World Briefs: Bush fires rage on in south-east Australia

Bush fires rage on in south-east Australia

SYDNEY • Australian authorities urged people to remain alert as bush fires that have destroyed dozens of homes, killed cattle and forced hundreds of residents to flee continued to burn out of control in the south-east of the country.

No deaths or serious injuries were reported yesterday but the bush fires have caused extensive damage in rural areas of Victoria and New South Wales, Australia's two most populous states.


Less strict dress code for Saudi women

RIYADH • Women in Saudi Arabia need not wear head cover or the black abaya - the loose-fitting, full-length robes symbolic of Islamic piety - as long as their attire is "decent and respectful", the kingdom's reform-minded crown prince said.

With the ascent to power of young Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the kingdom has seen an expansion in women's rights including a decision to allow women to attend mixed public sporting events and the right to drive cars from this summer.


Frenchman faces arms charge in Israel

BEERSHEBA (Israel) • A French consulate worker was charged in an Israeli court with arms smuggling yesterday following his arrest on accusations that he transported dozens of guns from the Gaza Strip into the occupied West Bank.

Romain Franck, 23, appeared in a court in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba and was remanded until March 28. Five other suspects were also charged in the same case.


Call to improve water quality and supply

PARIS • Governments should focus on "greener" policies to improve the supply and quality of water as climate change and a growing global population threaten the water security of billions, the United Nations said yesterday.

In its 2018 World Water Development Report, the UN calculated that an estimated 3.6 billion people - nearly half the global population - live in areas where water can be scarce at least one month per year. And this number could rise to 5.7 billion by 2050, the report warned.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 20, 2018, with the headline 'World Briefs'. Print Edition | Subscribe