FIRE has caused millions of dollars worth of damage to the historic Zig Zag railway in the NSW Blue Mountains.
Ten carriages, accommodation carriages, historic sleeping carriages, a meeting room, workshop, office and sleepers were ruined by the fire which tore through the area between Lithgow and the western side of the Blue Mountains over Thursday and Friday.
The cost of the damage is estimated at up to $4 million, Zig Zag Railway board member Alexander Robinson-Mills told AAP.
“We’ve suffered quite a significant amount of damage,” he said.
The tourist attraction has been closed since June last year for safety upgrades and had been “close” to reopening, Mr Robinson Mills said.
It would now be up to a year before it was ready to carry passengers again, he said.
“We have carriages which aren’t so damaged … as soon as we’re right to work in the shed again, when it’s been rebuilt, we’ll be looking at restoring those carriages.”
He said it was a second blow for the railway, which was damaged by heavy rain and landslips over February and March.
The world’s oldest clipper ship has been renamed City of Adelaide at a ceremony in London overseen by the Duke of Edinburgh.
The City of Adelaide was built in 1864 and carried migrants to South Australia in the late 19th century.
In the 1920s she was renamed HMS Carrick and used as a navy training ship in Scotland, and was left there to rot until a restoration project began.
During the ceremony, Prince Philip bestowed the sailing ship’s original name back upon her.
After a long battle the clipper is now returning to Adelaide via London.
It is hoped it will be back in Australia early next year.
Federal support had been held up since the change of government in Canberra, but now has been finalised.
This diagram shows the orbit of asteroid 2013 TV135 (in blue), which has just a one-in-63,000 chance of impacting Earth in 2032. Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA to launch asteroid ‘lasso’ 3:27
Watch the atmospheric animation of NASA’s new mission: to lasso an asteroid, take samples from it and return them to earth.
A LARGE asteroid has been discovered zipping past Earth that astronomers say is dangerous and will return on August 26, 2032.
“A 400-metre asteroid is threatening to blow up the Earth,” Russian vice-premier Dmitry Rogozin, in charge of his nation’s space research, wrote on his Twitter account.
“Here is a super target for the national cosmonautics.”
The asteroid was discovered by astronomers in the Ukraine on Saturday who promptly named it 2013 TV135.
ASTEROID HEADING TOWARDS NEW YORK? YOU’D BETTER PRAY – NASA
AUSTRALIAN INVENTS ASTEROID WRAP THAT COULD SAVE WORLD
The astronomers said they discovered the asteroid was approaching Earth at a potentially dangerous trajectory, RIA Novosti reported. They calculated the potential collision date – with a force as powerful as two thousand atomic bombs – but acknowledged that the odds of an impact are 1 in 63,000.
NASA said in a statement, named “A reality check”, that it was 99.998 per cent certain that when it heads back around the planet in 2032 it will sail past again.
“This is a relatively new discovery,” said Don Yeomans, manager of NASA’s NEO Program. “With more observations, I fully expect we will be able to significantly reduce, or rule out entirely, any impact probability for the foreseeable future.”
Until further investigation by NASA, the asteroid has a danger rating of 1 out of a possible 10 on the Torino Impact Hazard Scale, the system that gauges the danger of impact destruction by asteroids, CNN reported
The 1 rating means that it poses “no unusual level of danger.”
NASA said the asteroid 2013 TV135 “came within 6.7 million kilometres” of Earth – about 20 times as far away from Earth as the moon.
That pales in comparison to the closest shave the Earth has had from an asteroid its size in recorded history.
Asteroid 2012 DA14 passes Earth safely 0:45
The small near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14 passed very close to Earth on Feb. 15, 2013, as NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office, Jet Propulsion Laboratory explains
On February 15, asteroid 2012 DA14, which was 50m long and weighed 200,000 tonnes, passed around 27,000 kilometres above the Earth.
Two behemoths will pass by Earth in the next three months at similar distances as 2013 TV135.
In November, an asteroid that NASA believes to be two-to-three kilometres wide, will pass at a distance of 19 million kilometres, and in January, another large one will come as close as 8 million kilometres from the planet.
NASA believes that neither will hit Earth.
LATEST NEWS ON THE NSW BUSHFIRES
THE defence department has launched an investigation into whether a large bushfire at Lithgow on the western side of the NSW Blue Mountains was caused by training activity.
Defence confirmed today that an investigation is underway into the State Mine fire that started on Wednesday, the same day explosive ordnance training was taking place at the Marrangaroo training area.
“Defence is investigating if the two events are linked,” it said in a statement.
“The ongoing investigation… will review both the incident and Defence procedures.”
Meanwhile, firefighters continue to race against time to gain the upper hand on bushfires in the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Southern Highlands as calmer, cooler weather provides a window of opportunity.
But the danger is far from over, Rural Fire Service Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers says.
Bushfire ravaged Singles Ridge Road, Yellow Rock. Picture: Cameron Richardson
Mr Rogers described today’s conditions as a “pause” but said worsening conditions lay ahead with higher temperatures and increasing winds forecast by Sunday.So far, more than 300 properties in the lower Blue Mountains have been damaged or destroyed by bushfires, the NSW Rural Fire Service says.
After assessing 95 per cent of the fireground in Springwood and Winmalee the RFS has been able to establish that 193 properties have been destroyed and 109 have been damaged.
That number could change following more investigations involving other fire-hit areas.
On Friday the Insurance Council of Australia said there had already been 550 claims totalling $30 million, with the number expected to rise sharply.
At 9am this morning, the RFS reported there were 83 fires burning across the state including 19 uncontained blazes.
“We have more than 500km of fire perimeter at the moment … we’re by no means out of the woods,” Mr Rogers told ABC radio. “It’s just calmed down a little bit and obviously we’re bracing ourselves for these worsening conditions.”
West of the Blue Mountains the RFS is concerned about a fire in Lithgow which is burning over 28,000 hectares and could tear through the mountains if the wind changes direction.
A fire at Winmalee, where 81 houses have so far been confirmed lost and 37 damaged, is also unlikely to be contained ahead of the changing conditions.
A 10,000 hectare fire in Balmoral remained active after crossing multiple roads, Mr Rogers said.
In Wyong, the threat to properties has reduced after a fire at Ruttleys Road burnt more than 2500 hectares and caused the death of a 63-year-old man who suffered a heart attack defending his home.
“What we have is a time for the crews to anticipate the weather coming ahead and try and get as much containment as possible and prevent that fire threatening major population centres when we get worse weather,” Mr Rogers said.
A house completely destroyed on St Georges Parade in Mt Victoria was called “Sunnyside”.
The RFS will also provide revised numbers of homes lost, he said.Prime Minister Tony Abbott and NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell today announced bushfire affected communities will have access to disaster assistance.
Nineteen local council areas can now apply for relief with more expected to be announced in coming days.
“A very high level of threat still continues for many communities around NSW and emergency services and support agencies are working around the clock to contain these threats,” Mr Abbott and Mr O’Farrell said in a joint statement.
“While the extreme weather has eased, the threat for many communities is not yet over.”
Conditions on Sunday are expected to worsen, becoming drier with temperatures in the low 30s but the winds aren’t predicted to pick up.
Meteorologists believe no rain will fall over the weekend but showers could develop along the Victorian border on Monday.
From Wednesday light showers are predicted for the central and southern coasts.
Cloud is expected to form early next week, which would drop temperatures and increase the chance of rain, the BoM spokesman said.
“Cloud is good, always good,” he said.
Lucas Magennis, 18, with his father Michael and mother Julie beside their Winmalee home, which was totally destroyed by fire yesterday.
A COMMUNITY IN RUINS – 100 HOMES LOST IN THE BLUE MOUNTAINS
TAYLOR AUERBACH in Yellow Rock and BEN MCCLELLAN in Mount Victoria
THE streets reveal a disaster of unimaginable proportions.
Most residents who returned yesterday to the wasteland of burnt trees and the ash-covered shells of vehicles were beyond tears, using words such as “numb” and “shocked” to describe their emotions.
Dozens of prized homes had been replaced by jagged piles of smoking rubble, while in many cases manicured lawns remain untouched out front.
Stephanie Burton, 16, overcome with emotion as she returns to Yellow Rock in the Blue Mountains / Picture: Renee Nowytarger
Tarnie Horner looks where her room once was in Yellow Rock / Picture: Renee Nowytarger
Yellow Rock, near Springwood, was at the epicentre of an inferno that destroyed 1400ha of Blue Mountains bushland. Emergency workers fear more than 100 homes have been lost.
Pat Minney (blue shirt) and son Jake, 15 as they see their home that was destroyed in Winmalee.
But only a 12-year-old cat and Cody the eight-year-old alaskan malamute are missing – presumed dead – somewhere in the desolate animal graveyard of carcasses that line the roads.
Residents feared a similar fate for one elderly man who was missing. On Thursday night police said they were dealing with a fatality and the entire township was turned into an official crime scene.
Anja Minney stands in front of her house that was totaly destroyed at Winmalee.
But Gordon Pendlebury, a well-known Purvines Rd character, was later found safe at Springwood Sports Club.Leanne Burton was at home when the fire struck. The first she knew about the danger was when she got a text message from her son Adam shortly after 2pm to say his school had gone into lockdown.
A burnt out car sits in front of a house destroyed by bushfires in Winmalee / Picture: AFP/Greg WOOD
Within minutes the flames were threatening her building.Suddenly a neighbour’s four-year-old ran screaming towards her door. “I grabbed him, started driving down the street and I honestly thought I was going to die,” she said.
“There were fires all over me. The only way I got out was by following the telegraph poles, I couldn’t see the road.”
Evangeline Love returns to her house destroyed by bushfire in Winmalee with her son Jomei and brother-in-law Ruben Love.
We’ve got the best firefighters in the world 1:30
Shane Fitzsimmons, the Commissioner of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service became emotional when talking about the work of firefighters of NSW.
By the time the first warning text message from the NSW Rural Fire Service arrived, at 2.56pm, Mrs Burton had already left – and her house was gone.
Andrew New has lived in the mountains for 51 years.
“This is the worst fire I’ve seen,” he says. “It’s wiped out a whole community. This is devastation – a catastrophe.”
Trees have been replaced by black splinters. Absurdly, the leaves on top of them are still green.
“It didn’t crown,” confirms every local you ask.
About 50km west at Mount Victoria, a van was packed with cages of dead animals; gas continued to burn in the remains of one destroyed home; and a smouldering compost heap emitted heavy smoke a on St Georges Pde.
An aerial picture in the Springwood, Winmalee area showing burnt houses and properties.
It was clear that the firefighters and homeowners never had a chance of overcoming the flames. The fire – under control yesterday afternoon, although it continued to burn north of the town – had ripped through Mount York Rd, St Georges Pde and the Darling Causeway in the rural hamlet, destroying a dozen homes and numerous vehicles.Mick Corrigan, who stayed behind despite threats by firefighters to call the police to remove him, saved his home and his neighbour’s home.
Resident Sean Butler stands in front of his 1958 bus after fighting a fire / Picture: AAP/Dean Lewins
He says a couple up the road was forced to abandon the van full of animals.”They lost all their chickens. They had their cats in the van when it exploded,” he said.
“It (the heat) was intense.
“I feel really burnt, hot, my eyes felt like they’ve got a welding flash out of it.
“I could hardly breathe.”
Those whose houses survived were offering their neighbours food, clothing and a place to sleep.
Fire rages in the Catherine Hill Bay area / Picture Waide Maguire.
A photo taken on August 31, 2013 in The Hague shows United Nations inspectors arriving in a van at the headquarters of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). AFP Photo
Greek Cyprus said on Friday that it has approved the establishment of a support base on the Mediterranean island for chemical weapons inspectors deployed in war-hit Syria.
“The Council of Ministers has ratified the agreement between the Republic of Cyprus and the UN-OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) for the establishment of a support base of the joint mission of UN-OPCW,” said a government statement.
Greek Cyprus said it would facilitate the “safe presence and conduct of the activities of the joint mission”.
A support base has been created within the UN-controlled buffer zone at Nicosia’s disused airport from where inspectors will travel to and from Syria, some 220 kilometres away.
“The decision by the United Nations for the establishment of a support base of the mission in Greek Cyprus demonstrates the stabilising and upgraded role of Cyprus in the region,” said the statement.
Earlier this month UN chief Ban Ki-moon called for the establishment of a “staging area and support base” for 100 staff in Greek Cyprus.
In a letter addressed to the UN Security Council, Ban also said Greek Cyprus would be home to the fundraising wing of the chemical weapons operation.
Greek Cyprus was used as a staging post for Iraqi weapons inspectors a decade ago.
Greece seeks international help to identify four-year-old blonde girl found living in Roma camp
The child was found on Wednesday near Farsala in central Greece during a nationwide crackdown on illegal activities by Roma. Photo: EPA
An international appeal has been launched by Greece to help identify a four-year-old blonde girl who was allegedly snatched from her parents by a couple with whom she was found living in a Gipsy settlement
Police are trying to establish why the girl was living with the couple, who are also accused of falsifying identity and family certificates – with the mother claiming to have given birth to six children within a total of less than 10 months.
The child was found on Wednesday near Farsala in central Greece during a nationwide crackdown on illegal activities by Roma, also known as Gipsies. Police say they also found drugs and unregistered firearms in other parts of the settlement, which is about 170 miles north of Athens.
But the blonde, pale-skinned and blue-eyed girl stood out. She bore no resemblance to the Greek couple, a 39-year-old man and a 40-year-old woman, who were arrested and charged with abducting a minor. Police said DNA testing confirmed that they weren’t related.
“Her features suggest that she might be from an eastern or northern (European) country,” regional police chief Panayiotis Tzavaras said.
Police have notified Interpol for assistance.
The suspects allegedly offered conflicting accounts – that the girl was found in a blanket, was handed to them by strangers or had a foreign father.
The police statement said the couple claimed to have a total 14 children, and had registered different numbers with authorities in three different parts of Greece. Officers found three minors living with them in the settlement who appear to be their children – although that hasn’t yet been verified by DNA testing.
The girl is in the care of the charity “A child’s smile,” which said it had sought the assistance of European and global groups for lost or abused children in tracking her parents.
Charity director Costas Giannopoulos said the child was undergoing medical examinations.
“We are shocked by how easy it is for people to register children as their own,” he told private Skai TV. “There is much more to investigate, there are other registered children that were not found in the settlement, and I believe police will unravel a thread that doesn’t just have to do with the girl.”
Αφίσα για την υπόθεση του τετράχρονου ξανθού κοριτσιού που βρέθηκε σε οικισμό Ρομά στα Φάρσαλα και που σύμφωνα με τα αποτελέσματα εξετάσεων DNA δεν έχει καμία σχέση με τη φυλή, εξέδωσε «Το χαμόγελο του Παιδιού».
O Οργανισμός ανακοίνωσε ότι η μικρή κατόπιν εντολής του εισαγγελέα Λάρισας, θα μείνει σε σπίτι του Οργανισμού, μέχρι να βρεθούν οι βιολογικοί γονείς του.
Ο οργανισμός «Το Χαμόγελο του Παιδιού» σε συνεργασία με την Ελληνική Αστυνομία προέβει σε όλες τις απαραίτητες ενέργειες για την κινητοποίηση και ενημέρωση όλων των αρμόδιων φορέων σε εθνικό και διεθνές επίπεδο, (Ευρωπαϊκή Ομοσπονδία για τα εξαφανισμένα και σεξουαλικά κακοποιημένα παιδιά (MCE), Διεθνές Κέντρο για τα εξαφανισμένα και θύματα εκμετάλλευσης παιδιά (ICMEC)) με στόχο την ενημέρωση για την αναζήτηση των γονέων του τετράχρονου κοριτσιού.