Three dead as Tonga island homes destroyed

All the homes on one of Tonga’s small outer islands were destroyed in the massive volcanic eruption and tsunami, with three people so far confirmed dead, the government says in its first update since the disaster hit.

With communications severely hampered by an undersea cable being severed, information on the scale of the devastation after Saturday’s eruption – causing waves up to 15 metres high – has so far mostly come from reconnaissance aircraft.

But the office of Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni said in a statement that every home on Mango island, where about 50 people live, had been destroyed, only two houses remained on Fonoifua and Namuka island had suffered extensive damage.

Tonga’s deputy head of mission in Australia, Curtis Tu’ihalangingie, earlier said pictures taken by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) showed “alarming” scenes of a village destroyed on Mango and buildings missing on Atata island, which is closest to the volcano.

“People panic, people run and get injuries. Possibly there will be more deaths and we just pray that is not the case,” Tu’ihalangingie told Reuters.

Sovaleni’s office said a 65-year-old woman on Mango Island and a 49-year-old man on Nomuka Island had been killed, in addition to a UK citizen whose death was confirmed on Monday.

A number of injuries were also reported.

The United Nations said on Monday a distress signal was detected in the outlying Ha’apai islands, where Mango is located.

Tsunami waves reaching up to 15 metres had hit the Ha’apia island group and the west coast of Tonga’s main island, Tongatapu, the prime minister’s office said.

On the western coast of the main island, 56 houses were completely or seriously damaged and residents moved to evacuation centres.

Mango is about 70km from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano, which sent tsunami waves across the Pacific Ocean when it erupted with a blast heard 2300km away in New Zealand.

A search and rescue operation began on Sunday for Atata island, which has a population of about 100 people.

“Challenges to sea and air transportation remain due to damage sustained by the wharves and the ash that is covering the runways,” it said.

The office said some limited communications had been made with satellite phones but some areas remained cut off.

The Tongan navy had deployed with health teams and water, food and tents to the Ha’apai islands, with more aid sent on Tuesday due to the severity of the damage observed on Mango, Fonoifua and Namuka islands, it said.

The NZDF images, which were posted on a Facebook site and confirmed by Tu’ihalangingie, showed tarpaulins being used as shelter on Mango island.

Tonga is expected to issue formal requests for aid soon but in the meantime New Zealand said two ships, HMNZS Wellington and HMNZS Aotearoa, had set off with water supplies, survey teams and a helicopter.

© RAW 2022

Search for missing 9yo enters fifth day

The search for missing nine-year-old Charlise Mutten in rugged bushland in the NSW Blue Mountains has entered its fifth day.

Charlise was reported missing on Friday morning, with her parents telling police they last saw her on Thursday at a property at Mount Wilson, 20km north of Katoomba.

More than 100 police and emergency personnel – including dog units, homicide detectives, rescue choppers and the SES – are scouring terrain RFS volunteers described as “extremely rugged with very thick bush in parts” for the schoolgirl.

A stretch of the Hawkesbury River was also searched, after police on Saturday seized a white boat from the property she disappeared from.

Police have grave concerns for her safety, Chief Inspector Garry Sims said on Sunday, but believe Charlise could survive this time in the bush.

“There’s water in the bush so we are hopeful Charlise will be able to sustain herself until we find her,” he said.

Charlise is Caucasian, between 130cm and 140cm tall, and thin. She has brown hair and brown eyes.

It is believed she was wearing a pink top with a round neck collar, a black knee-length skirt and pink Nike thongs.

© AAP 2022

Record breaking Day 3 of Magic Millions Yearling Sale

It was another record breaking day at the 2022 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale on Thursday, with eight horses cracking seven figures.

A stunning colt by I Am Invincible sold for $1.9 million, the top sale of the day.

Coolmore Australia Principal Tom Magnier secured the colt, which is the latest yearling from the stakes performed mare Suspicieuse and is a half brother to Aquis Farm based sire Dubious.

“Most people had him picked as the sale topper and it looks like he could do that – we are just so delighted to get him,” said Mr Magnier.

“We have a great team here at the sales, going around to pick the horses and everyone landed on this horse.

“He will go to Chris Waller and hopefully we have a bit of luck.”

Earlier in the day, the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace stable flexed their muscles to secure the Pierro colt from Ravi, offered as Lot 419 from the draft of Kia Ora Stud, for $1.5 million.

The day’s top priced filly as Lot 590 – the first living foal of group winner Sweet Sherry by Snitzel – sold for $1.35 million.

Colts by Zoustar (ex Summer Sham for $1.25 million), Snitzel (ex Red Lodge and ex Street Secret for $1.1 million), Not a Single Doubt (ex Rhodamine for $1.1 million) and I Am Invincible (ex Silently for $1 million) were also among the day’s stars in the ring.

Following today’s selling the sale gross has shot to over $154 million, with an average price of $298,668.

“It was a boomer,” Magic Millions Managing Director Barry Bowditch said. “It’s one of the best days of trade we’ve ever had here at Magic Millions.”

“With eight million dollar lots, a record average and the clearance rate has held solid like yesterday at 94 per cent.”

“From start to finish today it was strong, vibrant and it was exciting.”

Day Four of the 2022 Gold Coast Yearling Sale will commence at 10am.

Motorbike speed

Motorcyclist injured in HEAD ON collision with car, Gold Coast

A motorcyclist is recovering in hospital after he collided head-on with a car on the Gold Coast last night.

Emergency services were called to the Gold Coast highway near Admiralty Drive in Main Beach around 9.45pm following reports of the crash.

They assessed a 51-year-old man at the scene for non-life-threatening injuries before taking him to hospital for further treatment.

He’s understood to be in a stable condition at the Gold Coast University Hospital.

The driver of the car, a 21-year-old woman, was not injured in the incident.

Police are now investigating the circumstances around the crash.

If you have information for Police, please contact Policelink on 131 444 or provide information using their online form 24 hours per day.

You can also report information about crime anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 1800 333 000 or via 24 hours per day. Crime Stoppers is a registered charity and community volunteer organisation.

Qld man and woman charged with murder, torture of 8yo girl

A man and woman will front court today, charged with the murder of an eight-year-old girl in Toowoomba.

The body of the little girl was found at a home in Rangeville on January 8, sparking a major police investigations.

Detectives from the Toowoomba Child Protection and Investigation Unit, the Child Trauma Unit and the Homicide Investigation Unit were involved.

A 50-year-old man and a 46-year-old woman were arrested and charged yesterday with one count each of murder, torture and failure to provide necessities of life.

Police say the pair are both known to the girl.

They were denied bail and will front Toowoomba Magistrates Court later today.

If you have information for Police, please contact Policelink on 131 444 or provide information using their online form 24 hours per day.

You can also report information about crime anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 1800 333 000 or via 24 hours per day. Crime Stoppers is a registered charity and community volunteer organisation.