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Thousands evacuated as Australian bushfires rage

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Thousands of people were being evacuated from their homes in northeast Australia on Wednesday, as bushfires raged across Queensland state amid a scorching heatwave.

Some 8,000 people were told to leave the town of Gracemere, south of the central coast area of Rockhampton, as a fast-moving blaze threatened homes.

The Bureau of Meteorology declared a “catastrophic” fire danger the highest possible risk rating in some central areas, while firefighters battled to contain more than 130 blazes across the state.



“This is a very stressful situation for families. I need you to all be strong. I need you to all listen. Your family and the protection of our community is vital,” state premier Annastacia Palaszczuk warned those told to leave.

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“So we need to reach out to community members who are frail, who are elderly, who have a disability. Please listen to authorities, it is going to get a lot worse,” she added.

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The Bureau of Meteorology said scorching temperatures had broken records across Queensland, with the state capital Brisbane reaching 37.9 degrees Celsius (100.2 degrees Fahrenheit).

At least 34 schools were closed, and authorities earlier in the day said the number of homes destroyed was likely in “single digits” but it was too early to confirm.

We will see more fires flare up very very quickly, so this is the start of it,” Queensland fire and emergency services commissioner Katarina Carroll warned those evacuating.

“It is very difficult to get a sense of how long people have in the area because the winds are picking up faster than what was expected so evolving, but very, very quickly,” she added.

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Entertainment

Release of Two Suspects shifted Jussie Smollett assault inquiry – Chicago police

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Chicago Police is requesting for fresh interview with Jussie Smollett after saying “the trajectory of the investigation” into the reported attack on the Empire actor had shifted since the release without charge of two Nigerian brothers they had detained for questioning.



Smollett lawyers responded that though the star would continue to cooperate with police, but felt “victimised” by reports he might have been involved in the attack.

“Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying,” a statement issued by law firm Todd Pugh and Victor P Henderson said.

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Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said: “We can confirm that the information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the Empire case has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation.

Smollett in his report had said he was attacked by two masked men shouting racial and anti-gay slurs and “This is MAGA (Make America Great Again) country!”.

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Crime

Ex-President Abdulla yameen apprehended for corruption in Maldives

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Formal President Abdulla Yameen has been accuse of money laundering and the state court has ordered for his arrest adding that he will remain in the state custody until the end of the trial.



Police says Abdulla Yameen has refuse to return the money despite anti-corruption watchdog intervention, and instead he fax in the money to another account which he obtained profit.

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The 59-year-old was charged with money laundering last week over claims he received $1m, stolen from state coffers in the country’s biggest-ever corruption scandal.

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In December, the police said authorities froze Yameen’s bank accounts and seized more than 100 million rufiyaas ($6m) in US dollars and local currency.

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