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Fresh warnings issued for bushfire-threatened Australian towns

Fresh warnings issued for bushfire-threatened Australian towns

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Fresh warnings issued for bushfire-threatened Australian towns

A massive out-of-control bushfire in Australia’s Victoria state that has destroyed properties and killed livestock prompted fresh evacuation alerts on Saturday for several rural towns.

Emergency authorities early Saturday issued new warnings for the blaze, which on Thursday prompted more than 2,000 people to leave towns in the state’s west and head to the nearby regional hub of Ballarat, 95 km (59 miles) west of state capital Melbourne.

“Leaving immediately is the safest option, before conditions become too dangerous,” Vic Emergency said on its website, regarding the fire that has burnt through more than 11,000 hectares (110 square kms).

The highest danger was for small rural communities of Bayindeen, Chute, Elmhurst and Mount Lonarch, the agency said.

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Jason Heffernan, chief officer of Victoria state fire department, said on Friday that early reports indicated losses of sheds and livestock in the blaze, with one home confirmed destroyed.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp reported on Saturday that three homes and several outbuildings had been destroyed.
Around 1,000 firefighters supported by more than 50 aircraft have battled the fire since it broke out earlier this week.

Australia is currently in the grips of an El Nino weather pattern, which is typically associated with extreme phenomena such as wildfires, cyclones and droughts.

The last two bushfire seasons in Australia have been subdued compared with the 2019-2020 “Black Summer” when bushfires destroyed an area the size of Turkey, killed 33 people, 3 billion animals and trillions of invertebrates.

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British jets shot down Iranian drones, PM Sunak says

British jets shot down Iranian drones, PM Sunak says

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British jets shot down Iranian drones, PM Sunak says

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Sunday that British military jets shot down drones launched by Iran in its attack on Israel and called for “calm heads to prevail” to avoid an escalation of the conflict.

“I can confirm that our planes did shoot down a number of Iranian attack drones,” Sunak told broadcasters.

“If this attack had been successful, the fallout for regional stability would be hard to overstate. We stand by the security of Israel and the wider region, which is of course important for our security here at home, too. What we now need is for calm heads to prevail.”

Sunak was due to join discussions between Group of Seven leaders later on Sunday.

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“It’s important that we coordinate with allies and we’ll be discussing next steps at that moment,” he said

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Hezbollah source says Israel struck position in east Lebanon

Hezbollah source says Israel struck position in east Lebanon

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Hezbollah source says Israel struck position in east Lebanon

A Hezbollah source said Israel struck Sunday one of the Iran-backed group’s buildings in Lebanon’s east, close to the Syrian border, as tensions soared after Iran directly attacked Israel.

“The Israeli strike targeted an area… near Baalbek and targeted a two-storey building belonging to Hezbollah,” a source within the Lebanese group told AFP, adding there were no casualties.

Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency reported that “an enemy air strike targeted a building” in the village of Nabi Sheet and “destroyed it”.

An AFP photographer at the site saw the concrete and steel wreckage of the building, levelled in the attack.

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Earlier on Sunday, Hezbollah said it had twice launched barrages of rockets towards the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, after it joined in the major Iranian drone and missile attack against Israel.

The Iranian attack was in response to an April 1 air strike widely blamed on Israel that destroyed an Iranian consulate building in Damascus, killing seven Revolutionary Guards, including two generals.

Hamas ally Hezbollah has exchanged near-daily cross-border fire with Israel since the Palestinian militant group attacked southern Israel on October 7 triggering the war in the Gaza Strip.

The violence, which has largely been contained to the border area, has so far killed at least 363 people in Lebanon, mostly Hezbollah fighters but also including at least 70 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

In Israel, the military says 10 soldiers and eight civilians have been killed.

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Tens of thousands of civilians have fled their homes on both sides of the border. 

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Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon reopen airspace after Iran attacks

Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon reopen airspace after Iran attacks

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Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon reopen airspace after Iran attacks

Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon have reopened their airspace after closing it late on Saturday as Iran launched drone and missile attacks against Israel, the three countries said on Sunday.

Jordan’s state TV said the country had resumed air traffic operations, citing aviation authorities. The opening of its airspace came more than three hours earlier than scheduled.

Iraq’s aviation authority said security risks had now been overcome.

Lebanon said its airport will resume its activities after the overnight closure, state TV reported.

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Iran launched explosive drones and fired missiles at Israel late on Saturday – its first direct attack on Israeli territory in a retaliatory strike that raises the threat of wider regional conflict.

Jordan, which lies between Iran and Israel, had readied air defences to intercept any drones or missiles that violated its territory, two regional security sources said.

US and British warplanes were involved in shooting down some Israel-bound drones over the Iraq-Syria border area, Israel’s Channel 12 reported. 

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