South-Eastern Australia is in the grip of a heatwave with temperatures threatening the record books. Temperatures across the country are reaching between 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit), with the hottest recorded temperatures in many centres threatened, as well as the highest temperature every recorded in Australia.
Protestant pastor Ilmurad Nurliev is due to begin trial in Turkmenistan on the morning of Thursday 21 October, nearly two months after his arrest, Forum 18 News Service has learned.
“The criminal trial in Mary [a south-eastern town in Turkmenistan) is on charges of large-scale swindling, with a penalty of up to five years’ jail. His wife and church members vigorously deny the charges, and insist that the five people named as making accusations are not as the indictment claims church members,” said Felix Corley of Forum 18 News Service.
“Three of them only attended the church a few times, and the remaining two are unknown. Other accusations vigorously denied are that Pastor Nurliev is a drug addict in need of treatment; he is a diabetic and – as she has not been allowed to see him – his wife is very concerned about his health. They also refute an allegation that he is unemployed and lives off the earnings of others, as he worked – until his arrest – as a barber.”
Maya Nurlieva, wife of the accused, told Forum 18, “Up to 20 church members will try to attend – all are ready to speak up to defend my husband.”
She has asked the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Centre in Ashgabad to send independent monitors to the trial. The Church has stopped meeting for worship after the arrest.
As bushfires rage across most of south-eastern Australia, the north, and in particular the north-east, has been hit by severe weather that has included a cyclone and widespread flooding. Areas of Queensland have been struck repeatedly by floods in the last couple of weeks and at least 60% of the state will be flood affected by the time the flooding has passed.
It is not just the initial areas that have been flooded that will be flooded, for the water is now moving in great volumes further downstream and will begin to flood areas that did not even experience rain during the severe weather. Inland areas of New South Wales and South Australia, including Lake Eyre, can expect moderate to major flooding in coming weeks as the water heads downstream.
Several lives have been lost as a result of the flooding, including a five year old boy who may have been taken by a Crocodile at Cape Tribulation in the Daintree region, after following his pet dog into flood waters.
Dozens of roads have been closed across Queensland and the damage bill is expected to be immense. There are fears that southern Queensland may soon be hit by flooding as the monsoonal trough heads south.
Over the last couple of weeks temperatures in south-eastern Australia have been steadily rising and finally reaching searing heatwave conditions in the last week or so. Temperatures have been between 40 and 48 degrees Celsius for almost 2 weeks in may inland areas of Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales. Finally the temperatures have peaked this weekend.
With the searing heat has now come strong hot winds and out of control bushfires. Many bushfires have become uncontrollable and unmanageable to any degree whatsoever and many are beginning to combine. These fires have become massive wildfires and are engulfing huge areas of inland south-eastern Australia.
The worst hit areas are to be found in Victoria where it is now confirmed that at least 65 people have died since Saturday – many more people are injured and missing and the death toll will climb. 700 homes and many other buildings including shops, police stations, service stations, hotels, motels, schools and many other buildings have been destroyed. Whole towns have been practically razed and wiped from the face of the earth.
This disaster is one of the worst bushfire catastrophes to have hit Australia, if not the worst ever. Certainly in the terms of loss of life this is by far the worst fires ever – and the disaster is ongoing, with many fires still burning.
ABOVE: An overview of the fires in Victoria
ABOVE: Bunyip State Forest Fire – photos from the start on Thursday through to Saturday
ABOVE: The Churchill fire in Victoria
ABOVE: Kevin Rudd activates the Commonwealth Disaster Plan