Australia's third-largest city, Brisbane, was slowly being submerged as unrelenting floodwater swept down the Brisbane River, inundating thousands of homes and businesses, Reuters reported. The central business district in the city of two million people was “a watery ghost town of high-rise towers”, the news agency said. At least 16 people have been killed.
Flood disasters also struck Sri Lanka and Brazil. At least 18 people have died in Sri Lanka amid widespread flooding and mudslides caused by days of heavy rain, the Associated Press said. Nearly 200,000 people, mostly in Eastern province, now are living in camps after losing their homes. In Brazil, the AP reported, torrential rain tore through Rio de Janeiro’s mountains, killing at least 64 people in 24 hours as mud and water destroyed neighbourhoods.
The massive floods swamping north-eastern Australia – attributed to an unusually strong La Niña weather phenomenon – pose a threat to the Great Barrier Reef by pouring harmful debris and sediment into the sea, Agence France-Presse quoted a researcher in Queensland as saying. By stressing corals, the influx will affect the reef ecosystem’s resilience, Michelle Devlin said.
British-led conservationists plan to preserve and protect the world’s most important coral species, in a response to increasing threats that they say will lead to “functional extinction” within decades, The Guardian said. The 10 species identified as most at risk – from warmer seas, greater acidity, pollution and other causes – can be viewed here.
The US presidential panel investigating the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, in releasing its final report, said the disaster stemmed from a preventable series of corporate and regulatory failures, according to The New York Times. The group recommended new rules for offshore drilling and new spending for regulation; the congressional appetite for both is low.
Thousands of white South African farmers are leaving to work abroad because of land reforms, a shortage of affordable territory and severe water shortages, Agence France-Presse said. According to Agri South Africa (AgriSA), the national trade association, around 1,500 South Africans have established farms in 23 African countries – most of them in Mozambique – in the past decade. Another 4,000 have gone to Canada, Australia, South America and the Middle East.
Several Algerian towns that had experienced days of rioting returned to normal after a flare-up of unrest triggered by a sharp increase in food prices, Reuters reported. The Algerian government said it would reduce the cost of some consumer items and protect people from rising prices.
Venezuela warned mayors, governors and the country’s state-run companies to pay overdue electricity bills or face being cut off in a drive to stop waste and balance accounts, according to Reuters. Electricity minister Ali Rodriguez said the country was both South America’s top oil exporter and its highest per-capita energy consumer.
Singapore’s leaders realised 40 years ago that it is much more expensive for a society to live in a polluted environment than a clean one