New Delhi: At least 15 people were killed and dozens injured when an Air India Express passenger plane overshot the runway and broke into two after landing in the southern city of Calicut in heavy rain on Friday, officials said.
The Boeing-737 flight from Dubai was flying home Indians who had been stranded overseas due to the coronavirus pandemic. There were 190 passengers and crew on board, the civil aviation ministry said in a statement. Among them were 10 infants.
Television footage showed rescue workers moving around the wreckage in pouring rain. The aircraft lay split into at least two chunks after the plane’s fuselage sheared apart as it fell into a valley below, authorities said.
Local media reports suggested that the plane skidded off a runway, crashing nose-first into the ground.
The Kerala state police chief said at least 15 people had been killed, with at least four passengers stuck the wreckage.
The civil aviation ministry said in a statement there was no fire on board.
Local TV news channels showed passengers, some of them lying motionless on stretchers, brought into a hospital surrounded by health workers wearing masks because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Air India Express AXB1344 was a repatriation flight operated by the government to bring Indians home during international travel restrictions due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. Millions of Indians work in the Gulf.
“Pained by the plane accident in Kozhikode,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, referring to Calicut’s new name. “My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones. May the injured recover at the earliest.”
Washington: The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, the territory’s current and former police chiefs and eight other officials for their role in curtailing political freedoms in the territory.
The sanctions were imposed under an executive order US President Donald Trump signed last month to punish China for its moves against dissent in Hong Kong. They are the latest action by the Trump administration against Beijing in the run-up to the November US presidential election.
As well as Lam, the sanctions target Hong Kong Police commissioner Chris Tang and his predecessor Stephen Lo; John Lee Ka-chiu, Hong Kong’s secretary of security, and Teresa Cheng, the justice secretary, the US Treasury Department said in a statement.
It said Beijing’s imposition of draconian national security legislation had undermined Hong Kong’s autonomy and allowed mainland security services to operate with impunity, “setting the groundwork for censorship of any individuals or outlets that are deemed unfriendly to China.”
“Carrie Lam is the Chief Executive directly responsible for implementing Beijing’s policies of suppression of freedom and democratic processes,” it said.
Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said in the statement that the US “stands with the people of Hong Kong”.
The sanctions freeze any US asset of the officials and generally bar Americans from doing business with them.
Tensions between the United States and China have been increasing daily. China’s foreign ministry said on Friday it firmly opposes executive orders that Trump announced this week to ban US transactions with the Chinese owners of the WeChat and TikTok apps.
Last month, Carrie Lam postponed a September 6 election to Hong Kong’s legislature by a year because of a rise in coronavirus cases, dealing a blow to the pro-democracy opposition that had hoped to make huge gains.
The United States condemned the action, saying it was the latest example of Beijing undermining democracy in the Chinese-ruled territory.
A source familiar with the matter said US deliberations on the sanctions intensified after the election postponement.
The Queensland border slammed shut to anyone from New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory, in a bid to stop travellers using interstate loopholes to get into the state.
As of 1am on Saturday, anyone who has come from these three areas will be turned around at the border and any Queensland residents trying to come home can only arrive by air and must pay the $2800 cost for their two-week stay in hotel COVID-19 quarantine.
Victoria continues to grapple with a COVID-19 outbreak and NSW is recording small numbers of new daily cases. Meanwhile, the ACT was included in the new restrictions because a man allegedly drove from Sydney to Canberra before flying on to Cairns, via Brisbane.
Gold Coast Police Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said Queensland residents had poured back across the border in recent days in the lead up to the hard border closure.
Traffic delays at the Gold Coast border checkpoint on Friday afternoon exceeded an hour.
Police were also kept busy ensuring nobody who visited an already-declared COVID-19 hotspot in greater Sydney or Victoria, slipped through the net.
Between 4pm on Wednesday and 4pm on Thursday, 54 interstate arrivals were ordered into hotel quarantine after visiting a known hotspot and that continued into Friday.
Chief Superintendent Wheeler said a 78-year-old man was questioned on a bus trying to cross the Gold Coast border checkpoint on Friday and it was discovered he recently visited Sydney, so he was ordered into self-funded mandatory two weeks’ hotel quarantine.
There are two main exemptions available — an F pass for freight workers and an X pass for border community residents. Apart from that, “exemptions will be few and far between”, police said.
Chief Superintendent Wheeler said those moving freight were allowed to cross the borders under “tight restrictions” and those workers were asked to get tested for COVID-19 every seven days.
A border bubble has been created to help those communities either side of the Queensland-NSW border still be able to access essential services, such as medical appointments.
It encompasses the Tweed Heads Shire Council area and Gold Coast City Council boundaries, with included residents allowed to move within those two areas, but no further.
“If you reside in a border zone, you are free to travel across the border to the Gold Coast City Council area, but you cannot go any further than that,” Chief Superintendent Wheeler said.
“If you reside in Tweed Heads and you decide to go to Byron Bay for a surf, you then are not able to come [back] into Queensland.”
Meanwhile, exemptions have also been put in place for specialist workers and construction workers.
“Specialist workers may include people in law enforcement, the military and people who hold government official jobs,” Chief Superintendent Wheeler said.
“Construction workers who live within the bubble – for instance a Tweed Head builder – may, under certain circumstances, be able to go outside the Gold Coast City Council area.
“The only time you [a construction worker] can actually leave the current bubble zone is someone who lives in the Tweed, they’re a builder and they’re doing some essential construction in Brisbane.
“They would be able to go to Brisbane. However, there would be very strict conditions around that.”
Chief Superintendent Wheeler implored those contemplating crossing the interstate boundaries to read the state government’s FAQ information sheet.
“It’s really important people get their heads around this,” he said.
“I know it is complex, I know there are a lot of moving parts in this, we will be patient, but people need to also be patient and keep up with the announcements.”
Toby Crockford is a breaking news reporter at the Brisbane Times
Contact tracers are hunting for the source of a string of COVID-19 cases unknowingly spreading the virus among Sydney’s restaurants and pubs, as the government faces mounting pressure to tighten restrictions on the high risk venues.
The next several days will prove pivotal in determining the extent of the fallout from a busy weekend for three men aged in their 20s infectious with COVID-19 who visited 17 venues between them in Sydney’s inner-west, the CBD, the western suburbs and Newcastle.
NSW recorded 11 new COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday. It was a trickle compared with Victoria’s 450 cases and 11 deaths, taking the national toll to 266.
In Sydney and Newcastle, hundreds of diners, revellers and shoppers have been directed to self-isolate and watch for symptoms after potentially being exposed to one of the infectious men.
The most serious exposure risk was at Jambo Jambo African Restaurant in Glebe between 7pm and 8.30pm on July 31 where all present are considered to be close contacts of one of the men, and told to get tested even if they have no symptoms.
The willingness of all contacts to come forward for testing in line with NSW Health advice will be crucial for contact tracers to detect the extent of any spread and contain it.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said the main concern is how the man who attended the Glebe restaurant caught the virus. He is one of eight cases with no known links to clusters or confirmed cases this week – a sign the virus is spreading undetected.
“I’m extremely concerned about these cases,” Dr Chant said, “because I don’t know where they got [the virus] from and I don’t know what other chain of transmission we don’t know about.”
“That is the part that causes me the most anxiety,” she said.
The mystery cases have contact tracers stumped as they try to discover how they were infected and who else has been exposed.
One such case is a woman in her 60s from south-west Sydney who was reported on Friday.
Dr Chant was buoyed by the high numbers of people getting tested. A total of 27,937 tests were carried out in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday.
“If we don’t have the community coming forward for testing we can’t break those chains of transmission,” she said.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian this week urged the public to cut back on their socialising as NSW faces the next critical few weeks in its defence against the virus.
The message was aimed at young people in particular, with the 20 to 29-year-olds age group accounting for the largest proportion of transmissions.
There has been no suggestion the men broke any rules or flouted social distancing restrictions, and Dr Chant stressed the advice was “not about attributing blame”.
On Friday, acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said the majority of deaths may be in the elderly, “but young people are getting infected, young people are transmitting the virus and young people sometimes are also experiencing the severe end of the spectrum of the disease.”
Earlier this week, Australia recorded its youngest COVID-19 death – a 33-year-old Victorian man.
Infectious diseases physician and professor at the Kirby Institute UNSW, Greg Dore, said the state government had the capacity to modify the community’s behaviour by closing high risk venues.
“A four-week closure of pubs, clubs, and restaurants, through to early spring, would be economically more advantageous than a longer closure due to rising infections, that could extend until summer,” Professor Dore said.
“We have benefited enormously from the excellence and commitment of NSW Health, but the increasing number of exposed venues and individuals undermines their capacity to test-trace-isolate our way out of the current renewed spread.”
Australian Medical Association (AMA) NSW president Dr Danielle McMullen said the state government must tighten restrictions on indoor gatherings at pubs, clubs and restaurants including limiting the size of groups and stricter enforcement of regulations.
“We’ve all walked past cafes and restaurants or pubs with crowded tables and people sitting close together,” Dr McMullen said.
“These are risky places because people are sitting for long periods of time together and may be drinking alcohol … We recognise that there is a balance between public health and the economic risk and health consequences of a shutdown or economic turndown but our first priority must be keeping people safe from COVID.”
Dr Chant said NSW Health has deemed restaurants, pubs and bars “high risk environments” for the spread of COVID-19 and the decision to introduce tougher restrictions was a matter for the government.
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A senior Department of Jobs official has been removed from their role as evidence mounts that the decision to use private security guards at Melbourne’s quarantine hotels was partly driven by a well-meaning attempt to provide jobs under “social inclusion” policies.
A leaked email from another public servant, the department’s deputy secretary for inclusion, also paints a picture of how rushed the implementation was, describing “heroic efforts” over a weekend in late March as bureaucrats became “expert in the delivery of hotel concierge services”.
The revelations will increase pressure on the Andrews government over whether it put too much emphasis on finding jobs for marginalised Victorians without ensuring that those guarding hotel guests were trained in infection control and supervised by authorised officers.
A spokesman for the Victorian Department of Jobs denied that job creation was the main driver: “Supporting an effective quarantine program was the department’s motivation, not job creation.”
Infection outbreaks among security guards at two quarantine hotels in Melbourne are widely believed to be responsible for the state’s second devastating wave of coronavirus, which has killed dozens of people and put hundreds of thousands out of work.
The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald can now reveal that officials in the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions employment division and its international trade agency, Global Victoria, were responsible for engaging private security firms for hotel quarantine on the weekend of March 28 and 29. They also had an ongoing role overseeing the quarantine operation.
The task of contracting the security firms was given to the department’s executive director of employment, whom The Age and Herald have chosen not to name. The official has since been replaced by two acting directors on the latest version of the department’s organisation chart. The officer has retained their senior role at the department.
Media reports from 2013 reveal the official had professional dealings with the Sydney-based security company given much of the hotel quarantine work, Unified Security, in their previous role as general manager of work and learning at the Brotherhood of St Laurence.
The charity and Unified established a partnership in 2012 to provide security training and jobs for marginalised people. The official also did some work with Unified in 2019 in finding a small number of positions under a Jobs Victoria project.
As an Indigenous-owned company, Unified satisfies the government’s criteria for contracts under its social inclusion procurement policy. It won the security contract for Metro Trains last year and specifically referred to its Brotherhood of St Laurence partnership in briefing documents supplied to government.
A Monday March 30 email written by the department’s deputy secretary for inclusion, David Clements, refers to the rush to get arrangements in place to handle returning travellers over the weekend. Mandatory 14-day quarantines had been authorised the previous Friday by national cabinet.
“I have had a crazy weekend, getting roped in to helping with arrangements for ‘standing up’ the hotels accommodating passengers returning from overseas for their 14 days of quarantine,” Mr Clements wrote in the email.
“Suffice to say there have been some heroic efforts from numerous of your colleagues across DJPR to make this happen – including from [the executive director of employment] who is now an expert on contracting hotel security; the Global Victoria team who are now expert in the delivery of hotel concierge services.”
The revelation of Global Victoria’s role in hotel quarantine raises further questions for the government because the agency has no experience in security or public health measures. Global Victoria manages Victoria’s trade relationships and international marketing.
The hotel quarantine inquiry will examine the decision-making process that led to the hiring of security firms – and questions will be asked about who decided the Department of Jobs be given responsibility for contracting security providers and overseeing the rollout.
Premier Daniel Andrews on Thursday said he was unable to explain how the decision to rely on private security guards was made and Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said on Friday he had found out about “rumours and reporting around deficiencies with the workforce … when I read it in the newspapers”.
The rushed procurement process to find guards for hotel quarantine resulting in contracts being awarded to three security companies: Wilson, MSS and Unified.
The appointment of Unified proved controversial because, unlike Wilson and MSS, it was not on the government’s preferred panel of security suppliers. Despite this, Unified ended up doing the bulk of the hotel quarantine work. All three companies had to rely on sub-contractors to supply their guards – some of whom were recruited via WhatsApp messages – at short notice.
In early April, well before COVID-19 began crippling Victoria, Mr Andrews and Jobs Coordination Minister Martin Pakula released a media statement highlighting the government’s role in creating jobs for 1300 Victorians whose employment prospects had worsened due to the global pandemic.
The press release specifically referred to 450 jobs being created in the hotel quarantine program “including transport operations, security and cleaning”. International students and temporary migrants were key targets under the jobs program.
Private security companies, including Unified, were also used in NSW hotel quarantine, but private security guards in Sydney were overseen by police or Border Force officials in each hotel. In Victoria, the government decided against using police or defence force personnel, and there remains considerable confusion in public service ranks and security companies about which department had ultimate responsibility.
The Age and Herald have previously revealed leaked emails in which officials from Emergency Management Victoria requested the Department of Health and Human Services to get police involved in hotel quarantine in late March amid doubts about the preparedness of private security operators.
Some senior police at that time were privately frustrated Victoria has not been declared a state of disaster by Mr Andrews.
Such a declaration would have empowered police as the state’s authorised officers to lead crucial aspects of the pandemic response instead of those powers remaining with health department officials under the less serious state of emergency provisions.
Mr Andrews declared a state of disaster recently when Melbourne was moved onto stage four restrictions.
The inquiry into hotel quarantine led by former state coroner Jennifer Coate will begin public hearings later this month. Ms Coate will deliver her report in November.
Rank and file Labor members are calling for an internal ombudsman to stamp out corruption inside the party in the wake of the biggest branch-stacking scandal to engulf the Victorian branch of the ALP.
Members have demanded greater transparency as well as long-lasting change, and believe problems inside the party are “significant”, after The Age and 60 Minutes revealed Victorian ministers, ministerial advisers and electorate officers were allegedly involved in “industrial-scale” branch-stacking.
Following the investigation, Premier Daniel Andrews called for a national intervention into the Victorian branch of the ALP, which is now being overhauled and internally probed by Labor elders Steve Bracks and Jenny Macklin.
In late June, Mr Bracks and Ms Macklin asked Victorian party members what reforms they should prioritise, the rules that needed to change, the cultural changes needed, and how the party should operate under administrators.
More than 460 members and groups responded, with a vast majority angry about what the investigation uncovered, according to an internal report the administrators sent to Labor members on Friday.
There was an “unambiguous” call for greater democratisation of the party, with members believing some groups and factions had a disproportionate power over decision-making. Many also lamented the “parachuting” of candidates into electorates.
“It was clear that members believe that the problems within the party are significant, that they want lasting change, and are broadly supportive of the decision to appoint the administrators, as well as the decision to scrutinise memberships (both past and present),” the report states.
“There was resounding anger among members in respect of the revelations of branch-stacking and the damage this has caused to Labor’s public standing. To this end, a significant volume of members called for punitive action against those involved, such as expulsion from the party, as well as remedial steps to ensure that branch-stacking, and other improper conduct, cannot re-occur.
“Suggestions to prevent this conduct included … rolling audits and an independent party ombudsman.”
Although the responses were wide-ranging, Mr Bracks and Ms Macklin identified eight key themes: the need to eradicate corruption and branch-stacking; appointment of administrators being a necessary step; role of factions; need for greater transparency; need for democratisation of the party; membership processes; the role and composition of branches; and party culture.
Labor’s Victorian headquarters were the subject of much criticism, with many members concerned about the lack of transparency at the administration level.
“Members believed that appointments within head office were not always made on merit and that head office was disconnected from local branches and rank and file members,” the report stated.
“Decisions of the administrative committee were seen to be shrouded in secrecy and removed from the broader membership.”
The Age and 60 Minutes in June revealed cabinet minister Adem Somyurek handed over thousands of dollars in secret cash drop-offs and used political advisers to stack branches with fake members in a bid to amass significant political power inside the party.
The revelations are being investigated by the Victorian Ombudsman and Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission.
Mr Somyurek was leader of the powerful Moderates faction, and in a tussle with internal rivals, which escalated late last year.
Labor members broadly linked factionalism to branch-stacking, and many believed it did more harm than good, according to the update Mr Bracks and Ms Macklin sent to members on Friday.
“[They also] expressed concern in respect of both the secrecy that surrounds factional groups and the power that these groups wield,” the report stated.
“Members were aware of the stabilising role factions played historically, however, most believed that the current state of factionalism represented a significant problem that needed to be addressed.”
Sumeyya is a state political reporter for The Age.
David Fifita has that right knee heavily strapped in his first match for more than four months. Believe it or not, his last game was against the Rabbitohs in round two before the COVID-19 season suspension.
It feels like he’s never been anywhere though given the column inches devoted to his on-again-off-again contract saga with the Titans. He’s looked pretty solid so far.
But little Tom Dearden has been a shining light for Brisbane at No.7 so far. He looks a real talent this teenager.
Now I’d really love to see Wayne Cam.
Little Tom Dearden sets up a Broncos break and then on the subsequent play Darius Boyd tips the ball on to Herbie Farnworth and he races over untouched. If Anthony Seibold was looking for a response, he’s got one pretty quickly. Kotoni Staggs was super scrambling to get a loose ball in the lead-up.
The Brisbane centre adds the extra from out wide, too. South Sydney’s lead cut to 8-6 now. This is shaping as a pretty good contest in the wet.
Reynolds adds to Rabbitohs’ lead
South Sydney have added to their lead after Brodie Croft is penalised for running Cameron Murray off his line as he raced down to contest an Adam Reynolds bomb. In fairness, Reynolds was decked by Tevita Pangai jnr late after he kicked and could have won a penalty for that himself.
Anyways, the little No.7 pots an easy conversion. South Sydney lead 8-0 after 17 minutes.
Anyone figured out how to stream Wayne in his lounge room yet?
The Rabbitohs have struck first, Dane Gagai sliding over after Cody Walker and Latrell Mitchell combine on the left. That was a little too easy and a little too predictable. I think we’ve seen this movie before.
Adam Reynolds nails the extras from the sideline and the Rabbitohs lead 6-0 after a mistake-riddled 15 minutes.
South Sydney captain hot and cold
I don’t know what Adam Reynolds did today, but it seems like he’s playing under a full moon. He’s kicked out on the full, skilfully forced a line dropout with the perfect wet weather kick and then dropped the ball cold with his side deep on the attack.
Crazy, crazy stuff after a crazy, crazy couple of days.
Do you reckon Wayne has hurled the remote at the TV yet?
Reynolds makes rare error
Well, how often do you see that?
The Rabbitohs are sloppy in their first attacking set, Adam Reynolds is kicking from his own 20-metre line and skews it out on the full. Huge early chance for the Broncos, but Kotoni Staggs is bundled into touch by Dane Gagai and Alex Johnston.
Underway in the second match of the night. Latrell Mitchell kicks off for the Rabbitohs.
Bennett at home for pivotal Rabbitohs clash
Now we switch to the second game of a huge Friday night doubleheader with the Wayne Bennett-less Rabbitohs about to host the Broncos. David Fifita and Matt Lodge back from injury for Brisbane, but they’re still underdogs.
Oh how I wish we had Wayne Cam from his lounge room tonight. I wonder what he’s eating for dinner? Whatever it is, he’s already $20,000 out of pocket for the day.
The Warriors have done it.
That has to be one of the most gutsiest wins of the year. I know Manly had an injury list as long as your arm, but the Warriors have had two players sent to the sin bin and are now only two points outside the top eight with a 26-22 win at Lottoland, crashing the celebrations for Des Hasler’s 400th game as an NRL head coach.
What a great story developing with the NRL underdogs.
Waddell drops it
And they’ve blown it. Corey Waddell has spilled the ball off an awkward Cade Cust pass. They might only get one more possession. The Warriors on the brink of their first back-to-back wins of the year.
Love this “behind closed doors” insight. Phil Davis presents Xavier O’Halloran with his jumper.
Will tonight’s game come down to a match-winning goal? Relive Josh Daicos’ stunner against Sydney last night for Collingwood, which had his dad Peter written all over it.
Meet the debutant: Xavier O’Halloran
According to the Giants’ website: “A hard-running midfielder, Xavier O’Halloran is an exceptional leader, captaining the Victorian Metro team at the 2018 NAB Under-18 National Championships.”
“From TAC Cup side the Western Jets, he has the combination of speed and endurance as a midfielder and has also shown flexibility in playing forward as well as through the middle.
“O’Halloran comes from a strong football pedigree with his late grandfather Ron McCarthy playing 42 games for Footscray, including the Bulldogs’ 1954 premiership.”
Wet weather footy?
The rain has stopped but who will be best suited to tonight’s conditions? The Bombers are meeting the Giants at a good time with Toby Greene a huge out.
No late changes
Essendon have brought in four players from last week’s loss to Brisbane.
Conor McKenna has returned after he sat out of the senior match last week due to homesickness and motivation issues. Kyle Langford, Matt Guelfi and Shaun McKernan have also been selected.
Brayden Ham, Martin Gleeson, Ned Cahill and Tom Bellchambers have all been omitted.
The Giants have made three changes to the team that beat Gold Coast.
Matt de Boer (injured), Toby Greene (injured) and Sam Jacobs (managed) have gone out of the team with Callan Ward, Shame Mumford and Xavier O’Halloran coming in.
Good evening and welcome to The Age’s coverage of tonight’s clash between Essendon and GWS Giants. Damien Ractlife here to guide you through the night.
It’s set to be a big clash between two teams desperate to make an impression this season.
AFL Grand Final venue remains in limbo
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan says he is unable to be definitive about where this year’s AFL grand final will be played after a report that Western Australia had made a formal bid to host the 2020 decider, writes Peter Ryan and Anthony Colangelo.
A WA government spokesperson said on Friday that the AFL grand final was not a priority for the state, but the government maintained their position that Optus Stadium was “the best place for a grand final if that’s what the AFL decided”.
Tigers accused of groping teammate
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick abruptly cut short his press conference on Friday amid allegations two of his players had groped a teammate, writes Jon Pierik.
Network Ten senior reporter Hugh Riminton questioned Hardwick about two recent post-match incidents in the Tigers’ dressing room, after wins over the Western Bulldogs and Brisbane Lions.
AFL warns of big fines for metal studs breaches
The AFL has put players and clubs on notice over the use of illegal metal studs, as it emerged the boots which caused the gruesome injury to Collingwood young gun Isaac Quaynor are widely worn through the competition, writes Andrew Wu.
Sydney has escaped sanction from the AFL but the league’s football operations boss Steve Hocking has written to all clubs, warning they risked a fine of up to $40,000 if they do not comply with regulations.