What we learned today, Saturday 28 January
We’re going to wrap things up for the day. These were the main events:
Western Australian authorities are continuing to search for a radioactive capsule lost somewhere on 1,400km of road for as long as two weeks.
Mining company Rio Tinto confirmed the capsule was being transported from one of its mines.
Libby Mettam said she would challenge David Honey for leadership of Western Australia’s Liberal party.
A man drowned at Shelly Beach in Cronulla in Sydney and two others were taken to hospital after being rescued from the water.
A man died and another was taken to hospital after falling from a cliff in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.
Thanks for joining us and we’ll see you again tomorrow.
Man drowns at Sydney beach and two others taken to hospital
A man has drowned and two others have been taken to hospital after being rescued from the water at a Sydney beach, AAP reports.
The three men were swimming with friends at Shelly Beach in Cronulla when they got into difficulty in the sea.
Two were pulled from the water unconscious and were treated at the scene.
One of the men, who is yet to be identified, died at the scene while the other was taken to hospital.
A third man was also taken to hospital.
Police are investigating and will prepare a report for the coroner.
The fatality is the latest in a horror summer on Australia’s beaches as authorities warn people to swim between the flags and avoid mixing alcohol and swimming.
Three hundred people were rescued from the water in NSW on Australia Day alone.
Royal Life Saving Australia estimates there have been more than 50 drownings across the country this summer.
‘Protected’ vintage Holden cars face export ban
A series of vintage Holdens up for auction face an export ban if they are given “protected” cultural status, AAP reports.
Lloyds Auctions says it plans to put the vehicles under the hammer on Sunday as part of a larger classic cars sale.
But the federal government says some of the Holdens – valued in the millions – could be classified as Australian protected objects.
The protected status bars objects of significant importance to Australia from being exported.
Other objects that enjoy the same status include sacred Indigenous artefacts, pieces of Ned Kelly’s armour and Victoria Cross honours awarded to war veterans.
Lloyds’ chief operations officer, Lee Hames, says the collection of vintage cars, which includes the Holdens, is worth tens of millions of dollars.
“We have notified all foreign bidders and interested parties that they face possible challenges in exporting some of these special classics,” he says.
WA officials believe radioactive capsule is on the road somewhere along truck’s 1,400km route
Dr Andrew Robertson says the most likely scenario is the capsule is on the road somewhere along the 1,400km route the truck travelled.
I think we are very confident that if it is somewhere along that route, we will find it. But, you know, there are a number of variables here, it could have been knocked further out into the bush, it could have been picked up and carried in a tyre wheel in another direction. We have to look at all of those options.
It is a very tiny object, and it is most likely somewhere along that 1,400km of road. The risk of somebody finding it is actually very low. But we still felt it was important that people did not, you know, inadvertently pick it up.
Radioactive capsule wasn't discovered missing until more than two weeks after it left Rio Tinto mine site
Back with Darryl Ray, the acting superintendent of the Department of Fire and Emergency Services. He says it was two weeks before anyone realised the capsule was missing.
He says the capsule and container were packed on a pallet on the mine site on 10 January. It arrived in Perth on the 16th and was transferred to a radiation service company. It sat there until 25 January when it was opened.
It was not until the 25th, late morning, when they opened it up to reveal that the device had fallen apart, was damaged in transit, and that the actual capsule was discovered missing, which is when authorities were first notified.
Authorities don’t know when capsule fell off back of truck
Robertson says authorities do not know which date the capsule fell off the back of the truck it was being carried on.
Authorities believe vibrations during the journey caused screws in the container the capsule was being carried in to come loose.
We’re not confident what day. The other issue is, even if it has fallen off late in the trip, you know, it may have been picked up by other traffic or it could have gone in other directions.
Public should not handle the capsule if found: WA chief health officer
Western Australia’s chief health officer, Dr Andrew Robertson, says many surveys have been conducted over the past two days to try to find the capsule.
He says if a member of the public was to find it “we are very keen that they do not handle it”.
The source is most dangerous if it is handled or if it is close to the body. If you are further than five metres away from the source, certainly if you are more than 20 metres away from the source, it will pose no danger to you.
If it is closer than that, and we strongly discourage people from picking it up, certainly don’t put it in your pocket or put it in your car, don’t put it on your sideboard, it will continue to radiate.
He says if anyone finds the capsule they should move away from it and contact 13DFES and report it.
Missing radioactive capsule still not found, authorities using GPS data to try and locate it
In Perth, the department of Fire and Emergency Services is giving an update on the missing radioactive capsule.
Acting superintendent Darryl Ray says it still has not been found.
He says authorities have continued “research on strategic sites along the route that the vehicle taken, concentrating on sites close to high population areas within the metropolitan suburbs.”
We are not trying to find a tiny little device by eyesight. We are using the radiation detectors to locate the gamma rays, using the metres, that will help us then locate the small device. We have secured the GPS data from the trucking company to determine the exact route and stops that the vehicle has taken on its journey.
NSW Labor pledges domestic violence support centre in Sydney’s south-west
NSW Labor has pledged it will build a domestic violence support centre in Sydney’s south-west for migrant and refugee women if it defeats Dominic Perrottet’s government in March.
The opposition leader, Chris Minns, said it was difficult starting a new life in Australia as a migrant or refugee, but even more difficult for domestic violence victims.
“People who are facing domestic and family violence should never be left behind,” he said.
The Settlement Services International centre echoed similar support for migrant and refugee victim-survivors in Victoria and Queensland.
One in three migrant and refugee women experience domestic violence and there has been a 5.7% jump in domestic violence-related assaults in south-west Sydney, which is home to a large multicultural community.
The opposition women’s spokeswoman, Jodie Harrison, said the proposal would bring NSW in line with best practice.
“Migrant and refugee women experiencing domestic and family violence face specific challenges relating to visa status, a lack of trusted social networks as well as language and cultural barriers to reporting,” she said.
Average Help debt forecast to increase by at least $1,700 when indexed
Millions of Australians with Higher Education Loan Program (Help) loans could face thousands of dollars in extra debt this year as soaring inflation hits the education sector.
Independent modelling provided to Guardian Australia suggests Australians with an average Help debt of $24,770.75 will face an increase of at least $1,700 when it is next indexed on 1 June, assuming, as is likely, that living costs remain high.
Help – previously the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (Hecs) – is tied to inflation, increasing proportionately in line with the consumer price index (CPI). Inflation is currently growing at 7.8% – the fastest pace since just before the 1990s recession.
Indexation of debts occurs annually on 1 June. With inflation at its current rate, they’re forecast to be indexed by at least 7%.
Read more of Caitlin Cassidy’s piece here:
Controversial US prisons operator wins $420m Australian government contract for Nauru
The controversial US private prisons operator running Australia’s offshore processing regime on Nauru has been handed a $420m Australian government contract to run “garrison and welfare” on the island for three years, managing fewer than 70 people.
The Australian arm of Management and Training Corporation (MTC) was awarded the contract despite a string of scandals in the US, my colleagues Ben Doherty and Christopher Knaus report.
Read their exclusive here:
Driver charged after cyclist dies in Victoria’s north-east
A woman has been charged after a male cyclist died following a car accident in Victoria’s north-east, AAP reports.
Police charged the 22-year-old Rutherglen woman with dangerous driving causing death after the 59-year-old cyclist was struck while riding in Lilliput about 8.20am on Friday.
Police said the driver stopped to assist but the cyclist died at the scene.
The driver has been bailed to appear at Wodonga magistrates court on 31 January for a filing hearing.
Police are urging anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers.
Liberals set to win Victorian seat of Narracan in vote delayed by death of Nationals candidate
Voters in the Victorian electorate of Narracan are casting their ballots in a contest the Liberal party is expected to win easily to retain its safest seat, AAP reports.
The poll for the lower house seat in the West Gippsland region was deferred five days out from the election in November last year when the Nationals candidate, Shaun Gilchrist, died unexpectedly.
It was later revealed the 47-year-old was scheduled to appear in the county court on sexual offence charges, with a trial date set for June 2023.
The state Nationals leader, Peter Walsh, said at the time the party was not aware of the charges when Gilchrist was endorsed.
Labor and the Nationals are not contesting the seat in Saturday’s supplementary election, with the Liberal candidate, Wayne Farnham, expected to win easily against 10 other candidates.
A win in Narracan would give the Coalition 28 members in the 88-seat lower house when parliament returns in early February.
Queenslanders urged to buy pineapples so bumper crop isn’t wasted
There is a pineapple glut and the Queensland government is asking residents of the state to help by adding the fruit to their shopping lists.
Mark Furner, the minister for agricultural industry development and fisheries and minister for rural communities, said Queensland’s pineapple industry had grown such a bumper crop that there was a serious risk tonnes of fruit would go to waste:
Our farmers support thousands of good jobs and work tirelessly to grow the world’s best produce and it would be a terrible shame to see those efforts going to waste.
I’m calling on every Queenslander to add Queensland pineapples to their shopping list, whether it’s at the supermarket, the farmers market or your local fruit and vegetable shop.
Kangaroo Island ‘hidden gem’ named Australia’s best beach
It is home to one of the most famous wine regions in the country and for the first time ever South Australia has claimed the award for Australia’s best beach, AAP reports.
The picturesque and secluded Stokes Bay beat almost 12,000 beaches nationwide to be crowned Australia’s best beach for 2023 as judged by the Tourism Australia beach ambassador Brad Farmer.
Touted by locals as Kangaroo Island’s “hidden gem” and hailed for its family-friendly appeal, Stokes Bay features a tidal swimming pool that makes it ideal for wading and snorkelling.
Second place went to NSW’s Boomerang Beach, near Forster on the mid-north coast, with Rainbow Beach, on Queensland’s Cooloola coast, third.
Rio Tinto says it learned radioactive capsule was missing when told by contractor
Rio Tinto, the operator of the Gudai-Darri mine site, which is north of Newman in the Pilbara, has confirmed the radioactive capsule which went missing from a truck was being transported by a contractor from the mine site to a storage facility in the Perth suburb of Malaga.
A spokesperson said the mining company was informed of the missing capsule on 25 January and that it was being handled by a contractor at the time:
Rio Tinto was informed of the missing capsule by a contractor on 25 January. The contractor, an expert radioactive materials handler, was engaged by Rio Tinto to handle and package the capsule and transport it safely off site.
Safety is our highest priority, and we are working with and supporting the Radiological Council, the contractors involved, as well as emergency services to assist in the search.
Western Australia’s chief health officer, Andrew Robertson, yesterday said the small silver cylinder was a 19-becquerel caesium 137 ceramic source commonly used in radiation gauges.
Robertson said the unit emits about two millisieverts of radiation per hour, which is the equivalent of having 10 X-rays an hour, and long-term exposure could cause cancer.
A radioactive substance health warning has been issued along the truck’s 1,200km freight route.
“We are starting to comb roads and other areas in the search zones, specifically Great Northern Highway in Perth’s north-east,” David Gill, a Department of Fire and Emergency Services superintendent, said yesterday.
Auckland police confirm two people dead and two missing in flood waters
Torrential rain in Auckland has left two people dead and two missing, police confirmed on Saturday, following widespread flooding across New Zealand’s largest city, AFP reports.
The bodies of two men were found in flood waters in separate incidents in a northern suburb, police said.
The flooding also swept a man away in a community south of Auckland, and another person is unaccounted for after a landslide brought down a house in the city centre.
The new prime minister, Chris Hipkins, said in a statement: “My thoughts are with everyone in Auckland as they wake up this morning to survey the damage and as they face an uncertain day ahead.”
Read more here:
Russell Crowe announces Aacta awards to move to the Gold Coast
Good morning, Lisa Cox here.
The Queensland government has announced the state is taking over as host of Australia’s film and television awards. The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (Aacta) awards and the Aacta International awards will move to the Gold Coast for three years from February next year.
The awards were previously held in Sydney and Los Angeles respectively. It will be the first time the two awards ceremonies are held as a combined event.
Announcing the deal with the Australian Film Institute, the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said the state was building an international reputation as “the place to film world-class cinema and television content”.
The tourism minister, Stirling Hinchliffe, said it was a major coup for the state’s screen and tourism industries:
Aacta president Russell Crowe, vice-president Nicole Kidman and ambassador Cate Blanchett will lead a glittering lineup of talent on the Gold Coast, generating $3.4m for the visitor economy.
And with that, I will leave the blog in the hands of Lisa Cox. Thanks for reading.
Two men stabbed during confrontation in Sydney’s west
Two men are in a critical condition in hospital after being stabbed during a confrontation in Sydney’s west, AAP reports.
Police said emergency services were called to Main Street in Blacktown at about 12.15am on Saturday to find two men, aged 48 and 34, on the footpath with stab wounds.
The older man suffered injuries to his neck and shoulder while the younger man sustained back wounds. They were taken to Westmead hospital in critical but stable conditions.
Police have established a crime scene which is being examined by specialist forensic officers.
Tony Burke announces authors to be paid when libraries hold e-books and audiobooks
AAP is reporting authors and publishers will be paid when libraries hold their e-books and audiobooks as part of the federal government’s upcoming national cultural policy.
The $12.9m move extends Australia’s existing lending rights schemes to include digital content, making it one of a handful of countries in the world to include them.
The arts minister, Tony Burke, said authors will be paid the same way they are when libraries hold their physical books.
“The law has not kept up to date. That’s why we’re changing it – to ensure that Australian authors, writers and publishers are properly compensated for their work,” Burke said. “Australia’s new national cultural policy will ensure that artists are treated fairly as workers and properly paid for it.”
The national cultural policy will be launched on Monday following a consultation process that attracted more than 1,200 submissions, about 10% of them from writers.
A recent Macquarie University survey of Australian writers found they earned $18,200 a year on average from their creative output. According to the Australian Society of Authors, most are unable to make a living from their work.
The society’s chief executive, Olivia Lanchester, welcomed the changes.
“We’re delighted because we’ve pushed hard for this expansion and, to be honest, it is sorely needed,” she said.
The society has also called for a national plan and funding for Australian literature, tax reforms to support creators and minimum standards for Australian content in schools.
It’s not yet clear whether these measures will also form part of the cultural policy but the government has promised the lending rights changes are the first of several measures.
One of more than 150 writers who took part in the consultation process, children’s author Meg McKinlay, said lending rights made up about a quarter of her total annual income.
The lending rights scheme was introduced by the Whitlam government in 1974 to compensate authors and publishers when their work was accessed for free in libraries but had only applied to printed works.
Perrottet promises easier access to housing for domestic violence victims
NSW domestic violence victims will have easier access to housing through concessions on stamp duty and rental bond loans if the Perrottet government is re-elected, AAP reports.
The proposal aims to help get domestic violence victim-survivors into their own homes as they flee abusive relationships.
The premier, Dominic Perrottet, said one of the first steps for victim-survivors was finding a safe home.
“We want to make it easier for those people leaving an abusive relationship to be able to rebuild their lives, as well as the lives of their children,” he said.
The NSW government would waive the Rentstart Bond Loan eligibility criteria for people fleeing domestic violence.
The loan scheme allows renters to access interest-free state government loans for bonds.
Victim-survivors will also be able to access both the First Home Buyer Choice and First Home Buyer Assistance schemes, even if they previously accessed them with their abusive partner.
The choice program allows home buyers to elect to pay either a stamp duty or an annual land tax when they buy a home, while the assistance scheme provides concessions or complete waivers of stamp duty.
“It’s a small change that can make a big difference to helping victim-survivors buy a home to call their own,” the women’s safety minister, Natalie Ward, said.
Housing has been at the centre of the major parties’ pitches for the state election in March.
Australia and Germany announce green hydrogen project funding
Reuters is reporting that Australia and Germany have earmarked A$50m ($35.5m) and €50m ($54.4m), respectively, towards a joint initiative to establish a green hydrogen supply chain, the Australian minister for climate change and energy, Chris Bowen, has said.
The two countries, which signed a bilateral alliance on hydrogen production and trade in June 2021, announced funding for four projects under the German–Australian Hydrogen Innovation and Technology Incubator (HyGATE) initiative.
The collaboration further helps Australia strengthen its renewable energies export infrastructure while allowing Germany to meet its growing energy needs via cleaner sources.
Green hydrogen is made by using electrolysers powered by renewable energy to split water.
Of the earmaked funds, Australian cleantech firm Vast Solar and Solar Methanol Consortium won grants worth A$19.48m and €13.2m, respectively, to develop a 10MW electrolyser producing green hydrogen for solar methanol production in Port Augusta, South Australia.
Another grant recipient, Hysata, an electrolyser company, was awarded A$8.98m to work with Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology to develop a new “capillary-fed” electrolyser to deliver low-cost hydrogen in Port Kembla, New South Wales.
Currently, data from the office of the chief economist at the federal Department of Industry, Science and Resources, showed hydrogen projects made up for A$266bn of potential investment from the total value of as much as A$705bn of resource and energy projects in the pipeline in Australia.
“Working hand-in-hand with our international partners will help Germany to phase out coal-fired power generation by 2038 and aid Australia to reach net zero by 2050,” said Bettina Stark-Watzinger, the German minister of education and research.
Libby Mettam to challenge David Honey for leadership of Western Australia's Liberal party
AAP is reporting that the decision by Western Australia’s opposition leader to stand down has prompted one of the state’s two Liberal MPs in the lower house to challenge for the party leadership.
Mia Davies announced her resignation on Friday, saying she didn’t have enough “fuel left in the tank” to go on.
Davies is also stepping down as the leader of the WA Nationals, but will remain on the backbench until the 2025 election.
Her decision has prompted the Liberal deputy leader, Libby Mettam, to challenge David Honey for the party leadership.
The Liberals were hammered at the 2021 state election, winning only two seats in WA’s lower house to the Nationals’ four.
Both parties formed an opposition alliance with Davies as opposition leader.
Following the resignation, Mettam emailed Honey saying she was challenging him for the party leadership and requesting a special partyroom meeting for Tuesday. She forwarded the email to her seven upper house colleagues.
“I believe we have not been as effective as we should have been and change is required now to allow the Liberal party to develop a strong, diverse, connected and competitive team,” Mettam wrote.
“It is my view that a leadership change is done as a matter of urgency, as we see an increasingly arrogant and self-serving government that takes West Australians for granted.”
Davies told reporters on Friday night she had spent the summer thinking about her parliamentary career and what it would take to contest the March 2025 state election.
“I don’t have any fuel left in the tank to go beyond that election.”
Auckland residents brace for more flooding amid state of emergency
Residents in Auckland are bracing for more flooding as heavy rain continued overnight, after a state of emergency was declared yesterday.
In a statement declaring the state of emergency, the Auckland mayor, Wayne Brown, said the extent of the “damage, displacement and disruption” had left emergency services overwhelmed:
The region has experienced widespread damage from flooding and torrential rain, with reports of slips and inundation.
Infrastructure and emergency services alike have been overwhelmed by the impacts of the storm.
Police said on Friday night that a body had been found on the city’s north shore, “after the body was seen by a member of the public”, but did not confirm whether the person had died as a result of flooding.
You can read more on the emergency at the link below:
Man dies after Mornington Peninsula cliff fall
AAP is reporting that a man has died and another is in hospital after falling from a cliff on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.
Police said the 24-year-old men from New South Wales were climbing a cliff face in Cape Schanck, just off the Two Bays walking track at Bushrangers Bay, when they fell about 7pm on Friday.
CPR was performed on one of the men, but he died at the scene.
The surviving man was taken to hospital where he is being treated for injuries.
An investigation is under way to determine what caused the fall, however police said it is not being treated as suspicious.
First Peoples Assembly of Victoria head says ‘vast majority’ of Indigenous Australians want voice to parliament
Marcus Stewart, head of the largest elected Aboriginal organisation in Australia, the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, has spoken to the Australian today, saying that the “vast majority” of Indigenous communities around the country want a voice to parliament.
Speaking after a week in which the potential voice has faced some opposition at Invasion Day rallies, Stewart said he did not attend the rallies because he knew that a “handful of wreckers” intended to speak out.
The Aboriginal community is not a homogeneous group – we have a variety of opinions and everyone is entitled to share their views, but we can’t lose perspective that the vast majority of Aboriginal people want a voice to parliament.
Having a voice is about putting Aboriginal people in the driver’s seat. We want to be able to make the decisions that affect our communities and culture and our land.
Jim Chalmers says budget will have ‘much bigger focus’ on disadvantage
The federal treasurer, Jim Chalmers, was on the Guardian’s political podcast, where he said he will use the May budget to push for a “much bigger focus” on addressing disadvantage in Australia’s most vulnerable communities.
He said he was working with the social services minister, Amanda Rishworth, on a new series of measures that would look to empower communities struggling with disadvantage:
I have always thought if I get a crack at a job like the one I have now, and I know Amanda [Rishworth] and others think the same way … the best way to shift the needle on entrenched disadvantage is to go where it is most prevalent.
There’s a lot of great work going on around the community, in the philanthropic sector and in other places. We want to show some leadership here if we can … [and] this is something I care deeply about.
You think about an unemployment rate of 3.5% – there are still people who are not accessing the opportunity of an economy that is creating the fastest jobs growth for the first six months of the Albanese government of any government on record.
You can read more on his interview at the link below:
Good morning, Mostafa Rachwani with you this morning, to take you through the news today.
Father was 'misused by people', says Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic says his father was “misused by this group of people” after Djokovic Sr was absent from his son’s semi-final victory in the Australian Open last night.
Djokovic has admitted that the scrutiny around his father, Srdjan Djokovic, at the Australian Open affected him in the build up to his semi-final victory over Tommy Paul last night.
Djokovic Sr had been filmed after Djokovic’s quarter-final taking a photograph with a spectator who wore a “Z” symbol T-shirt and held a Russian flag containing a photo of Vladimir Putin’s face. “It has got to me, of course,” said Djokovic. “I was not aware of it till last night. Then, of course, I was not pleased to see that.”
Robert Horvath, a specialist in Russian politics at La Trobe University, said the Putin supporters who posed with Djokovic’s father were determined to “create the impression of a groundswell of overseas support for the Putin regime and its war in Ukraine”.
“Novak’s father’s actions have been misrepresented on some pro-Kremlin Russian nationalist platforms such as Tsargrad TV, which claims that he addressed Zaldostanov and declared ‘long live Russians’,” Horvath said.
“Some coverage has taken the line that the western media is vilifying Novak’s father.”
Meanwhile, a Djokovic fan who wore a black T-shirt with the “Z” symbol at the Australian Open earlier this week – a sign of support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – was allowed to return to watch the semi-final on Friday night.
Ukrainian player Alex Dolgopolov has previously called for the Djokovic fan to be permanently banned from the grand slam, tweeting: “this guy will get banned for life, at least for all Australian events, right?”.
Australian Open officials escorted the man away from his front-row seats towards the end of Djokovic’s last set against American Tommy Paul, but, after a brief discussion, he was allowed to return to his seats.
Tennis Australia was contacted for comment. Earlier this week, a spokesperson urged players and their teams to avoid situations that “have the potential to disrupt” the Australian Open. Russian flags and symbols have been banned at the tournament.
The Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations co-chair, Stefan Romaniw, said Tennis Australia needed to be vigilant about enforcing its rules.
“There will always be those who will constantly test the system. Tennis Australia must be diligent and remove anyone who is not abiding by the rules,” Romaniw said.
Police officers and security kept watch of celebrations outside Rod Laver on Friday night, where Novak Djokovic’s father had posed with Putin supporting Russian flags earlier in the week. One of those supporters was wearing a similar shirt with the “Z” logo.
Good morning and welcome to the live blog. I’m Martin Farrer and here are the main breaking stories overnight.
In an interview with Guardian Australia, Jim Chalmers has promised to use the May budget to tackle entrenched disadvantage in Australia’s most vulnerable communities to ensure people have better pathways to economic participation. The treasurer told our weekly politics podcast that he was working with the social services minister, Amanda Rishworth, on a new package that would “identify some of the most vulnerable communities in our country, work out how to empower local leaders and pool our resources and make a meaningful difference to some on the entrenched disadvantage that’s in our country”.
Hazardous material experts are combing a remote highway in Western Australia for a tiny radioactive capsule that has gone missing as it was transported from a mine. The 8mm by 6mm capsule, which is believed to have fallen from a truck as it was travelling the 1,400km between a mine site north of Newman in the Pilbara and a depot in Perth, has the potential to cause skin burns. Drones able to detect radiation have been deployed in the search.
Auckland has been placed in a state of emergency after torrential rain caused widespread flooding and brought chaos to the city. Homes have been evacuated amid a deluge that has blocked motorways, flooded roads and neighbourhoods, forced the closure of city’s airport and huge disruption to flights, and prompted organisers to cancel a scheduled concert by Elton John, leaving many concertgoers stranded.