Video: Raw footage shows Tonga's Parliament House flattened by Gita's fury

The morning sun rise has revealed devatation across Tonga, with among the most dire early images those of Tonga's Parliament House in Nuku'alofa, which has been totally flattened.

Parliament House in Tonga.
Parliament House in Tonga. Source: Supplied

1 NEWS Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver recorded a short video outside Tonga's Parliament House this morning.

Heart-breaking images of the previously sturdy Parliament House show the true power of Cyclone Gita.
Source: 1 NEWS

The damage is concerning because Parliament House was among the island's most sturdy buildings.

Early photos and videos are showing widespread destruction across Tonga's two main islands.

Follow the latest news on this unfolding tragedy in our LIVE rolling coverage.

Forecaster Philip Duncan on if any of Gita’s remnants will hit New Zealand. Source: Breakfast

The Prime Minister said she just spoke to Winston Peters and Cyclone Gita relief funds for Tonga are "all signed off". Source: 1 NEWS

Other Tonga videos from this morning:

Heart-breaking images of the previously sturdy Parliament House show the true power of Cyclone Gita. Source: 1 NEWS


Princess Eugenie, Jack Brooksbank treat guests to pizza, tequila at wedding reception

Princess Eugenie, Jack Brooksbank and their guests enjoyed Casamigos tequila and gourmet pizza at their wedding reception yesterday.

The royal couple tied the knot at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on Saturday and treated guests to a gourmet pizza truck and Casamigos margaritas. It is no surprise they opted for the tequila brand as Jack works as a brand manager for the company.

Britain's Princess Eugenie of York and Jack Brooksbank are photographed at Royal Lodge, Windsor, England, ahead of the private evening dinner, following their Wedding, at St George's Chapel. Source: Associated Press

A series of receptions took place in the Waterloo Chamber, the Grand Reception Room and St. George's Hall in Windsor Castle, with finger foods - including Yorkshire pudding bites and miniature Scotch eggs - and Pol Roger champagne on offer, People magazine reports.

And guest Robbie Williams also gave an impromptu performance at the wedding reception, hosted by Eugenie's parents Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson in the grounds of the Royal Lodge at Windsor.

Meanwhile, it was recently revealed that the couple's wedding included an excerpt of The Great Gatsby - because the main character reminds Eugenie of Jack.

From left, back row, Thomas Brooksbank, Nicola Brooksbank, George Brooksbank, Princess Beatrice, Sarah, Duchess of York, Prince Andrew, middle row, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Maud Windsor, Louis De Givenchy, front row, Theodora Williams, Mia Tindall, Isla Phillips and Savannah Phillips. Source: Associated Press

The Dean of Windsor - who officiated the couple's wedding - detailed the moving reason behind Eugenie's decision to include the passage, which described the book's main character Jay Gatsby.

Britain's Princess Eugenie of York and Jack Brooksbank are photographed in the White Drawing Room, Windsor Castle. Source: Associated Press

He said: "One particular passage, in which Jay Gatsby is described, reminded her immediately of Jack. She decided that eventually, she wanted to let Jack know how much those words had brought him to mind, and that's why they've had a special place as our second reading in today's wedding service. The words that particularly reminded her of Jack concern Gatsby's smile. As we heard from the reading: 'It was one of those rare smiles, with a quality of eternal reassurance in it. It concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favour.'"

Britain's Princess Eugenie of York and Jack Brooksbank embrace, in the Scottish State Coach, upon its return to Windsor Castle following the Carriage Procession after their Wedding. Source: Associated Press


Pope Francis defrocks pair of Chilean bishops accused of sexually abusing minors

Pope Francis on Saturday defrocked two more Chilean bishops accused of sexually abusing minors, and to show greater transparency about how he's responding to the church's global sex abuse crisis, he publicly explained why they were removed.

The Vatican's unusually detailed statement announcing the laicization of retired Archbishop Francisco Jose Cox Huneeus and retired Bishop Marco Antonio Ordenes Fernandez signaled a new degree of transparency following past missteps by Francis that showed he had grossly underestimated the gravity of the abuse scandal.

The statement said the two were defrocked for abusing minors with evidence so overwhelming that a canonical trial was unnecessary. The Vatican said the decision cannot be appealed.

Cox, 87 and suffering from dementia, is a member of the Schoenstatt religious order and had served as a bishop in Chillan, Chile before becoming the No. 2 official at the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family, a high-profile position during St. John Paul II's papacy.

He returned to Chile and became bishop in La Serena until he left in 1997 under unclear circumstances, but took on administrative jobs in Rome and at the Latin American bishops' conference in Colombia.

In 2002, the Vatican office for bishops asked the Schoenstatt Fathers to take him in one of its houses, apparently because of abuse allegations. He has been living in Germany since then but last year a new, formal accusation was received by the Vatican about an alleged case of abuse that happened in Germany in 2004.

The Schoenstatt Fathers said Saturday the Vatican had asked that Cox remain in their custody. The order said it would cooperate with the justice system, given that victims in Chile have made criminal complaints against him.

"We receive this news with much shame for the damage caused to the victims," the community said. "We show solidarity with them and their profound suffering. Today more than ever, we deplore every act of abuse that offends the dignity of people."

Given the favor that Cox enjoyed by John Paul's inner circle, his fall is yet another stain on John Paul's legacy. It also calls into question the senior Schoenstatt cardinal in Chile, Cardinal Javier Errazuriz, an adviser to Francis who has long been accused of covering up for abusers.

Ordenes Fernandez, 53, for his part, was made bishop of Iquique, in northern Chile, in 2006 at the young age of 42. He retired six years later allegedly for health reasons. But subsequently allegations of abuse were leveled against him.

Previously, the Vatican has rarely, if ever, announced laicizations of individual priests and only issued a single-line statement if a bishop had resigned, without further explanation.

Before Francis' papacy began in 2013, it was Vatican practice to reveal if resignations were retirements due to age, or for some other 'grave' reason that made them unfit for office. But Francis early on removed even that minimum amount of information.

Advocates for abuse survivors have long complained about the Vatican's secrecy in handling such abuse cases, and the lack of transparency when it arrived at judgments.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said Saturday's more detailed statement suggested a new trend in the way the Vatican will announce the results of investigations of bishops accused of abuse. A similarly detailed statement was issued when Francis defrocked Chile's most notorious abuser, the Rev. Fernando Karadima, several weeks ago.

Francis has been under fire for his handling of abuse cases for years, but the issue now is threatening his credibility and his legacy. The church's abuse scandal has exploded anew in the U.S., Chile, Germany and elsewhere, and decisions made early in Francis' papacy made it appear that he did not grasp the gravity of the trauma done to abuse victims.

In May, all active bishops in Chile offered to resign over their collective mishandling of the abuse scandal. So far, Francis has accepted the resignations of seven.

Francis discussed the issue during his Vatican audience Saturday with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera Echenique, who also met with the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

The Vatican said both meetings discussed "the painful scourge of abuse of minors, reiterating the effort of all in collaboration to combat and prevent the perpetration of such crimes and their concealment."

Chilean survivors of abuse applauded the defrockings, saying the two bishops had used their power to abuse children and gotten away with it.

A group of lay Catholics from Cox's old diocese in La Serena said they hoped he would be extradited to face justice in Chile, saying he had abused children as young as five.

"We want to let it be known that the Schoenstatt order has in its hands a criminal, a predator," who should be "judged and punished like any other delinquent," said Juan Rojas, a spokesman for the John XXIII lay group of La Serena.

Chilean abuse victim Juan Carlos Cruz, who has long denounced the abuse cover-up orchestrated by the highest echelons of the Chilean church, said the "circle was getting tighter" around Errazuriz, the retired archbishop of Santiago who is a member of Cox's order.

Francis is under pressure to distance himself from Errazuriz, who remains a member of his kitchen cabinet of nine cardinal advisers.

A report from the US found at least 1000 children were abused by 300 Priests over the past 70 years. Source: Breakfast



Worrying rise in Ebola cases after efforts to contain Congo outbreak become violent

A runaway hearse carrying an Ebola victim has become the latest example of sometimes violent community resistance complicating efforts to contain a Congo outbreak - and causing a worrying new rise in cases.

The deadly virus' appearance for the first time in the far northeast has sparked fear. Suspected contacts of infected people have tried to slip away. Residents have assaulted health teams. The rate of new Ebola cases has more than doubled since the start of this month, experts say.

Safe burials are particularly sensitive as some outraged family members reject the intervention of health workers in the deeply personal moment, even as they put their own lives at risk.

On Wednesday (local time), a wary peace was negotiated over the body of an Ebola victim, one of 95 deaths among 172 confirmed cases so far, Congo's health ministry said. Her family demanded that an acquaintance drive the hearse, while they agreed to wear protective gear to carry the casket. A police vehicle would follow.

On the way to the cemetery, however, the hearse peeled away "at full speed," the ministry said. A violent confrontation followed with local youth once the hearse was found at the family's own burial plot elsewhere. The procession eventually reached the cemetery by day's end.

The next day, with a better understanding of what was at stake, several family members appeared voluntarily at a hospital for Ebola vaccinations, the ministry said.

"They swore no one had manipulated the corpse," it added. Ebola spreads via bodily fluids of those infected, including the dead.
The Beni community where the confrontation occurred is at the center of Ebola containment efforts. To the alarm of the World Health Organisation and others, it is also where community resistance has been the most persistent - and where many of the new cases are found.

Chronic mistrust after years of rebel attacks is part of the "toxic mix" in Beni, WHO's emergencies chief, Peter Salama, said in a Twitter post.

So far, the Ebola work in Beni has been suspended twice since the outbreak was declared on Aug. 1. A "dead city" of mourning in response to a rebel attack caused the first. Wednesday's violence caused the second. With each pause, crucial efforts to track thousands of possible Ebola contacts can slide, risking further infections.

Defending themselves, Beni residents have pointed out the shock of having one of the world's most notorious diseases appear along with strangers in biohazard suits who tell them how to say goodbye to loved ones killed by the virus.

"Until now we didn't know enough about Ebola and we felt marginalised when Red Cross agents came in and took the corpse and buried it without family members playing a role," Beni resident Patrick Kyana, who said a friend lost his father to the virus, told The Associated Press. "It's very difficult. Imagine that your son dies and someone refuses to let you assist in his burial. In Africa we respect death greatly."

Until recently many people in Beni didn't believe that Ebola existed, thinking it was a government plot to further delay presidential elections, Kizito Hangi, president of Beni's civil society, told the AP.

Now the population has started to catch on and cooperate, Hangi said. "The problem was that the health workers all came from outside, but local specialists have been included to persuade and inform people in local languages."

The head of emergency Ebola operations with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Jamie LeSueur, acknowledged the problem.

In early October two Red Cross volunteers were severely injured in an attack during safe burials in the community of Butemo. Another volunteer was injured in September by people throwing stones.

"It raised a lot of questions for all of us. Where is the violence coming from?" he said. They have stepped up efforts to collaborate with communities and be clearer about messaging while working within cultural norms as best as possible.

"Of course there are limitations," LeSueur said. "Some people like to view the corpse as it is buried but with Ebola it is difficult to open up the body bag."

In the emotionally charged environment where families have lost loved ones, a misstep could quickly raise tensions.

While Congo's government is acting to give more protection to its own safe burial teams in Beni, LeSueur noted that the "militarisation" of similar efforts in the far deadlier Ebola outbreak in West Africa a few years ago led some residents to hide or not report deaths from the virus.

"I don't think that will be the case in this event" but everyone remembers that lesson, he said.

With its position of neutrality the Red Cross doesn't use armed guards in any case, LeSueur added. "Community acceptance, that's our security."

Source: Associated Press


Wild weather in Antarctica delays annual journey

Antarctica is facing a series of storms that have caused the longest delay for the start of the season in decades.

Antarctica New Zealand staff were due to fly south on 1 October to set up Scott Base for the science season ahead, but wild winds and snow have closed the McMurdo Sound airfields.

Antarctica New Zealand general manager of operations Simon Trotter said the team was working hard to minimise impact on work planned for the season.

"There are only 22 weeks in the season, so a two-week delay, especially at the beginning, is significant.

"Although weather delays are beyond our control, we deal with them every year. All we can do is re-schedule and wait for the window of opportunity."

"The storms have also affected our US neighbours who are due to fly south to McMurdo Station," Mr Trotter said.

"Unlike us, they can't send their employees home to wait it out - so many of them are getting to know Christchurch very well."

Meanwhile, the US participants in Christchurch are getting required training they would otherwise get in Antarctica to maximize their productivity once they reach McMurdo.

A US Air Force C17 Globemaster is patiently waiting on the tarmac at Christchurch Airport for the Antarctic storms to subside. As soon as the weather clears, the plane, along with an Airbus, will fly participants to the ice.

Weather permitting, flights will start tomorrow. The plan is to start clearing the backlog with seven flights over the next week if weather clears.

The icy Antarctic sea. Source: 1 NEWS