Australian aid begins to arrive in Vanuatu

Australian aid has begun to arrive in cyclone-ravaged Vanuatu after Port Vila airport was reopened.


The Red Cross has confirmed international aid arrived on Sunday morning and more help will come from Australia and New Zealand as the nation grapples with the aftermath of category five Cyclone Pam.

Australia has committed a “lifesaving” package of $5 million and humanitarian supplies.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says the commitment follows a request from the Vanuatu government.

“This package will include $5 million that will be provided to Australian NGOs, particularly the Red Cross and to other United Nations partners,” she told reporters in Perth.

“We will also be deploying humanitarian supplies to provide support for up to 5,000 people in the form of water, sanitation and shelter.”

The announcement was welcomed by Oxfam Country Director Colin Collet van Rooyen, who is in Port Vila.

“Obviously we’re going to need more, but we welcome it,” he told AAP.

“We have limited supplies of food in the country.”

Oxfam, World Vision and CARE International are already on the ground in Vanuatu with teams who were there before the cyclone hit.

The official death toll stands at least six in Vanuatu’s capital but is expected to rise, with unconfirmed reports of 44 people killed in just one province.

Mr Collet van Rooyen said more people would die in coming days from injuries, because access to villages and outer islands was limited.

“Some people’s death could be prevented if we can access them now,” he said.

“People with search and rescue expertise are incredible needed at this point.”

The Oxfam spokesman said he still didn’t know whether the main hospital’s power had been restored since the generator went down.

The long-term financial impact on Vanuatu could be severe, with infrastructure and tourism likely to be heavily impacted, he said.

“The people of Vanuatu are going to have to rebuild, but rebuild in a ways that are more sustainable, more category 5 cyclone resistant,” Mr Collet van Rooyen told AAP.

Aid agencies warn it could be days before the full extent of the damage is known – and it will take months to rebuild the tiny island nation.

World Vision said more than 2,000 people had already sought refuge in emergency shelters in the capital Port Vila, but it could take weeks to reach the more remote islands affected.

At this point, no one has heard anything from the outlying islands.

World Vision worker Chloe Morrison says the winds from Cyclone Pam, in excess of 250km/h, turned buildings into debris.

“Whole villages have been blown away. The homes have been absolutely completely flattened, they’re just piles of timber, and sometimes not even that. They just are totally decimated,” she said in a statement.

Request for Widodo phone call stands: PM

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is still waiting for a phone call from the Indonesian president in his attempts to avert the deaths of the two Bali Nine drug smugglers.


Mr Abbott said he last spoke with President Joko Widodo about a fortnight ago to raise the issue of Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran on death row in Indonesia.

“He might think that the subject has been well and truly discussed, but my request for a phone call stands and it’s up to the Indonesian president to respond,” he told reporters in Sydney on Sunday.

Even so, Mr Abbott said the relationship between Australia and Indonesia is as at least as strong under his government as under the former Labor government.

He was responding to comments by Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek that the relationship has been damaged by the Abbott government’s policy of turning-back of asylum seeking boats.

“It has not been good for it in the past,” she told Sky News.

But Mr Abbott said the fact that the people smuggling trade has all but shut because of the policies of this government is one of the reasons why the relationship is stronger.

“There isn’t that irritant in the relationship that existed for about five years under the former government,” he said.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the planned execution of the two drug smugglers is unlikely to go ahead until all legal proceedings are completed.

Australia is waiting for the outcome of legal proceedings including an appeal against the final rejection of the clemency plea and judicial commission hearings about allegations of bribery and corruption at Chan and Sukumaran’s original trial.

“I cannot imagine that further plans for the execution of these two Australian citizens would be proceeding while there are legal options still being pursued,” Ms Bishop told reporters in Perth.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon travelled to Indonesia last week with the Grand Mufti of Australia, who pleaded for mercy for the pair.

Back in Adelaide, Senator Xenophon said he hoped the religious leader’s message would spark a rethink in Jakarta.

“I hope there are now going to be Islamic clerics, many of whom I spoke to privately who agree with that position, who can now feel emboldened to speak out in Indonesia for mercy for Chan and Sukumaran,” he told reporters.

Wins for Tomic and Kokkinakis

Bernard Tomic and Thanasi Kokkinakis are one win away from an enticing clash at the Indian Wells Masters after rolling into the third round with impressive wins in the Californian desert.


Cashing in on his wildcard entry, Kokkinakis upset 23rd seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 7-5 5-7 6-3 on Saturday to improve to an impressive 4-1 against top-40 opponents this year.

A day after joining exciting young Croatian Borna Coric as the first 18-year-olds to win a match in Indian Wells since Tomic and American Ryan Harrison in 2011, Kokkinakis backed up to claw his way into the last 16 of a Masters Series event for the first time.

Kokkinakis fired 13 aces and broke the Spaniard’s serve on five of 10 chances.

Australia’s teenage Davis Cup star next plays Juan Monaco after the Argentine surprised US Open champion Marin Cilic, the 10th seed, 6-4 6-4 in his second-round match.

Tomic continued his fine start to 2015 with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Coric, his 18th win of the season setting up a meeting with Spanish eighth seed David Ferrer.

Ferrer scraped past Ivan Dodig 4-6 6-1 7-6 (8-6), while fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco ended James Duckworth’s tournament with a 6-2 7-6 (7-3) victory.

Despite the loss, Duckworth’s effort in making round two is set to propel the Australian into the world’s top 100 for the first time.

World No.1 Novak Djokovic kicked-started his bid for a fourth Indian Wells title by beating Marcos Baghdatis 6-1 6-3.

Gunning for the 50th singles title of his career, which would make him the 12th player in the open era to achieve such a milestone, Djokovic next plays Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain.

Andy Murray also moved into the third round on Saturday with a 6-1 6-3 defeat of Vasek Pospisil.

The hard-serving Canadian made it easier for the Scot as a result of his 35 unforced errors.

Murray broke Pospisil three times in the first set, winning the final six games.

They traded breaks to open the second before Murray broke Pospisil at love in the eighth game and then served his own love game to close out the match.

In other action, Kei Nishikori beat American Ryan Harrison 6-4 6-4 on a 91-degree day in the desert.

Nishikori dispatched Harrison in just over an hour despite struggling with his first serve.

The fifth-ranked Japanese player reached the third round at Indian Wells for the first time in eight tries.

Nishikori arrived in the desert on a roll, having reached the quarter-finals or better at each of his four previous tournaments this year.

Harrison fell to 1-24 against top-10 players in his career.

Moore leads Spieth by one at US PGA event

American Ryan Moore has a one-shot lead over Australian Open champion Jordan Spieth after three rounds of the US PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship in Florida.


Moore birdied four of the last six holes on his way to a four-under-par 67 on Saturday.

Moore opened with 12 pars and shot one of only two bogey-free rounds surrendered in the penultimate round at the Innisbrook resort’s Copperhead course to stand on nine-under 204 after 54 holes in Florida.

American Spieth fired a three-under-par round to sit one shot off the lead at eight under, while compatriot Derek Ernst is third at seven under.

American Sean O’Hair is fourth on six under with Swede Henrik Stenson joining the US duo of Matt Kuchar and Patrick Reed at five under.

Greg Chalmers is the best-placed Australian in a tie for 44th at one-over after a 73.

Moore is seeking his fifth US PGA triumph, the past two coming at the 2013 and 2014 CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

He also won in 2012 at Las Vegas and took his first PGA title in 2009 at Greensboro, North Carolina.

Moore missed a four-foot birdie putt at the par-five opening hole but saved par from 12 feet at the par-three fourth and eight feet at the par-three eighth.

“I just hit it closer,” Moore said of his late birdie run.

“I missed a lot of greens early, made a few chips and some great par savers. I made some good birdie chances from (13 on) and was able to hole them out.”

Moore sank eight-foot birdie putts at the par-three 13th and par-five 14th holes, rolled in a birdie from 31 feet at 16 and closed with a five-foot birdie putt at 18 to seize sole possession of the lead.

“You just always have to be mindful on this course,” Moore said.

“You have to let it dictate what you do out there and that’s how I’ve tried to play it.”

Spieth seeks his third title in five months, although his only US PGA career title so far came at the 2013 John Deere Classic.

Spieth won the Australian Open last November and followed up by winning the Hero World Challenge charity event hosted by Tiger Woods last December near Orlando.

Spieth opened with a tap-in birdie but took his lone bogey at the third, finding the left rough and a greenside bunker and missing a seven-foot par putt.

He sank a seven-footer for birdie at the ninth and a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-five 11th, then birdied from 11 feet at the par-three 15th.

Spieth would become the youngest US PGA two-time winner since Spaniard Sergio Garcia in 2001.

Aust selectors mull team for CWC quarters

Pat Cummins or Josh Hazlewood?

It’s likely to be the only question national selectors wrestle with this week as they mull the XI for Australia’s World Cup quarter-final at the Adelaide Oval.


Australia have made at least one change for every match since belting England in their tournament opener at the MCG.

Part of it has been fitness concerns, while form and differing pitches have also been a factor.

The tournament co-hosts look to have largely settled on their first-choice XI, with the exception of one spot.

Left-armers Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc have played every game in the past month.

But the third prong of the bowling attack has been harder to pin down – Cummins, Hazlewood and spinner Xavier Doherty have been given a go.

“It’s the beauty of four of us trying to get into three spots every game,” Cummins said.

“We want to do well but there’s also that added pressure of trying to hold your spot.”

Cummins returned from a side injury against Scotland on Saturday, when Australia wrapped up second spot in pool A with a seven-wicket win.

Doherty could yet keep Cummins and Hazlewood out of the side for Friday’s clash in Adelaide.

However, the Tasmanian tweaker is more likely to be considered for an SCG semi-final should Australia progress.

Adelaide Oval has traditionally been a spin-friendly pitch.

But based on the drop-in decks he has encountered at the venue this season, Cummins predicted the strip would favour pace.

“(It’s) been fast, bouncy both games I’ve played there,” the 21-year-old said.

“It’s been probably close to the quickest wicket I’ve played on this year I reckon.

“So obviously with a few of us trying to bowl quicker, I think it’s going to favour us.”

Starc has been arguably the form bowler of the tournament, while Johnson at his best can be a frightful proposition for any batsman.

Cummins suggested his side’s potent attack was a point of difference compared with other title contenders, especially in the middle overs.

“Batsmen try and accumulate plenty of singles and I think with fast bowlers you can try and rough them up,” the right-armer said.

“Or have a bit more flexibility of trying to be aggressive through those middle overs, so hopefully it’s one thing that sets us apart.”

Cummins’ opening spell of two overs conceded 17 runs against Scotland, but he bounced back in Hobart to finish with three wickets.

Given Cummins’ history of serious injuries, the speedster was thrilled to be on the park again after hurting himself a fortnight ago in Auckland.

“I have done my side two or three years ago and that was a real bad one,” Cummins said.

“This time I could tell it was nowhere near (as bad).

“But I did need that … rest.”

Australia will enjoy a day off on Monday before they return to training.

“It’s getting towards the business end. We just can’t wait to really get into the pressure games,” Cummins said.

Windies target New Zealand batting in likely showdown

“I couldn’t ask for anything more.


It was a must-win and we had to win by a big margin,” Holder told reporters at McLean Park. “The way the guys came out and played cricket today I can’t say much more.”

West Indies had been facing elimination if they could not secure a large win on Sunday.

Holder and Jerome Taylor reduced UAE to 46 for six before Amjad Javed and Nasir Aziz combined for a 107-run partnership that gave their score some credibility.

The associate nation were eventually dismissed for 175 and Holder’s team romped to 176-4 in the 31st over, with Johnson Charles (55) and Jonathan Carter (50 not out) providing the bulk of the runs.

Charles’ form will put pressure on Dwayne Smith, who has scored just 93 runs in six innings, for the quarter-finals if Chris Gayle is fit enough to play after he pulled out of Sunday’s match with a back injury.

Holder expects him to play in Wellington next Saturday.

“He has had the same back problem he has had for a year and he has good days and bad days,” Holder said of Gayle’s injury.

“But he is a crucial player for us going into the quarter-final. He will be up for it, even if he is not 100 percent.

“He is a big game player and we all know what he can do on those days.

“Obviously Johnson played a very good innings and has probably pretty much secured his spot for the next game but we will sit down, see the conditions and pick the team.”

Holder was mindful they could still possibly face Australia in the quarter-finals but were expecting to face Brendon McCullum’s side.

“New Zealand has been playing some pretty decent cricket,” he added in noting McCullum’s side were unbeaten.

“They have done reasonably well up top with guys like (Martin) Guptill, McCullum and Kane Williamson, so obviously the quicker we get into their middle order, the better off for us.

“And when we bat we just need to counter the Southee-Boult opening combination.”

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by John O’Brien)

Aust Zunic takes one-shot win in NZ Open

Wollongong youngster Jordan Zunic is celebrating a breakthrough victory in the New Zealand Open – only his fourth tournament as a professional.


The 22-year-old produced a display of sustained quality with scores of 68 66 66 66 to triumph by one shot at 21-under-par from veteran countryman David Bransdon as Australians swamped the final leaderboard, claiming the top nine spots.

Bransdon finished with a 64 at The Hills course at Arrowtown, making birdies on eight of his last 10 holes, but his bogey at the 18th cost him plenty as Zunic holed a two-metre birdie putt on the last to avoid a playoff.

Zunic turned pro despite failing to earn a card at the Australasian tour school and he only got into the NZ Open thanks to a top-10 finish at the New Zealand PGA Championship last week where he was a qualifier.

His victory was all the sweeter for his grim experience when involved in a serious car crash while playing as an amateur in the US last year.

He was hospitalised for two months with severe head cuts, a broken elbow and a big loss of blood.

“When I started playing again, I just felt so grateful to be breathing and out there playing golf. I could have easily died, and that actually helped me play better,” Zunic told

“The first six months there were some medical issues I had to get over.

“Once I got over them, I feel like it’s really built character for me and made me a little wiser.

“I know it was horrible at the time but I feel like it’s made me a stronger person. As my dad always says, everything happens for a reason.”

Zunic collected a winner’s cheque for $A164,000 and earns a two-year exemption on the Australasian PGA Tour.

Kristopher Mueck was third, three shots behind Zunic after a 69.

Fellow Australians Cameron Smith (66) and Brad Kennedy (68) tied for fourth, while countrymen Daniel Fox (64), Peter Fowler (66), Scott Arnold (67) and Aaron Pike (71) tied sixth.

Celtics in late NBA surge

The Indiana Pacers have put together a late-season surge to get into the Eastern Conference playoff picture.


The Boston Celtics look like they are doing the same thing.

Tyler Zeller scored 18 points to lead a balanced attack on Saturday night and the visiting Celtics made all the hustle plays down the stretch of a hard-fought 93-89 victory over the Pacers, who had their seven-game winning streak snapped.

“We’re having a lot of fun,” Zeller said. “We believe in ourselves.

“In the beginning of the year we lost a lot of these games.”

Avery Bradley, Brandon Bass and Jae Crowder added 16 points apiece for Boston (29-36), who have won a season-high four in a row to move within one-half game of Charlotte (29-35) for the final playoff spot in the East.

“These are the kind of games that I’ve always loved – just find a way,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.

George Hill scored a season-high 30 points with eight assists for Indiana (30-35), who have been the hottest team in the NBA.

The Pacers were 12th in the East six weeks ago but won 13 of their next 15 games to climb to seventh.

The Celtics have made a similar ascent.

They have shuffled players all season and were 12th three weeks ago but have won nine of 12 and are now tied for ninth with Miami.

“It’s amazing (how) he’s got them playing as well as they are with so much turnover,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said.

Elsewhere Golden State thrashed New York Knicks 125-94 as Klay Thompson scored 27 points and Stephen Curry added 25 and 11 assists for the league-leading Warriors, who have seven straight home games.

Italy’s Andrea Bargnani scored 18 points for the league-worst Knicks, who have lost six of seven.

The Washington Wizards enjoyed a 113-97 victory over the Sacramento Kings off the back of John Wall’s 31 points and 12 assists as the Wizards roared back from a 21-point deficit for their third straight win.

DeMarcus Cousins scored 30 points for the Kings.

Dante Exum had eight points as the Utah Jazz edged Detroit Pistons 88-85.

Memphis Grizzlies and Brooklyn Nets also enjoyed wins.

One catch could have changed our World Cup – Tauqir

It was the sixth loss of the World Cup for UAE, who demonstrated on several occasions they could play international standard cricket if they did not quite have the skill or class to put consistent pressure on their opponents.


They suffered just one humiliating loss, to India by nine wickets, but their mindset after that game appeared to be not to get embarrassed rather than attempting to beat the test nations.

Tauqir, however, felt that had Nasir Aziz taken a catch in the outfield off Ireland’s Kevin O’Brien, they might have been able to record their second victory at the World Cup after they beat the Netherlands by seven wickets in 1996.

O’Brien went on to score another 26 runs that helped Ireland to a two-wicket victory as they made 279 for eight with four balls to spare.

“Overall the whole tournament has been very, very special for the whole team,” Tauqir told reporters in Napier. “We really enjoyed the whole tournament.

“I think one moment that would have changed the game was I think Kevin O’Brien’s catch that got dropped. If that catch would have been taken, I think we would have definitely won that game.”

Tauqir singled out Shaiman Anwar’s batting as being a particular highlight for the team.

Anwar top-scored with 311 runs at 51.83 and at one stage after all of the teams had played four games, was the highest run scorer in the tournament.

Tauqir added the bowling had been good, though the majority of the batsmen had struggled and their fielding was not up to scratch.

“There were a few positives. I think overall our bowling department was pretty consistent in every game,” he said.

“I think it’s a little bit of fielding and the batting department that needs a bit of improvement.

“But we take a lot of positives from the whole event, and it was overall a good learning experience for us.”

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by John O’Brien)

Qld rollercoaster strands thrillseekers

Thirteen thrill-seekers got more than they bargained for when their Gold Coast rollercoaster broke down mid ride, stranding them for hours.


The Green Lantern attraction at Warner Bros Movie World came to an abrupt stop just before 1pm, leaving one carriage stuck precariously near the top of the ride.

Six people were trapped when the rollercoaster malfunctioned, stranding them for hours high above the ground.

Crews from Queensland Fire were called in to help with the rescue, and the stuck passengers were all safely rescued by about 4.30pm.

There were no injuries, but the six were taken to hospital for a medical clearance.

Earlier another seven people were in a second carriage when the roller-coaster stopped, but they were able to exit the ride via a nearby set of stairs.

The roller coaster will not be returned to use until engineers determine the source of the malfunction, described only as an “issue with a wheel” on the carriage.

“Warner Bros Movie World would like to offer its sincerest apologies to those guests that were involved,” the theme park said in a statement.

“The Green Lantern attraction is equipped with multiple safety redundancies to ensure the safety of all riders.

“Our team of engineers and technicians will investigate the cause of this mechanical issue before the ride is reopened.”

Witnesses said it appeared part of the wheel componentry had fallen off completely.

One witness described hearing a “big bang” as one of the carts rounded a bend on the upper level of the track.

Witnesses began posting about the incident on social media despite being discouraged from taking photos.

One witness, who was just about to join the ride’s queue, described the incident as her “worst fear come to life”.