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   PERTH, Australia (AP) - An Australian official overseeing the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane says underwater sounds picked up by equipment on an Australian navy ship are consistent with transmissions from black box recorders on a plane.
   The head of a joint agency coordinating the search in the southern Indian Ocean, calls it "very encouraging." But he says it may take days to confirm whether signals picked up by the ship Ocean Shield are indeed from the flight recorders on Flight 370.
   Angus Houston says the position of the noise needs to be further refined, and then an underwater autonomous vehicle can be sent in to investigate.
   The plane vanished March 8 during a flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing.
   
 
Published in National News
SYDNEY (AP) — A shark killed a woman Thursday as she swam with a group of swimmers off a popular Australian east coast beach, police said.
 
Christine Armstrong, 63, was taken as she attempted to swim the 600 meters (1,970 feet) between the wharf and beach near the village of Tathra, 340 kilometers (210 miles) south of Sydney, police said in a statement.
 
The Tathra Wharf to Waves — a swim from the wharf to the beach and back again — is an annual event that attracts hundreds of swimmers each summer.
 
Local council general manager Leanne Barnes said the victim was part of a group of locals who meet at the beach every morning to swim out to the wharf and back.
 
"It's a beautiful little coastal village and this is one of those sad things that can happen," Barnes said.
 
Armstrong's family said in a statement that she had been swimming at the beach for 14 years and had been a trainer at the local volunteer lifeguard club.
 
"Swimming brought her much joy and many friends," the statement said. "She will be sadly missed by all who loved her, especially by Rob, her husband of 44 years."
 
Police said a helicopter and boat were being used to search for remains. No details on the species of the shark were released.
 
Although sharks are common off Australia's coast, the country has averaged fewer than two fatal attacks per year in recent decades. But fatal attacks are becoming more common. Two men were killed in shark attacks off the east and west coasts in the space of a week in November last year. They were the only fatalities for 2013.
 
Police on Wednesday recovered remains of a 38-year-old man reported missing last week while diving south of the west coast city of Perth. Police said the remains had shark bites, but it was not clear whether the man had been bitten before or after he died.
 
Published in National News
   KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - An Australian search and rescue official says that planes have been sent to check on two objects possibly related to the missing Malaysia Airlines flight that were spotted on satellite imagery in the Indian Ocean about 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth.
 
 
 
 But John Young of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority cautioned Friday against expectations that this may help solve the mystery of the plane that went missing with 239 people on board nearly two weeks ago.
   Young told reporters, "We have been in this business of doing search and rescue and using sat images before and they do not always turn out to be related to the search even if they look good, so we will hold our views on that until they are sited close-up."
Published in National News

   SYDNEY (AP) — Scores of Australians have evacuated their homes in mountains west of Sydney as intensifying winds fanned wildfires that have ravaged the region for days.

   The winds were showering communities with embers Wednesday, and all schools were closed in anticipation of worsening fire conditions in the Blue Mountains. The region lost more than 200 homes to blazes last week.

   Springwood resident Rae Tebbutt said the atmosphere was tense in the village that was one of the worst-hit last week.

   Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons says 71 blazes are burning in New South Wales state around Sydney, including 29 burning out of control.

Published in National News

   SYDNEY (AP) — Australian police seized around 200 million Australian dollars ($190 million) worth of methamphetamine hidden in the tires of a truck shipped from China, officials said Friday.

   Three Melbourne men were arrested after officials found more than 200 kilograms (440 pounds) of the drug in a shipment from Shanghai that arrived in Melbourne on Oct. 1, the Australian Federal Police said.

   "The concealment did show up on X-ray but what was unusual about the truck was when you just looked at it, nothing," Australian Customs and Border Protection Service Victoria regional director Graham Krisohos said.

   Two of the three men arrested were dock workers in Melbourne. The men face charges of importing and attempting to possess drugs and face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

   Australian police have made a series of large drug busts in recent months. The country is becoming an increasingly lucrative market for international drug networks because of the strength of the local currency and resilience of the national economy compared to other wealthy nations.

Published in National News

St. Louis Based Peabody Energy plans to cut 450 jobs at Australian coal mines.

The St.  Louis Business Journal reports along with Switzerland-based coal company Glencore Xstrata, a combined 500 mining jobs in Australia will be cut as global coal supplies push down prices.

The cuts will take place over the coming weeks across Peabody's operations in Queensland and New South Wales, where it mines both coking and thermal coal.

Prices for coking coal, used in steel making, have fallen about 40 percent in the last year while prices for thermal coal, used in power generation, have dropped 30 percent in the last two years, according to the news agency.

St. Louis-based Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU), the world's largest private-sector coal company, reported a loss of $575.1 million in fiscal 2012, on revenue of $8.1 billion.

 

 

 

Published in Local News

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