April, 2019

Search called off in Canada boat sinking

Five Britons have died and a sixth person, believed to be Australian, is missing and feared dead after a whale-watching boat carrying 27 people capsized near Vancouver Island off Canada’s Pacific coast.


The search and rescue operation was called off on Monday after 21 survivors were plucked from the water, Lieutenant Commander Desmond James of he Coast Guard’s rescue centre in the provincial capital Victoria told AFP.

A Royal Canadian Mounted Police dive team later took over, scouring the ocean bed and the rugged coastline nearby for any sign of the missing sixth person, who has yet to be identified.

AAP has been told by the family of a Sydney man, 27, that he was on the boat with his girlfriend and her family when it went down.

Her father was one of five British citizens confirmed dead.

Officials admitted there was little chance the passenger would be found alive, almost 24 hours after the Leviathan II sent out a distress call to say it was sinking.

“We still remain hopeful, but we have to assume the worst,” said RCMP Corporal Janelle Shoihet.

Federal Transportation Safety Board (TSB) investigators, meanwhile, secured the site of the wreckage.

In London, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said the four men and a woman who perished in the capsize were all British citizens.

“My thoughts are with the family and friends of all those affected by this terrible accident,” Hammond said in a statement.

Two of the victims were Canadian residents while the other three were tourists, said the British Columbia coroner’s office.

They were aged 18 to 76.

The Leviathan II went down some 12 kilometres off Tofino, a resort town on the western edge of Vancouver Island.

Owned by Jamie’s Whaling Station and Adventure Centres, the 20-metre cruise vessel was reportedly out on one of its last tours of the season, which ends October 31.

“This particular boat has done this exact same trip for 20 years twice a day. Yesterday was no different than any other day,” said tour company owner Jamie Bray.

But for reasons yet unknown, the ship capsized in waters less than seven metres deep, its bow remaining visible above water.

Locals told Canadian media the vessel may have hit rocks.

“It’s much too early to say what the causes of this accident might be,” said TSB Director of Marine Investigations Marc Andre Poisson.

A company spokeswoman said the incident happened “so quickly” that the crew was unable to send out a distress signal.

Once in the water, the crew set off flares that attracted the attention of local aboriginal fishermen nearby.

Eighteen people were hospitalised, several suffering from hypothermia, media said.

“The response here has been nothing short of phenomenal, the way that people are bringing out blankets and clothing and food, donating what they can and offering all of the services that they have,” Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne told broadcaster CTV.

“Tofino’s thoughts and prayers are with passengers, crew, emergency responders and their families. Thank you all for your messages of support,” she wrote on Twitter.

A “shocked and saddened” prime minister-elect Justin Trudeau offered his thoughts and prayers to passengers, the crew and families of the victims.

An employee who answered the phone at Jamie’s Whaling Station said the company was focused on the passengers and crew.

Tofino is a popular surfing and whale-watching town near the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Jamie’s Whaling Station, one of the area’s largest tourist boat outfitters, was hit by a deadly tragedy once before, in 1998.

According to TSB records, two of the four people aboard a whale-watching ship, Ocean Thunder, died after a “large swell wave struck the boat from the port side.”

Pioneering female jockey not ready for pasture yet

When Debbie Waymouth started riding race horses, a career as professional jockey was closed to women.


“When I was 13 my Dad needed a track rider so good ol’ Debbie would do it and I remember saying to Dad ‘How do I pull him up at the winning post?’ and he said ‘Oh he’ll stop at the winning post’,” said Waymouth of her first ride.

Waymouth competed in the women-only races in the 1970s, known colloquially as the Powder Puff Derbies.

And while it was a thrill to compete against a full field, she said it was frustrating to see winning horses advance to bigger races while their jockeys could not.

“You’d get offered rides and you’d win on them and then they’d go into other races that were only for men,” she said.

“So you sort of missed out that way.”

But in 1989, she had her first chance to race against the men.

“It was Balnarring Cup day, I had three rides and I was lucky to ride three winners and I rode the Balnarring Cup winner and that was a really big thrill,” said Waymouth.

Now 60 years old, Waymouth is entering her forty-second year on the circuit and still can’t be caught.

This year she took out the Healesville Cup on Tearaway Tommy, a horse trained by her daughter Rebecca Waymouth.

The mother and daughter jockey and trainer team is unusual in the industry.

“It certainly bucks the mould but hey we can’t all be the same,” said Rebecca Waymouth.

The first official licenses for female jockeys were given out in 1979, and since then the number of women apprentices coming in to the sport has reached par with the men in many states.


The sport of kings is fast becoming the sport of queens.

“We definitely have a high number of applicants and currently more than 40 per cent of our apprentices are female, and since 2011 it averages about 50 per cent the intake,” said Melissa Weatherley from Racing Victoria.

In the past two years, five female jockeys have been killed.

But Ms Weatherley insists the sport is just as dangerous for men as it is for women.

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“They were unfortunate and they were all really unusual situations and we work really hard to always be improving the safety for our participants,” she said.

“I don’t think it had a negative outcome in terms of applications – we still have, if not as many, more female jockeys applying for our apprenticeship program.”

And the new recruits are likely to have Debbie Waymouth to contend with.

The veteran sayid she was still not ready to hand in her reigns

“Every time I think I might Becky gets another horse and I think ‘Oh yes that’s a nice horse I’ll give it another go.'”

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Australian travellers heading to Europe to help migrants

But she’s told SBS none of what she saw there compared to the scenes she’s witnessed on the Greek island of Lesbos where she is working with aid agency Medecins du Monde Greece.


“In terms of the amount of people and the injuries that we’re seeing and how destitute they are, and the sad looks on their faces and the sheer shock of what they’re going through. It’s really sad,” she said

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Dozens of refugees including many children have died trying to make the short but perilous journey from Turkey to Greece’s outlying islands in recent months, often in overcrowded inflatables.

More than half a million people, many of them fleeing Syria’s civil war, have managed to reach Greece on that route on their way to central and northern Europe.

Ms Zahos said in recent days at least seven people had died, including two babies who died on arrival.

She said despite the tragedy of the stories, she’s heartened by the response of many Greeks on the island who are doing what they can to help.

“People leaving garage doors open so they can shelter, handing out food, volunteering and making soup, and even handing out clothes. There was one man as we were bringing the boat that were running down with his own towels from home trying to dry children off.”

European Union and Balkan leaders have agreed to a 17-point plan to manage the movement of refugees and migrants through the Balkan Peninsula.

Measures agreed on include 100,000 places in reception centres be made available along the route from Greece to Germany – half of them in Greece, and the other half in countries to its north.

European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker said it was also agreed that the EU’s border agency Frontex would strengthen border management.

Migrants ‘particular concern’ for bushfire season

Are you prepared for bushfire season?

With scientists warning Australia is headed for a major El Nino, more hot spells and a raised bushfire risk are predicted this summer.


Migrants are being encouraged to get educated about the dangers and what to do in an emergency.

Phillippa Carisbrooke reports.

Bushfires are a reality in Australia.

In primary school, children are taught about the dangers of life in the so-called sunburnt country and how to protect themselves.

But many migrants miss out on those important life lessons.

That concerns consultant psychologist Rob Gordon, who has advised governments on how to help people affected by disasters.

“It’s very important that people who come from other cultures really be aware they’ve got to actually really try to understand this phenonomen in a way that’s more intensive than for people who’ve just had it all their lives.”

Over the last 32 years, Dr Gordon has helped countless bushfire survivors and their families.

He says it is significant that the migrants he has worked with have tended to be city dwellers who encountered trouble during trips to the country.

“Very often, the areas I’ve been involved in (that were) affected by bushfires don’t have very high populations of recent immigrants. They’re sort of rural areas or outer-suburban areas, and so it’s not such a factor. But I think visiting is a major problem, particularly if they’re not well aware of danger.”

The Australian Red Cross has released a new four-step, emergency-preparation guide to help people survive disasters, including bushfires.

It advises people to learn the risks they face and connect with members of their communities so they can help each other in case of emergencies.

The Red Cross’s Emergency Services National Preparedness Coordinator, John Richardson, says, for new arrivals, it is a good conversation starter.

“We would certainly encourage them to talk to their own community associations or people from their community who may have lived in Australia for some time. We’re aware that, certainly, the Fire Services will have information translated into other languages.”

The Australian Psychological Society Disaster Reference Group says children living in areas vulnerable to bushfire should be involved in their households’ preparations.

Senior psychologist Susie Burke says it gives them a greater sense of control and eases their fears.

Dr Burke says carers should be mindful that, in an emergency, even children not directly threatened can become anxious listening to media reports and hearing adult conversations.

“We call that a vicarious distress. But it can be quite powerful for children. It can be quite unsettling. And so, in that situation, one of the things that we recommend parents do is to reassure the children that they themselves are safe and that the people they love and care for are safe.”

A schoolgirl’s account of Victoria’s worst bushfire, the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009, illustrates a person does not need to be in the centre of an emergency to be traumatised by it.

This is what she wrote:

“Personally, I was safe. I lived two kilometres from the heart of Traralgon … However, it was terrifying … The sky glowed … Embers showered down over our driveways and gardens. It was apocalyptic … Radios everywhere blurted out round-the-clock updates, and we all listened carefully to the names of tiny towns and held our breath at the news of another victim.”

In all, 173 lives were lost in the Black Saturday bushfires.




AFL 2016 fixture elements emerge

The New Zealand experiment is in jeopardy, Carlton are banished from the Friday night spotlight and the AFL will trial Kevin Sheedy’s new big idea.


These are the latest developments as the league drip-feeds features of the 2016 fixture ahead of Thursday’s announcement.

The AFL also released the pre-season schedule on Tuesday, with new AFL coaches Brendon Bolton and Don Pyke to go up against their old clubs in the first round of the pre-season cup.

Bolton’s Carlton will open the 27-game schedule on February 18 in Launceston against three-time premiers Hawthorn.

Bolton made his name as an assistant coach at the Hawks before landing his first senior job with the Blues.

Similarly, Pyke will be in charge of Adelaide for the first time in a home game at suburban Unley Oval on February 21 against losing grand finalists West Coast.

Pyke, a two-time West Coast premiership player, left his assistant role at the Eagles to take over the Crows.

Another notable feature of the pre-season cup will be John Worsfold’s first game as Essendon coach, on February 28 against Carlton at Visy Park.

The last regular-season game between the two fierce rivals at Visy Park was round 10, 1992.

It has also emerged that the Blues will go from six Friday night games this season – which became contentious when they played so badly – to none next year.

The closest they will come to the marquee time slot is when they open the season with the traditional Thursday night blockbuster against Richmond at the MCG.

Also, the AFL website reports that St Kilda’s Anzac Day match in NZ will not go ahead next year after negotiations with Christchurch’s city council did not work out.

The Saints have played Anzac Day matches in Wellington for the past three years, but the crowd has dropped each time.

They hope to eventually play matches in Auckland.

“While we will not play a match in NZ next season, we are in positive discussions about growing the game of AFL in NZ and capitalising upon the growing support for AFL in Auckland in particular,” Saints chief executive Matt Finnis said.

And the round-four match between Essendon and Geelong at the MCG will be the AFL’s inaugural country game.

The match will honour Australia’s farmers, with the Yarra Park around the ground to host a country festival.

Sheedy was a key figure in the AFL’s latest themed game.

He also had a major role in the creation of the Essendon v Collingwood Anzac Day blockbuster – now the AFL’s biggest match outside the finals – and the Dreamtime At The ‘G indigenous match between the Bombers and Richmond.

The pre-season cup will run until March 13, with each team playing three matches over four weekends.

The Blues and Tigers will open the regular season on Easter Thursday, March 24.