- One dead in bomb blasts at Indian train station
- Baby wallaby rescued from Facebook sale
- UNESCO condemns dredge waste dumping in Barrier Reef waters
Posted: 30 Apr 2014 10:15 PM PDT
CHENNAI, India, May 01, 2014 (AFP) - Twin bombs planted on a train killed at least one person and wounded nine others in the main southern Indian city of Chennai on Thursday, a railway official said.
The explosion, which comes as India holds mammoth general elections, went off in a carriage of an overnight train from Bangalore as it pulled into Chennai central station shortly after 7:00 am (0130 GMT), official Rakesh Misra said.
A 22-year-old woman was killed when one of the devices which had been placed underneath her seat exploded, said Misra, general manager of the southern region for Indian Railways.
"At least two people have suffered grievous injuries and seven have minor injuries," he told reporters in comments aired on Indian television.
"Civil police... are investigating what kind of bomb it was and why anyone could have placed the bomb."
Security has been tightened across India as the country holds a six-week general election which has been marred by deadly violence in other parts of the country, including attacks by Maoist rebels.
Voting has already taken place in most major cities, including Chennai which went to the polls last week.
Posted: 30 Apr 2014 09:02 PM PDT
SYDNEY, May 01, 2014 (AFP) - A man is facing charges after he allegedly attempted to sell a baby wallaby on Facebook, attracting bids as high as Aus$10,000 (US$9,291) before he was caught, officials said Thursday.
The marsupial was rescued by Western Australia's Department of Parks and Wildlife after an officer posing as a potential buyer met the man in a car park in Broome, in the state's north.
The 26-year-old, who faces five offences under the Wildlife Conservation Act, had allegedly advertised the joey for sale for Aus$3,500, wildlife officer Peter Carstairs said.
"We understand there was an offer of up to Aus$10,000 from a buyer visiting from overseas," Carstairs said of the wallaby, a native animal which ressembles a smaller version of the kangaroo.
The man faces penalties of up to Aus$4,000 for some of the charges he faces, which include possession of and selling of protected fauna.
Carstairs said the department became aware of the situation after local residents complained.
"The community outrage generated by this incident shows that people really care about protecting our native wildlife," he told national broadcaster ABC.
"It is illegal to sell or possess any part of a native animal in Western Australia unless you have a wildlife licence. There is a black market trade in Australian wildlife and it is a practice that must be stopped."
The joey, which had been brought into Western Australia from neighbouring Northern Territory, is being cared for by wildlife experts.
It will eventually be returned to the Northern Territory and released into the wild.
Posted: 30 Apr 2014 07:15 PM PDT
SYDNEY, May 01, 2014 (AFP) - UNESCO on Thursday condemned a decision to allow the dumping of dredge waste in Great Barrier Reef waters and recommended the Australian marine park be considered for inclusion on the World Heritage in Danger list.
The decision in January to allow three million cubic metres of dredge waste to be disposed of in park waters followed a decision by the government to give the green light to a major coal port expansion for India's Adani Group on the reef coast in December.
Conservationists warn it could hasten the demise of the reef, which is already considered to be in "poor" health, with dredging smothering corals and seagrasses and exposing them to poisons and elevated levels of nutrients.
In its first comments on the issue, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization "noted with concern" and "regrets" the move, which it said "was approved despite an indication that less-impacting disposal alternatives may exist".
It asked the government to provide a new report to the World Heritage Committee proving that dumping was the least damaging option and would not hurt the reef's value.
More generally, UNESCO expressed concern "regarding serious decline in the condition of the Great Barrier Reef, including in coral recruitment and reef-building across extensive parts of the property".
The body said "a business-as-usual approach to managing the property is not an option".
Given the reef's long-term deterioration, it recommended the World Heritage Commitee consider putting it on its in danger list in 2015 "in the absence of substantial progress on key issues".
WWF Australia spokesman Richard Leck said the government needed to act quickly to prevent the embarrassment of the reef being listed as in danger.
"UNESCO'S concern is shared by thousands of Australians and hundreds of leading scientists and we call on the federal government to ban dumping of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area prior to the World Heritage Committee meeting in June," he said.
The government in February insisted it had made "substantial" progress on UNESCO benchmarks for protection of the reef in a report aimed at staving off a world heritage downgrade.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt said it "demonstrates unequivocally the government's commitment to better managing and protecting this natural wonder".
According to the report, Australia was taking steps to bolster the reef's resilience to the major threats of extreme weather events and climate change, which it said "cannot be managed directly".
Working to reduce outbreaks of the coral-feeding crown-of-thorns starfish was a priority, as was tackling nutrient and sediment run-off from land-clearing and agriculture, the report said.
On port development, it said no projects "have been approved outside the existing and long-established major port areas within or adjoining" the reef.
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