News briefs:June 16, 2008

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Scores dead, thousands flee as flooding spreads across southern China[edit]

Over 50 people have been confirmed dead and at least one million people have fled from their homes as a result of heavy flooding across much of southern China.

In the Guangdong and Jiangxi provinces alone, at least 6,000 homes have been submerged and destroyed by the flood.

Further rainfall is expected to occur throughout the next ten days.

RAF Harrier jet crashes in Rutland, England, pilot survives[edit]

A Royal Navy pilot has safely ejected from his Harrier GR7 aircraft moments before it crashed in a field near the small village of Ashwell in England. The crash occurred at about 1350 BST today.

The pilot was taken by air ambulance to Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham for treatment for spinal injuries.

Local resident Vic Harrison spoke to the BBC about the incident: "I thought he didn't stand a chance, but I looked up and saw the parachute of the pilot. I really thought he had hit the houses. It was a narrow miss - it must have been just 400 yards from our house. It has been an exceptionally lucky escape."

The plane, from the nearby RAF Cottesmore airbase, was on a training mission and is said not to have been carrying any weapons.

Senior intelligence official suspended after leaving top secret files on train[edit]

A senior intelligence official in the United Kingdom has been suspended from his job pending an investigation into top secret documents that were left on a commuter train on Tuesday. The Cabinet Office confirmed that the documents, including reports on Al-Qaeda and Iraqi security forces, had been found on the train and handed in to the offices of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), who turned the files in to police.

According to the BBC, one of the documents, a seven-page report entitled "Al-Qaeda Vulnerabilities", was classified "UK Top Secret" and had every page numbered and labelled "for UK/US/Canadian and Australian eyes only". The other document, "Iraqi Security Forces: More or Less Challenged?", had been commissioned by the Ministry of Defence, which the BBC's security correspondent, Frank Gardner, described as being "damning" in parts. Both were produced by the Joint Intelligence Committee, a government organisation designed to present information from several British intelligence services to ministers and senior officials.

The person believed to be responsible for the breach works for the Cabinet Office's intelligence and security unit, which contributes to the Joint Intelligence Committee. He had authority to take classified documents out of the Cabinet Office, under strict security procedures. The Metropolitan Police are investigating the incident, which the Conservative Party's security spokeswoman, Dame Pauline Neville-Jones called "the latest in a long line of serious breaches of security involving either the loss of data, documents or Government laptops".

The Cabinet Office's admission of the breach came on the same day the UK government voted on a resolution allowing authorities to detain terror suspects for up to 42 days without charge.

Australian government considers controlling fuel supplies[edit]

The gas crisis in Western Australia deepens with more business standing people down without pay. Businesses have been instructed to turn off non-essential items including limiting the number of lifts and reduced lighting, domestic customers are urged to reduce energy use.

In the Federal parliament today Resources Minister Martin Ferguson raised the prospect of activating the Liquid Fuel Emergency Act, saying "During such a situation, I can control the production, transfer and stock levels of crude and liquid fuel...While I sincerely hope that this will not be required, the Liquid Fuel Emergency Act provides authority for the Australian Government to prepare for and manage a national liquid fuel emergency supply"

WA Premier Alan Carpenter called on Western Australians to cut back on energy usage saying that situation can be managed with on going co-operation, while reassuring Western Australians that the crisis will be short. Supplies were interupted after a fire at Apache's Vanarus Island refinery which supplied 30% of the states natural gas requirements.

Temporary restraining order stops demolition of partially collapsed building in Buffalo, New York[edit]

In an exclusive report, Wikinews has learned that a restraining order won by area residents has temporarily stopped the emergency demolition of a three story building which partially collapsed on Wednesday, June 11, 2008 in Buffalo, New York. The collapse caused at least 15 homes surrounding the property to be evacuated

During the early afternoon hours on June 11, the Buffalo Fire Department was called to scene at 428 Jersey Avenue after residents called 9-1-1 stating that part of a building had collapsed. A large portion of a former livery and stable had collapsed into the yards of at least four houses that surround the stable. Some of the bricks landed inside the building, while some fell into the yards of some houses behind homes on Richmond Avenue, leaving a 'V' shape.

According to savethelivery.com, a website set up and dedicated to "saving part of this historic structure", the restraining order was granted on Saturday, forcing demolition crews to halt their work. The site also states that court papers will be filed on Monday in an attempt to hold the owner Bob Freudenheim responsible for the damage done to the building, and surrounding properties. The site states that Freudenheim has neglected the building for "the last twenty years."