Russia expels 23 British diplomats as spy poisoning dispute escalates

Russia's government is expelling 23 British diplomats and threatened further measures in retaliation in a growing diplomatic dispute over a nerve agent attack on a former spy in Britain.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it is also ordering the closure of the British Council in Russia and ending an agreement to reopen the British consulate in St. Petersburg.

It ordered the diplomats to leave within a week.

The statement said the government could take further measures if Britain takes any more "unfriendly" moves toward Russia.

British Prime Minister Theresa May this week expelled 23 Russian diplomats and severed high-level contacts over the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

They remain in critical condition in hospital.

British Prime Minister Theresa May this week ordered 23 Russian diplomats expelled as part of measures to punish Russia over the March 4 poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the city of Salisbury.

British Ambassador Laurie Bristow is expected at the Russian Foreign Ministry late Saturday morning.

Britain's foreign secretary accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of personally ordering the poisoning.

Putin's spokesman denounced the claim.



Hundreds feared drowned after passenger ferry capsizes on Lake Victoria in Tanzania

At least 44 people died when after a passenger ferry capsized on Lake Victoria, a Tanzanian official said this morning, and the death toll was expected to rise significantly when rescue efforts resumed at daybreak.

Beach in Victoria Lake, Africa.
Lake Victoria. Source: istock.com

Thirty-seven people were rescued after the afternoon sinking, Mwanza regional commissioner John Mongella told The Associated Press.

"I cannot speculate" how many people had been on board, he said.

"Right now our focus is on rescue."

But such ferries often carry hundreds of people and are overcrowded.

The death toll could end up surpassing 200, an official told Reuters. 

The Tanzania Electrical, Mechanical and Electronics Services Agency, in charge of servicing the vessels, urged patience in a statement as rescue efforts began.

The ferry was traveling between Ukara and Bugolora and capsized near the area of Mwanza, the agency said.Accidents are often reported on the large freshwater lake surrounded by Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.

Some of the deadliest have occurred in Tanzania, where passenger boats are often said to be old and in poor condition.

In 1996, more than 800 people were killed when the passenger and cargo ferry MV Bukoba sank on Lake Victoria.Nearly 200 people died in 2011 when the MV Spice Islander I sank off Tanzania's Indian Ocean coast near Zanzibar.

More than 300 people were on board the ferry on Lake Victoria in Tanzania when disaster struck just metres from shore. Source: 1 NEWS


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Nudes v prudes: Cheeky homeowners' bare-all yard work flusters self-proclaimed small-town, USA

Flustered residents of a Florida neighbourhood are learning the hard way about the limitations of nudity laws there.

Several residents of Stuart, which touts itself as one of the best small towns in the United States, have complained and called police about a neighbour who has found that yard work and chores are less tedious when in the nude.

The problem: Said work is often in the man's front yard, in full view of neighbours and motorists, local media outlets have reported.

"I came out Sunday night to put the trash out, and I look over and he is bent over, winding up his hose, and I'm like that is my view of the neighbourhood," Melissa Ny said with a laugh this week as she talked with TV station WPBF 25.

Another resident had a more angry tone as he pointed out the home sits next to a school bus stop.

But there's not much neighbours can do about it aside from complaining to the media.

Florida law allows people to be nude on their own property as long as they aren't engaging in "vulgar, indecent, lewd, or lascivious" behaviour, and police reckon trimming hedges and washing a car is not considered any of those, the Orlando Sentinel newspaper reports.

“I look over and he’s bent over winding up his hose, and that’s my view of my neighbourhood,” Melissa Ny said with a laugh. Source: WPBF

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Drum lines set out as hunt begins for shark that attacked Kiwi girl in Queensland

Drum lines will be set after two tourists were critically injured in separate attacks at a harbour in the Whitsunday Islands in north Queensland.

A 12-year-old New Zealand girl holidaying with her father and sister received a life-threatening wound to her leg on Thursday afternoon at Cid Harbour.

Emergency services say the young girl lost a lot of blood in the Whitsunday Islands attack. Source: Breakfast

The attack came less than 24 hours after Tasmanian woman Justine Barwick, 46, was also bitten on her left thigh while snorkelling in the same harbour.

The child was in a critical condition at Mackay Base Hospital but it's understood she will be transported to Brisbane for further treatment.

Ms Barwick was taken to Brisbane on Thursday and her condition has since been upgraded to stable in intensive care at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital.

Fisheries Queensland will set three baited drum lines in the harbour on Friday in a bid to catch the shark or sharks responsible.

"It is possible that there's more than one shark involved in these unfortunate events," the department's shark control program manager Jeff Krause told the ABC.

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For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

"We don't normally go out and search for any sharks that may have been involved in a shark attack but due to the nature of these multiple attacks, Fisheries Queensland is going to deploy three drum lines in a bid to try and catch some of the sharks in that area."

Mr Krause said various types of whaler species as well as bull and tiger sharks can be found in waters around the harbour and he advised against swimming in or near Cid Harbour for the time being.

The last attack in the area was eight years ago.

Shark attack expert Daryl McPhee, from Bond University, said while the likelihood of being attacked by a shark is slim, the Great Barrier Reef has a higher population of sharks than other areas.

"That increases the chances of something happening," Associate Professor McPhee said.

"Sharks will bite things that they think are prey and sometimes they consider people prey."

The girl was on holiday with her father and sister when her upper leg was attacked in the Whitsunday Islands. Source: CH9


US man charged with putting daughter in game machine to steal prizes

A Massachusetts teacher has been charged with putting his toddler daughter into a game machine at a New Hampshire shopping mall and using her to steal prizes.

Police in Salem say 34-year-old Anthony Helinski, of Lawrence, Massachusetts, turned himself in Wednesday, five days after witnesses at the Mall at Rockingham Park recorded video of a man encouraging the girl to hand out prizes from within the KeyMaster game.

The video then shows the toddler climbing out of the machine.

Andover Public Schools told WCVB-TV that Helinski has been placed on leave from his job as a middle school teacher.

Helinski is charged with theft, trespassing and child endangerment.

A Massachusetts teacher has been charged with putting the toddler into a game machine at a shopping mall and using her to steal prizes. Source: Associated Press