Archive for the ‘Australia’ Category

Irwin death tape destroyed

Saturday, January 13th, 2007

All copies of the video of Steve Irwin’s death have been destroyed, according to his widow Terri. (You can read the full interview here.)

So much for the reports that Irwin’s family was planning to “respect his last wishes and allow the harrowing footage to be broadcast.” (The Daily Star, which initially got that rumor rolling, quoted Irwin as once saying, “My number one rule is to keep that camera rolling. … Even if a big old alligator is chewing me up I want to go down and go, ‘Crikey!’ just before I die. That would be the ultimate for me.”)

One video that will air is Irwin’s final documentary, “Ocean’s Deadliest,” which he was in the midst of filming when he died. It will debut next Sunday at 8pm, simulcast on Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel.

Anyway, the discussion of the death video reminds me of a poll question I’ve wanted to ask on the blog for a while… but I haven’t, because, well, it’s in extremely poor taste. But, what the heck, I’ll ask it after the jump. Taste doesn’t matter, so long as it’s after the jump, right? :) Like I said, though: extremely poor taste. Seriously. Don’t click the “more…” link if you’re easily offended!


Look on the bright side

Friday, September 8th, 2006

The bad news: “a saloon-style striptease at an Australian government-sponsored conference on global warming left some scientists and government officials hot and bothered.”

The good news: the stripper was not Al Gore.

Croc Hunter update

Monday, September 4th, 2006

Here’s an article with more details about Steve Irwin’s death, including the fact that it was caught on tape, and the video has been turned over to police. (Hat tip: Sergio.)

Crocodile Hunter dies

Monday, September 4th, 2006

Steve Irwin, better known as the Crocodile Hunter, has died according to Australian news. The cause of death was apparently a stab wound from a sting ray that pierced his chest.

UPDATE BY BRENDAN: Australia’s has more details on Irwin’s death:

A doctor and witnesses have told of the desperate efforts to save Australian icon Steve Irwin after the Crocodile Hunter was struck in the chest by a stingray barb today.

Irwin, 44, died this morning after being fatally injured while filming a nature documentary off Queensland. …

Choking back tears, [Irwin’s manager John] Stainton said Irwin had gone “over the top of a stingray and a stingray’s barb went up and went into his chest and put a hole into his heartâ€?.

“He possibly died instantly when the barb hit him, and I don’t think that he … felt any pain.â€? …

Mr Stainton admitted he had always feared Irwin might meet his death while working with wildlife, but added that Irwin himself was never scared.

“We’ve been in some pretty close shaves. (But) nothing would ever scare Steve or would worry him. He didn’t have a fear of death at all.â€?

In an sad twist, it has been reported that his new documentary was aimed at demystifying the stingray. However Mr Stainton said Irwin was filming other footage for a program with [his eight-year-old daughter] Bindi at the time of the attack.

Read the whole thing, which also includes links to various other articles about the tragedy.

As I said in comments, I too often wondered, while watching Irwin’s antics on TV, if he would ultimately meet his demise at the hands of some dangerous animal. Alas, “nature’s wayâ€? finally caught up to the Croc Hunter. Rest in peace, mate.

P.S. Irwin’s Wikipedia entry has more:

On 4 September 2006, Irwin was fatally pierced in the chest into his heart by a stingray barb, while off the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia while filming a segment for his daughter Bindi Irwin’s (8 years old at the time) upcoming series. Irwin was in the area filming his own documentary, to be called Ocean’s Deadliest, but weather had stalled filming. Irwin decided to take the opportunity to film some shallow water shots for his daughter’s program. The BBC reported that this was only the second known fatality in Australian history from a stingray attack. The Sydney Morning Herald lists it as the third known death; the other two deaths being in 1938 and 1945.

Shortly after 11:00 a.m. local time (01:00 UTC), Irwin was filming in the Low Isles, Queensland near Port Douglas, north of Cairns, Queensland, Australia, where he was stung either through his heart or through the left side of his chest. After he was stung, his crew called for medical help and attempted to resuscitate him. The Queensland Rescue Helicopter responded, taking him to Cairns Base Hospital. However, Irwin was pronounced dead at noon. He was not killed by the sting itself but from a puncture to the heart in turn causing cardiac arrest.

Scientists: giant asteroid hit Antarctica, created Australia

Saturday, June 3rd, 2006

tOSU scientists have found a 300-mile-wide crater, a mile beneath the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, and they believe that’s where an enormous asteroid, perhaps 30 miles wide, hit the Gondwana supercontinent 250 million years ago, causing the Permian-Triassic extinction — “when almost all animal life on Earth died out” — and creating the continent of Australia. Pretty cool!

Topless protesters get maximum exposure

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

I received an email from Brendan highlighting this article, however I am unsure what part of the article caught Brendan’s interest.

It could have been the plans to amalgamate the National Art School with the University of NSW, the two female students covered in gold paint who exposed their breasts, or the anti-logging protester, dressed as a koala, who failed to attract the same attention.

I will let you all decide :)

Veteran TV reporter dies at mine

Sunday, May 7th, 2006

Australian Nine Network reporter Richard Carleton has died after suffering a suspected heart attack at Tasmania’s Beaconsfield Gold Mine today, during a press conference regarding the trapped miners. Witnesses said Carleton went red in the face after asking a question at the press conference and walked a short distance before collapsing. A radio journalist began CPR while an ambulance was called and someone was sent to the mine site to get medical experts working with the trapped miners. Carleton was taken away in an ambulance and pronounced dead a short time later.

Minutes before he collapsed, Carleton asked Beaconsfield Mine Manager Matthew Gill about the safety history of the mine:

“On 26th October last year, not 10 metres from where these men are now entombed, you had a 400-tonne rock fall. Why is it, is it the strength of the seam, or the wealth of the seam, that you continue to send men into work in such a dangerous environment?”

Carleton, who reports for the network’s flagship 60 Minutes program, has a history of heart problems.

Meanwhile, rescuers still have at least 1.1 metres of solid rock to get through before they begin to tunnel vertically to reach two trapped Tasmanian miners. They are now drilling small holes into the rock face, inserting low-impact explosives and detonating them. The narrowness of the rescue tunnel means only one rescuer can drill into the rock at any given time. But he is helped by another rescuer kneeling behind him to help him hold the drill, which weighs up to 40kg. It is hoped Todd Russell and Brant Webb will be freed tomorrow. The men are still insisting that they will walk out of the mine and are doing exercises within their confined space to help them achieve this goal.

Miners found alive

Sunday, April 30th, 2006

The two miners trapped underground in a Tasmanian mine since last Tuesday have been found alive and well. The men are still trapped underground but a camera has gotten through to them and they are still alive and seem to be okay. The two miners have been able to have a conversation with the rescue team. Rescuers have called in all the miners to start work getting them out. It is expected they will have them out early tomorrow.

The incident killed their workmate, 44-year-old Larry Knight, whose body was retrieved on Thursday.

Update: Both men are inside a metal cage on a cherry picker they were working in when the rockfall happened. A rock has fallen on top of the cage, shutting them inside, and the pair are forced to sit in the cramped structure which is just 1.2m by 1.2m. The rescuers priority is to get fresh water and food to the men, along with better communication equipment by pushing it through a long tube before they attempt to extract them from the mine. Having been sitting for so long, neither of the men will be able to walk. The pair have survived on drips of heavily mineralised and rancid water running through the mine.

Update 2: Rescuers have drilled a narrow hole through 12m of rock through which a 100mm PVC pipe was inserted and water, biscuits, tablets and protein drinks passed to the two miners. It may take more than two more days to free them.

Monica update

Wednesday, April 26th, 2006

The cyclone formerly known as Monica is back over water, but she has weakened to a mere “tropical low” (what we would call a “tropical depression”) and is unlikely to re-develop into a Tropical Cyclone even as she heads southwestward into the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf.

Thanks to a well-timed left-hand turn, Monica brought only tropical-storm-force winds to the city of Darwin, and there have been no reports of deaths or injuries, contrary to earlier fears of a calamity. Thank goodness for that!

Now the big question is: just how strong was she? Despite some reports that Monica, at her peak, rivaled Supertyphoon Tip for the title of strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded on planet Earth, the storm’s exact strength is a matter of some dispute, as Dr. Jeff Masters points out.

Earthquake causes mine collapse

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006

A 2.1 magnitude earthquake last night triggered a rockfall at the Beaconsfield Gold mine, in Tasmania, Australia. Three miners, from Launceston, are trapped approximately 1km underground. A machine is currently being rigged up with a camera to assess the damage, as it is too dangerous to send men in. No attempt will be made to enter the mine until seismic tests show the site is stable.

The mine was equipped with radio facilities but these were damaged in the rockfall and no contact has been made with the trapped miners. The miners were 925m underground when they lost contact and were known to be in the vicinity of the rockfall. The area doesnt have rescue chambers.

Update: A remote-controlled front-end loader fitted with a camera is being used to excavate the fallen rocks. Rescue teams have been unable to make contact with the men and fallen rocks have prevented rescuers from reaching them.

Update 2: According to University of Tasmania geophysics lecturer Michael Roach, it appears the mine’s own operations were responsible for the quake. “The event is of magnitude 2.1, it’s located fairly close to the Beaconsfield mine and it’s almost certainly related to mining activities at Beaconsfield,” Dr Roach told ABC radio. Mine manager, Matthew Gill, had earlier said it was not known what caused the “large seismic event”. The mine blasted on a 24-hourly basis but was not doing so at the time. The rescue attempt is still underway.

Update 3: The body of one of the three miners has been found.

Update 4: Rescuers will try a new method in their bid to reach the two still missing miners. They are now planning to bypass the unsafe area where the rock falls occurred via a horizontal tunnel. 48 hours have now passed and there is little hope there will be any survivors.

Monica turns left, spares Darwin

Monday, April 24th, 2006

The city of Darwin, Australia will be spared the worst of Cyclone Monica — until recently, one of the most powerful tropical cyclones ever recorded on planet Earth — thanks to an unexpected left-hand turn and early landfall. Monica, which had been expected to track briefly over the Cobourg Peninsula and then re-emerge over water en route to the city of 100,000, instead came ashore well east of the peninsula, slamming into a sparsely populated area west of Maningrida, and is now proceeding over land, weakening as she goes. The Storm Track has more, including a satellite image of the monster storm at landfall:

As you can see, she looks considerably weaker now:

It now seems almost certain that Monica will not re-emerge over water until she is well past Darwin, meaning her closest approach to the city will be as a shadow of her former self. The current forecast calls for a “Category 2” Monica at closest approach to Darwin, which actually means a strong tropical storm — not even a hurricane — on the American scale. (See explanation here.) The latest forecast track is below:

If you compare that to last night’s forecast, you can see what a drastic change this is.

Monica’s left-hand turn, sparing Darwin the worst, is somewhat reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina’s right-hand turn, which spared New Orleans the worst (preventing a much higher death toll and more severe and rapid flooding). Of course, Katrina’s turn was much more last-minute, and thus New Orleans still got hit quite hard. In this case, if the current forecast holds, Monica won’t be much of a problem at all for Darwin.


P.S. Dr. Jeff Masters has more, including an awesome image of Monica at its peak intensity — 879 mb of pressure, making her the most intense cyclone ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere. She weakened a bit before landfall, though, and probably came ashore as a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale (still a Category 5 on the Australian scale).

P.P.S. After the jump, an animated GIF microwave image of Monica making landfall. She appears to have been weakening significantly even as she was moving ashore. (It’s a 6.4 MB image, so be patient; it’ll take a while to load. You can download it by right-clicking here.


Monica now Category 4

Monday, April 24th, 2006

Cyclone Monica is now a category 4, weakening as it heads inland. Northwestern Arnhem Land between Maningrida and Jabiru is being affected by 260 km/h gusts. Monica is expected to hit the Darwin-Daly area tomorrow afternoon with gusts up to 175 km/h.

Latest track and threat map as at 11.00pm CST here

Monica crosses NT coastline

Monday, April 24th, 2006

Cyclone Monica has crossed the Northern Territory coastline. Around 200 residents have been evacuated from Goulburn Island by light aircraft to Jabiru and bussed to Pine Creek where shelters have been set up by Emergency Services and the Defence Force.

Monica has touched down at Maningrida, in the territory’s far north. The category five cyclone will weaken after making landfall but is still expected to be category four or three when it hits Darwin tomorrow afternoon.

We have checked in with my partner’s children who reside in Darwin and they are packed up and prepared, although a little scared. We will be checking in with them regularly tomorrow.

Updated track and threat map as at 8.00pm CST here

Current cyclone track & threat map

Monday, April 24th, 2006

Cyclone Monica, with gusts to 350 kilometres per hour, is expected to begin affecting the coast between Maningrida and Goulbourn Island in the next few hours, and approach the Darwin-Daly and Tiwi Island area on Tuesday afternoon with gusts to 220 kilometres per hour.

Gales with gusts to 100 km/h are currently being experienced on
the north of the Top End coast, and will extend westward ahead of the cyclone

The current cyclone track and threat map as at 5.00pm CST from the Bureau of Meteorology can be viewed here.

Monica one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever

Sunday, April 23rd, 2006

Via MIMIC, a microwave image of Cyclone Monica.

The minimum central pressure in Tropical Cyclone Monica, a Category 5 monster bearing down on Darwin and surrounding areas in Australia, dropped at least to 879 mb earlier tonight, making it stronger than Hurricane Wilma — the most intense hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic basin — and nearly as strong as Supertyphoon Tip, whose 870 mb barometric pressure stands as the lowest ever recorded on Earth’s surface. Some commenters on Dr. Jeff Masters’s blog believe Monica may have matched or surpassed Tip, pointing to satellite estimates that show a pressure of 868 or 869 mb. As The Storm Track puts it: “If the satellite estimates are true, Monica has become the most intense storm ever recorded in the entire world. However, in this area the estimates tend to be about 10 mb too strong.” It won’t break the “lowest pressure ever recorded” mark anyway, since they don’t have reconaissance airplanes in Australia, so all of these pressure readings are actually estimates based on satellite views, not direct observations. But regardless, this is clearly one of the most intense storms ever witnessed by modern human eyes anywhere on planet Earth.

That said, satellite views — and observations by the aforementioned commenters — suggest that Monica has weakened slightly in the last few hours, perhaps because of an eyewall replacement cycle and/or the diurnal minimum. But of course, “weakened” is a relative term. This is absolutely a monster storm. The big question is how much more it will weaken before it reaches the Darwin area, and that depends largely on its exact track over the sparsely populated Cobourg Peninsula. The more time it spends over land, the more it will weaken, of course. (Then again, as Alan Sullivan notes, it’s been doing a remarkable job of maintaining its intensity and perfect symmetry even though about one-third of the circulation is already ashore!) Here’s a look at the current official track:

It should be noted, by the way, that Australian hurricane “categories” are different from the Saffir-Simpson Scale that we’re used to; Wikipedia explains. But Monica is a Category 5 by any measure.

Here’s a good page for news about the cyclone. Among other things, the events in Darwin for Anzac Day — “Australia’s biggest day” — have been prudently cancelled as Monica approaches. (Hat tip: Aussie commenter Melanie Dickson, who, incidentally, has been granted guestblogging privileges and may be filing reports as’s official Australia Correspondent soon.)

Previous post here.

The population of Darwin is just over 100,000, by the way. One of those 100,000 is this blogger. More Australia blogs here. Here is a webcam of Darwin Harbor.

Relevant historical note: Darwin was virtually flattened in 1974 by Cyclone Tracy, which destroyed 70% of the city’s buildings, killed 71 people and left 20,000 homeless. “Most of Darwin’s population was evacuated to Adelaide, Whyalla, Alice Springs and Sydney, and many never returned to Darwin,” according to Wikipedia — a scenario that sounds eerily similar to what we’re seeing in this country with Katrina.

As it happens, Tracy was physical the smallest tropical cyclone in recorded history, in terms of the geographic size of the wind field; Tip was the largest. So it’s sort of odd that Monica is, in different ways, competing with both of those two storms for a place in history.

After the jump, an incredible animated GIF image (12.6 MB, so it’ll take a while to load) of microwave imagery of Monica over the last 48 hours. (Source: MIMIC.)