- William, Kate and baby George kick off Australia tour
- Scores rescued from sinking South Korean ferry, two dead
- William and Kate depart New Zealand for Australia
Posted: 15 Apr 2014 10:30 PM PDT
Sydney (AFP) - Prince William and his wife Kate flew into Sydney on Wednesday with their baby son George to kick off the Australian leg of their tour Down Under.
The royals disembarked from an Australian air force 737 under sunny skies after arriving from New Zealand, an AFP photographer said.
Eight-month-old Prince George was in his mother's arms as Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove -- who represents William's grandmother Queen Elizabeth II in Australia -- greeted the couple at Kingsford Smith airport.
A grand reception by the state of New South Wales awaited in the afternoon at the harbourside Opera House, where several thousand onlookers had gathered.
A new poll published Wednesday showed support for a republic in Australia, where the British queen remains head of state, has dropped to a more than two-decade low.
Some 51 percent oppose switching from a constitutional monarchy to a republic, compared to 42 percent who support it, according to the Fairfax-Nielsen survey of 1,400 people carried out from Thursday to Saturday.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were greeted by crowds in the tens of thousands during their 10-day tour of New Zealand, even in small regional towns such as Blenheim and Cambridge.
The royals visit the Blue Mountains on Thursday, Brisbane on April 19 and Uluru (Ayers Rock) on April 22.
They head to Adelaide on April 23 and the capital Canberra on April 24 and 25, before flying home.
Posted: 15 Apr 2014 09:07 PM PDT
LATEST: SEOUL (Reuters) - More than 100 people remained missing on Wednesday after a South Korean ferry with 477 people aboard capsized off the country's southwest coast, Yonhap news agency said.
Yonhap and YTN television said 368 people had been rescued from the vessel, which sank after issuing a distress call early on Wednesday. Those numbers could not be independently verified.
SEOUL (Reuters) - About 160 passengers, including high school students, were plucked to safety on Wednesday in a dramatic rescue from a South Korean passenger ferry sinking with 475 on board, officials said, although at least two people had died.
South Korean officials said the rescue operation was still underway and it was difficult to offer any confirmed information about the remaining 300 or so people on board.
The ferry, identified as the Sewol, was carrying 475 passengers and crew and 150 vehicles, according to Korean port authorities, when it began to list badly as it neared Jeju island, about 100 km (60 miles) south of the Korean peninsula.
Within hours, television pictures showed the Sewol lying on its port side. Soon after the ship had completely capsized, with only the forward part of its white and blue hull showing above the water.
An official from the Danwon High School in Ansan, a suburb in the capital Seoul, said all its 338 students and teachers had been rescued safely but that could not be confirmed by the coast guard or other officials involved in the rescue.
The students and teachers were on a field trip to Jeju, said the official, who asked not to be identified.
A distress signal was sent from the ship early on Wednesday, the South Korean coast guard said, triggering a rescue operation involving dozens of ships and helicopters.
There was no immediate indication of what caused the ship to list and roll on its side, although one witness told YTN television there had been a "loud impact and noise" before it started sinking.
The coast guard later said one person had been found dead inside the sinking ferry. An official from the Mokpo Hankook hospital on the mainland said another person had died soon after arriving at its emergency ward.
Television and still pictures showed the badly listing ferry surrounded by debris, rescue ships, helicopters and at least one inflatable lifeboat.
Chang Kyung-hak, a crew member on a ship sent from a nearby town to help with the rescue, said his vessel was carrying dozens of people, including students who had been saved from the ferry, and that most were in fair condition.
However, two people were suffering minor burns, Chang told Reuters by telephone. Weather conditions were fair, he said, and the sea appeared calm.
The ferry had left from the port of Incheon, about 30 km (20 miles) west of the capital, Seoul, late on Sunday.
A government official said the rescue operation involved 18 helicopters and 34 navy and coast guard vessels.
The ferry, which also carries cars and trucks, has a capacity of about 900 people and has an overall length of 146 metres (480 feet) and weighs 6,586 gross tonnes. Shipping records show it was built in Japan in 1994.
A passenger on board told YTN television the first rescue helicopter had reached the vessel soon after the distress signal was sent.
The unidentified passenger, who spoke before people were evacuated, sounded calm and said those on board were in their cabins but were having trouble keeping their balance.
Heavy fog had set in overnight off the west coast, leading to the cancellation of many island passenger ferry services.
(Additional reporting by Ju-Min Park and Meeyoung Cho; Writing by Jack Kim; Editing by Paul Tait)
Posted: 15 Apr 2014 07:09 PM PDT
Wellington (AFP) - Prince William and his wife Kate departed New Zealand with their baby son Prince George on Wednesday, an AFP reporter saw, heading for Sydney to begin the Australian leg of their tour Down Under.
The royals waved as they boarded an Australian air force 737, with William carrying his eight-month old son in his arms.
On their final day in New Zealand, William and Kate were introduced to German Shepherd puppies destined to become police dogs when they visited Wellington's Royal New Zealand Police College.
They also conducted a walkabout in the capital's downtown area.
They have been treated like celebrities during their 10-day visit, attracting crowds in the tens of thousands, even in small regional towns such as Blenheim and Cambridge.
The New Zealand trip has included yacht racing, Maori ceremonies involving warriors with tattooed backsides on display, and an adrenaline-charged jetboat ride on a lake nestled between the picturesque mountains of Queenstown.
The highlight was undoubtedly a "play date" involving George and 10 local babies at Wellington's Government House, giving the public a rare glimpse of the royal toddler.
They set off from Wellington at 0100 GMT and are due to touch down at about 0430 GMT.
They will travel straight to the Sydney Opera House for an official reception to begin their Australian tour, which continues until April 25 and includes a trip to Uluru (Ayers Rock) in the country's fabled outback.
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