Phuket Gazette World News Roundup: Australia shakes; $15bn in China-Indonesia deals; 5 killed in San Francisco shootings; EU raises heat on Syria

– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Strong earthquake strikes central Australia, no damage
Phuket Gazette / News Wires
PHUKET: The central region of Australia was struck by the country’s largest earthquake in nearly 15 years on Friday evening, seismologists said, but there were no reports of damage or casualties.

The 6.1-magnitude earthquake at 7:55pm local time (12:25 yesterday morning, Phuket time) was centered about 27 kilometers (17 miles) northwest of Ernabella Airport, a tiny airstrip near the border with South Australia and the Northern Territory. It struck about 3 kilometers (1.8 mile) deep, making it a shallow earthquake, according to Geoscience Australia.

The region near Ernabella is home to hundreds of indigenous Australians, but police said there were no reports of injuries or damage. The United States Geological Survey (USGS), which measured the strength of the earthquake at 5.6 on the body wave magnitude (Mb) scale, estimated that some 5,000 people in the sparsely populated region may have felt the quake.

Friday’s earthquake was the largest to hit mainland Australia since August 1997, when a 6.3-magnitude earthquake was recorded off Collier Bay on West Australia’s far north coast. It was widely felt but no serious damage was reported, and there were no injuries.

Indonesia, China reach 27 billion in cooperation deals
Phuket Gazette / News Wires
PHUKET: The governments of Indonesia and China on Friday reached a series of cooperation agreements estimated to be worth more than $17 billion, officials said on Saturday.

During Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s visit to China, which was scheduled to end yesterday, he met his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, as well as with Premier Wen Jiabao and top legislator Wu Bangguo.

The agreements involve several sectors, such as maritime cooperation, fighting drug trafficking, trade statistics, Chinese visitors to Indonesia and a joint oceanography and weather-research institute, the Jakarta Globe reported.

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Hu told Yudhoyono that he wants to expand links with Indonesia in oil, gas, mining, electricity, space and renewable energy, as well as greater bilateral cooperation on global affairs.

Indonesian and Chinese business leaders reportedly reached 15 memorandums of understanding, which could mount to some $17.4 billion in cooperation on seaports, roads, alternative energy, the motorcycle industry, mining, construction in strategic areas and the steel industry, Yudhoyono said. He added that both countries are on track to reach $80 billion in bilateral trade by 2015.

A number of important companies participated in the summit, including China Huadian Corp, China National Offshore Oil, China Harbor Engineering and Indonesian state steel maker Krakatau Steel.

Five found shot to death at San Francisco home
Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Five people were found shot to death in a suspected murder-suicide at a house in San Francisco on early Friday morning, authorities said.

The bodies were discovered in the Ingleside District of southern San Francisco at around 7:45am local time when a woman entered the house and found the bodies of three people before rushing out and calling the police.

San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr said police arrived and found two more bodies in the backyard. Among those killed are two men and three women, all believed to be from the same family and living in the same house. The woman who entered the house and discovered the bodies is also believed to be a member of the family.

Suhr said investigators believe the deaths are likely the result of a murder-suicide.

European Union tightens sanctions against Syria
Phuket Gazette / News Wires
PHUKET: The European Union (EU) on Friday announced increased sanctions against the Syrian regime due to its continued use of violence against civilians and pro-democracy protesters.

“The repression has reached totally unacceptable levels of violence and must stop immediately,” said EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton. “Today’s decisions aim to weaken the regime’s resources and its ability to conduct its brutal campaign,” she added.

The EU said its Council targeted 12 people associated with the repression or supporting or benefiting from the regime with a ban on entering the EU. The assets of the same individuals, who include the wife of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and of two additional entities will be frozen within the EU.

With Friday’s increased sanctions, the number of designated people rose to 126, while the total number of targeted entities reached 41.

Since the Syrian regime began to violently repress the uprising in 2011, this is the thirteenth time that the EU imposes sanctions against the country. It is estimated that more than 8,000 people have been killed since the start of the conflict in March 2011.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

World News

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