Around 900 blazes burning in NSW

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More lightning strikes in NSW could add to the almost 90 fires burning across the state on Sunday.

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About 900 firefighters have been deployed across NSW to battle 50 new fires sparked on Saturday night after lightning activity.

One blaze burning at Minnimbah, near Wagga Wagga, threatened the small village of Humula and surrounding properties on Saturday night.

An emergency warning was issued for the residents in the area but the fire has since been downgraded to a watch and act level.

The out of control blaze has burnt through 7200 hectares.

There are unconfirmed reports properties have been lost.

With further lightning forecast, the Rural Fire Service (RFS) is concerned about new flare ups.

“Obviously we are concerned about new fires again that would have come from lightning,” RFS deputy commissioner Rob Rogers told ABC radio.

“The number of fires that we’re trying to deal with is just going up alarmingly.”

The Bureau of Meteorology forecasts the chance of thunderstorms from Sunday afternoon for the central tablelands and south west slopes.

Residents affected by the Minnimbah fire, which is burning in the Murraguldrie State Forest, should be aware of a potential wind change that would see the fire threaten the Humula village again, the RFS says.

Fire crews and aircraft are also protecting properties near a fire at Minjary, in the state’s Riverina.

The fire has burnt more than 500 hectares.

RFS spokesman Matt Sun said 86 fires were burning across NSW, with about 20 uncontained.

He said there was a lot of work going on to build containment lines around the two major fires.

But Mr Sun warned the situation could change as the afternoon progressed.

I won’t quit Southampton, says Pochettino

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Media speculation had mounted that the Argentine would quit after chief executive Nicola Cortese, the man credited with driving Southampton’s renaissance as a force in English soccer, resigned on Wednesday.

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Supporters feared an exodus of players loyal to Italian banker Cortese but Pochettino told a news conference he was “100 percent committed” to his project.

“I have a professional responsibility to everyone at the club and to the fans,” said the 41-year-old manager.

Pochettino said in May that he would leave the south-coast team if Cortese quit St Mary’s but he has had a change of heart.

“It was a completely different situation eight months ago. I was speaking at the end of my first season,” he explained.

“We are in the next process of this club … I spoke to Nicola Cortese about this … I am committed to this club, the staff, fans, players.

“It makes no sense to leave in the middle of this path. I want to express my complete gratitude to Nicola for bringing me and my family to the club.”

Pochettino said the former chief executive had backed his decision.

“Nicola agrees with my decision to stay,” said the Argentine. “He asked me for only one thing and that was to try to win on Saturday against Sunderland.”

SEARCH IS ON

Owner Katharina Liebherr has taken on the role of non-executive chairman and a search has begun for a new chief executive at the club that was in the third tier of English football in 2010.

Pochettino said he had met briefly with Liebherr who had stressed her faith in the manager.

“I spoke to her for five minutes and she transmitted to me her full trust,” he added.

“There was not time to speak to her about the future. It was a quick hello and goodbye.”

Pochettino said it was only the second time he had met Liebherr who inherited Southampton when her Swiss father Markus, who bought the club for around 14 million pounds ($22.88 million) in 2009, died a year later.

The manager said he was unaware of any intention by Liebherr, who according to media reports is worth three billion pounds, to sell a club that is valued at around 100 million pounds.

“She said she wants the club to be stable and for this to not affect the club and to look forward to the future,” said Pochettino.

The former Espanyol coach also moved to snuff out rumours that rival clubs were circling, ready to take advantage of the turmoil at Southampton by snapping up some of their highly-prized players like left back Luke Shaw.

“I want to make this clear…my belief has not changed from a week ago,” said Pochettino. “No players that I want at this club will be sold.”

Pochettino added that he would review his position at the end of the season.

Southampton are ninth in the league, 12 points behind Liverpool – who occupy the fourth spot that will earn a berth in the Champions League preliminary round next season – and 12 points clear of the relegation zone.

($1 = 0.6119 British pounds)

(Editing by Tony Jimenez) nL3N0KQ4KP

Brazil says to add 1,973 flights to meet World Cup demand

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Although the expansion in flights and routes represents only 1 percent of the existing system in Brazil, the number of requests exceeded the roughly 1,500 new flights that had previously been expected.

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“We will grant all the requests. The system has the capacity to handle those new flights,” ANAC’s head, Marcelo Guaranys, told reporters in Brasilia.

The new flights should help contain the rise in air fares for which carriers have come under scrutiny recently. Airlines Azul and Avianca Brasil pledged earlier this month to cap domestic prices at 999 reais (256.87 pounds).

Brazil’s two biggest carriers, Gol Linhas Aereas and TAM, the local unit of Chile’s Latam Airlines Group, came under fire last year when the government noticed ticket prices soaring during the World Cup.

Brazil’s biggest airlines have been cutting routes, giving back aircraft and firing flight staff over the past two years to restore profits amid high fuel prices and a deteriorating exchange rate.

The local aviation industry is under pressure as one of the biggest potential embarrassments at the World Cup. The dozen host cities where games will be played are scattered around a country the size of the continental United States, which will force some 3.6 million fans through a series of overloaded airports.

U.S. fans, who have one of the more gruelling itineraries, will have to book at least 3,500 miles (5,600 km) in domestic flights between their team’s first three matches in Brazil – to say nothing of the long international legs to arrive in the South American nation.

ANAC said the legs that will receive the greatest number of new flights were Guarulhos, Sao Paulo-Fortaleza, Ceara; Santos Dumont, Rio de Janeiro-Viracopos, Sao Paulo; Galeao, Rio de Janeiro-Aeroparque, Argentina; Brasilia- Guarulhos; and Galeao-Ezeiza, Argentina.

ANAC said it expected the airlines to return to their normal number of flights once the World Cup was over.

(Reporting by Leonardo Goy; Writing by Reese Ewing; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Multiple escapes from WA detention centre

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(Transcript from World News Australia Radio)

It’s not been a good six months for detention centre operator Serco in Western Australia.

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Vietnamese asylum seekers have escaped from the Serco-run Yongah Hills detention centre three times.

And a reportedly leaked report reveals it took the third group of escapees just 45 seconds to find freedom.

Ryan Emery reports.

Every Sunday refugee advocate Sarah Ross visits Yongah Hill detention centre just outside the WA country town of Northam.

But on a recent visit this month, her time was cut short as security guards in the reception area suddenly sprang into action.

Three Vietnamese asylum seekers had reportedly scaled several fences, including an electrified one.

Two were recaptured, but the third is still on the run.

Sarah Ross:

“When I was standing in reception to get the visit processed, there was a number of guards sitting around the reception area. Some of them were ERT: Emergency Response Team guards, and then suddenly within the space of a few seconds they had stood up and bolted towards the door. They bolted outside and I saw them running between the perimeter fences and then a van followed them and then a few minutes later a police car came up. So it was pretty intense within the span of a couple of seconds and they’d bolted towards the fences.”

Sarah Ross was told to leave.

The escape was the third time Vietnamese asylum seekers had fled the Serco-operated centre.

Last August, a group of five sparked a week-long manhunt, but they were all eventually recaptured and then reportedly sent to Christmas Island.

In December, another two escaped, but this time only one was recaptured.

With the breakout in January, it makes two Vietnamese asylum seekers on the run.

News Limited has reported a Serco insider says there is a culture of dysfunction at the centre, and security is lax.

A supposedly leaked report reveals the voltage on the electrified fence is not strong enough to adequately shock escapees and its structure makes it easy to climb.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says he’s not happy with Serco.

The minister’s office says the contract includes “abatements” or reduced payments for breaches of the agreed terms including security errors.

But exactly how much it costs the global giant is a commercial secret.

Sarah Ross says the Vietnamese asylum seekers are fleeing the centre because they have been visited by Vietnamese police officers.

“They were basically abusing the Vietnamese asylum seekers in Vietnamese and in the process of creating that link they were revealing the asylum seekers were they lived who their family was to the police and consequently some people’s family were visited by the Vietnam police back in Vietnam so it was an awful tactic that was only stopped because activists were able to reveal it.”

Advocates say the Vietnamese are Catholics who are persecuted in their home country.

The federal government says those who visited the Vietnamese in the Yongah Hill centre were not police officers.

It says they were immigration officials who needed to verify the identity of those who were about to be deported.