have formed part of the Western Bulldogs’ strategy this week as they look to resurrect their flagging AFL season.

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The reigning premiers are turning to positive reinforcement in a bid to bounce back against Carlton at the MCG on Sunday.

Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said there was no mystery to his team’s 1-4 win-loss record since the round 11 bye that has resulted in a slide to a precarious 11th on the ladder.

“It’s actually just method. When you break down team defence and the way we want to use the ball, we probably haven’t looked like the team we want to be,” Beveridge said.

“We’ve trained it (this week), we’ve looked at some vision and it’s reasonably clear in our minds as to what it can look like.

“It’s quite simple, we’ve done it before, albeit with a different mix of personnel.

“But all these boys who present on Sunday have been able to play good footy within our system and there’s no doubt they’ll apply themselves.”

Beveridge said the Bulldogs were acutely aware of the Blues’ ability to restrict opposition scoring.

Since their mid-season bye, Carlton have produced a 2-3 record that included narrow losses to top-eight contenders Adelaide and Melbourne in the past two weeks.

“We’ve looked at that and it has been one of their strengths that they have been able to arrest momentum and get themselves back into a game,” Beveridge said.

“We’ve prepared for it, but executing it against them is another thing.

“Time will tell and the early part of the game is always critical and to get it on our terms is our objectives.”

The Bulldogs have promoted 18-year-old South Australian recruit Lewis Young. The 197cm defender was the youngest player in the AFL draft last November.

“He plays the way we want him to play in our back end and he has become a really influential player at a young age,” Beveridge said.

“As you saw last week, we needed some height in our back end and support down there.”