Stranded penguin reported critically ill
This emperor penguin showed up Monday on a beach in New Zealand, almost 2,000 miles from home.
June 25th, 2011
11:37 AM ET

Stranded penguin reported critically ill

The lonely emperor penguin that showed up on a New Zealand beach last week is critically ill from eating sand and sticks, veterinarians told TVNZ.

The 60-pound flightless bird, nicknamed "Happy Feet" by the New Zealand media, has undergone two surgical procedures since being taken to the Wellington Zoo on Friday, TVNZ reported.

The penguin, the first of its kind seen in New Zealand in 44 years, had a 50-50 chance of surviving when it arrived at the zoo, spokeswoman Kate Baker told the New Zealand Herald.

Penguins will eat snow and ice to cool off, and that's what "Happy Feet" may have been trying to do, Colin Miskelly, terrestrial vertebrates curator at New Zealand's national museum, told TVNZ.

Conservation officials are reluctant to place "Happy Feet" with other penguins in a zoo or return it to the wild in Antarctica for fear of spreading disease, according to the Herald.

Mal Hackett, penguin keeper at the International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch, thinks the bird swam 2,000 miles from its Antarctic home because it was already sick, and she isn't optimistic about the outcome.

"I don't like his chances," she told the New Zealand Press Association. "It is a very long way from home and isn't going to return."

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Filed under: Animals • Birds • New Zealand
May 24th, 2011
08:16 AM ET

Rare white kiwi hatched in New Zealand

Manukura is a white variant, not an albino, a ranger said. The bird was hatched earlier this month.

New Zealand's national wildlife center is crowing about the appearance of Manukura, the only all-white kiwi chick among this year's large brood of 14.

The white bird hatched on May 1 at Pukaha Mount Bruce wildlife center, the highlight of the most successful breeding season since kiwi were reintroduced into the wild there in 2003, according to the New Zealand Department of Conservation.

"As far as we know, this is the first all-white chick to be hatched in captivity," Pukaha Mount Bruce Board Chairman Bob Francis said in a news release. FULL POST

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Filed under: Animals • Birds • Environment • New Zealand
New Zealand tries to identify remaining quake victims
The February 22 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, killed nearly 200 people.
May 15th, 2011
08:17 AM ET

New Zealand tries to identify remaining quake victims

There remain unidentified victims from the February 22 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, and on Monday a three-day investigation will begin in the hopes of naming those people. Police have identified 172 of the 181 victims killed in the 6.3-magnitude disaster, but there are still nine victims whose names should be registered and death certificates issued, according to the New Zealand Herald. Police have not been able to match the names of the missing with the remains, the newspaper reports.

Watch a March 3 video of the ferocious winds and other bad weather that hampered rescue attempts after the quake.

The New Zealand earthquake, the devastating March earthquake in Japan, and the 2010 Haiti earthquake have prompted the question: Why can't seismologists predict earthquakes?  Researchers say prediction is a tough nut to crack. "To make the kind of accurate, short-term predictions people want, one would need to identify a reliable precursor - some signal that we could observe that tells us that a big quake is imminent," writes Susan E. Hough, a seismologist for the U.S. Geological Survey and a science writer.

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Filed under: Earthquake • Natural Disasters • New Zealand
76 victims identified in New Zealand earthquake
February 23rd, 2011
08:15 PM ET

76 victims identified in New Zealand earthquake

Authorities in New Zealand have identified 76 victims of Tuesday's 6.3-magnitude earthquake, according to police in Christchurch. But they warn
more bodies are being recovered and identified all the time.

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Filed under: New Zealand
Wednesday's intriguing people
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is keeping the rhetoric civil.
February 23rd, 2011
12:45 PM ET

Wednesday's intriguing people

Mitch Daniels

Although he does want to limit labor unions' influence, Indiana's Republican governor has not taken the hard line of his colleagues in Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan.

Daniels has told GOP members in Indiana's General Assembly that they need not push a bill to ban forcing non-union workers to pay dues in union shops.

And when Indiana's Democratic senators, like their Wisconsin counterparts, fled the state to avoid a vote on it, he didn't rip them in the media. He said the tactic was "a perfectly legitimate part of the process," according to the Indianapolis Star.

"Even the smallest minority has every right to express the strength of its views - and I salute those who did," he said.

David Fields

For almost 28 years, the tax commissioner of Cherokee County, Georgia, loved his job - until his doctor told him it would kill him.

The 62-year-old resigned this month due to insomnia, acid reflux and crippling depression brought on by the stress of foreclosing on homes.

"I was foreclosing on the homes of people I have known my entire life," he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday.

Fields oversaw the foreclosure of nearly 100,000 homes in 2010 alone in the foothills north of Atlanta.

"I would talk to somebody or deal with something, a foreclosure or a lien, and I would just have to step out of the office to regain my composure," he said.

"I'm pretty tenderhearted," he added. "I guess I just wasn't crusty enough."

Chip Gamble

Gamble is a firefighter with the Los Angeles County Fire Department Search and Rescue unit. He is among more than 70 Californians now in Christchurch, New Zealand, trying to save people trapped after this week's magnitude 6.3 earthquake.

The unit has extensive experience in rescue and recovery - Haiti, Hurricane Katrina and 9/11, to name a few instances.

"To be able to take this mission to an international country, that's something special," Gamble told CNN affiliate KTLA.

Multiple deaths reported after New Zealand earthquake
February 21st, 2011
07:21 PM ET

Multiple deaths reported after New Zealand earthquake

[Updated at 8:47 p.m. ET] New Zealand police say there have been "multiple fatalities" after a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch Tuesday afternoon.

The deaths were reported at several locations, police said, and two buses were crushed by collapsing buildings.

The quake struck just before 1 p.m. Tuesday (7 p.m. Monday ET).

The New Zealand Herald reported that phone lines in the area were out, roads were cracked and water mains had burst.

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Filed under: New Zealand
At least 5 dead, 17 missing after ship sinks off Antarctica
December 13th, 2010
01:38 AM ET

At least 5 dead, 17 missing after ship sinks off Antarctica

A South Korean fishing vessel sank Monday in frigid ocean waters about 1,000 nautical miles north of McMurdo Station in Antarctica, killing at least 5 people while at least 20 were rescued, according to maritime officials.

A time-sensitive search was underway for another 17 people who were missing, said Maritime New Zealand spokesman Ross Henderson. While the ship sank in the Southern Hemisphere's late spring, water temperatures are just 2 degrees Celsius (35.6 degrees Fahrenheit), meaning crew members likely could only survive no more than 10 minutes before succumbing to hypothermia, authorities said.

The New Zealand agency and the Korea Coast Guard said that five people had died, 20 were rescued and 17 were missing.


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Filed under: New Zealand • South Korea
November 25th, 2010
09:08 AM ET

Boys found alive after 50 days at sea

For three boys from the Tokelau Islands the word miracle has a whole new meaning.

After going missing following a sporting event in October, and after several unsuccessful searches by New Zealand's air force, they were presumed dead. About 500 people on the island held a memorial service for them.

But for Samuel Perez and Filo Filo, both 15, and Edward Nasau, 14, this story ended in the most unbelievable way - being rescued by a tuna ship near Fiji after 50 days at sea.

Since October 5, the three survived with limited supply. They shared a single raw seagull and drank a tiny bit of rainwater. They eventually resorted to drinking small amounts of sea water, Australia's Herald Sun reported.

On Wednesday afternoon, their saga finally came to an end when the tuna boat, the San Nikunau, saw their small aluminum boat floating in the middle of open waters. They were and 750 nautical miles (1,300 km) away from where they went missing.

'We got to them in a miracle," the first mate, Tai Fredricsen, told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"They were in reasonably good spirits for how long they'd been adrift," Fredricsen told the Herald Sun. "They were very badly sunburnt. They were in the open during the day up in the tropics there. But really they just needed basic first aid."


November 22nd, 2010
04:51 PM ET

Setback reported in search for New Zealand miners

A robot dispatched to peer into the New Zealand coal mine where 29 miners are trapped has broken down inside the mine, and families of the men are "extremely frustrated," police said Tuesday morning.

The military-operated robot was expected to be a key part of the search for any survivors. But Gary Knowles, superintendent of the Tasman Police District, told reporters Tuesday morning that the robot's operators told him the probe had stopped operating.

No one has heard from the men - ages 17 to 62 - since an explosion inside the mine around 4 p.m. Friday.


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Filed under: Mine accidents • New Zealand
November 22nd, 2010
12:31 PM ET

Trapped New Zealand miner, 17, was on job for one hour

Joseph Dunbar had celebrated his 17th birthday, local media reported.

One of the 29 people trapped in a New Zealand coal mine is a teenage boy who’d only been on the job for an hour when an explosion rocked the mine.

Joseph Dunbar had celebrated his 17th birthday last Thursday, according to news reports from New Zealand.

His mother, Philippa Timms, told the New Zealand Herald that she and her son had recently moved to the area on New Zealand’s southern island to get a fresh start in life.

"We moved here for Joseph, to give him a different life, a better life," the Herald quoted her as saying. Her son’s top goal soon became getting a job at the mine, she said.

"It was a turning point in his life, he was going a little bit wayward... He got offered this chance to have a career, and that's how he saw it," a story on the TVNZ website quotes her as saying.

The teen was supposed to start his new job on Monday, but he went into the mine for a get-acquainted tour on Friday and then asked to hang around for the rest of the shift, according to news reports.

"He wanted to stay there and see how everything operated. He just wanted to be part of it," Gary Campbell, Philippa Timms partner, told TVNZ.

An explosion rocked the Pike River mine around 4 p.m. on Friday. No one has heard from the miners since. Toxic gas was lingering and hampering rescue efforts. Rescuers were hoping to get a robot into the mine soon.


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Filed under: Mine accidents • New Zealand
November 21st, 2010
09:24 PM ET

Dangerous conditions delay New Zealand coal mine rescue

A toxic mix of gasses inside a New Zealand coal mine kept frustrated rescue workers on the sidelines again Monday, as they waited for the go-ahead to try to reach 29 miners trapped underground.

No one has heard from the men - ages 17 to 62 - since an explosion inside the mine around 4 p.m. Friday afternoon. Officials hope they are alive, though they do not know if the men found a safe haven or whether parts or all of the mine collapsed.


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Filed under: Coal mining • Mine accidents • New Zealand
November 20th, 2010
11:16 AM ET

Official: Gas prevents rescue of New Zealand miners

Authorities listed the nationalities Saturday of the 29 miners trapped in a New Zealand coal mine and said gas levels inside are still too high to attempt a rescue.

Most of the miners are New Zealanders, but there are also two Australians, two Britons, and one South African, New Zealand Police said.

Air samples taken late Saturday afternoon indicated the gas levels inside the Pike River mine were still high, making the risk for rescuers too great, said Gary Knowles, superintendent of the Tasman Police District, who is heading the rescue effort.


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Filed under: Coal mining • New Zealand • World
November 19th, 2010
12:44 PM ET

Miners missing after New Zealand explosion

At least 27 miners remained missing after an underground explosion on New Zealand's west coast, company officials said Friday.

Two miners emerged from the the Pike River coal mine in Atarau, located about 90 miles northwest of Christchurch, with moderate injuries, authorities said.

No fatalities have yet been reported, but concerns over ventilation at the mine has delayed a rescue effort. A power outage might have compromised ventilation inside the mine.

"They're itching to get in there and start looking for other people and a bit frustrated at having to stand and wait," police spokeswoman Barbara Dunn said.


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Filed under: Mine accidents • New Zealand
October 18th, 2010
07:45 PM ET

Aftershock rattles Christchurch, New Zealand

An 4.7-magnitude earthquake struck 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) southwest of Christchurch, New Zealand, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, part of the continuing aftershocks from a bigger earthquake that hit the area in September.

The shocks registered 5.0 on the Richter Scale used in New Zealand, which is different from the one used by the USGS.

Phones appear to be down in the area and there are reports of power outages and building evacuations in Christchurch, the New Zealand Herald said.

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Filed under: New Zealand
September 22nd, 2010
12:57 PM ET

74 whales beached in northern New Zealand

As many as 74 pilot whales have beached themselves in northern New Zealand in the second mass stranding in the area in two months.

Rough seas and gusting winds are pushing the whales into rocks causing injuries that may force authorities to euthanize many of those that rescuers can get on the beach, said Patrick Whaley, operations manager for New Zealand’s Department of Conservation. Others are drowning in the surf along the remote beach in Spirits Bay.

“It’s heart-wrenching to have to see so many whales coming ashore and then drowning in the surf, without being able to reach them in time,” Whaley said.


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Filed under: Animals • New Zealand • Whales • World
September 4th, 2010
04:26 PM ET

Building standards make difference in quake deaths

A facade lies collapsed while another building burns Saturday morning in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Cars buried in rubble, roads ripped apart and gutted buildings are some of the startling images coming out of Christchurch, New Zealand, after a magnitude 7.0 earthquake.

But the country's system of standards and quality control for building construction may have saved the affected areas from the death and devastation endured by the people of Haiti after a 7.0 earthquake in January.

"It comes back to building standards and the quality of construction, the materials used and the quality control in the building process," said Andrew Charleson, an associate professor at the Victoria University of Wellington's School of Architecture.


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Filed under: New Zealand • World
September 3rd, 2010
02:12 PM ET

USGS: 7.0 magnitude quake hits near New Zealand

[Updated at 2:57 p.m.] For continuing coverage of the earthquake that hit Christchurch, New Zealand, read our full story here.

[Updated at 2:09 p.m.] The magnitude of the earthquake Saturday in New Zealand was 7.0, down from earlier assessments of 7.4 and 7.2, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The new assessment said the quake was 7.5 miles deep and 20 miles northwest of Christchurch.

An aftershock with a magnitude of 5.7 struck not far from the epicenter about 20 minutes later, the survey said.

Reinier Eulink, general manager of the Holiday Inn in Christchurch, said there's damage around the hotel corridors and "big cracks in the walls."

"It was a big big long jolt, and the building moved a lot," he said. The 13-floor building, with about 150 rooms, was about 40 percent occupied, and he estimated that 80 or more people were staying at the hotel at the time.

Power was knocked out, but emergency power came on. People were milling around in the hotel lobby, trying to get warm during the chilly Southern Hemisphere winter.

"My room is totally upside down," Eulink said.

A Christchurch Hospital shift manager said there are injuries and damage from the quake.

"We are in emergency planning at the moment," he said.

iReport: Are you there? Send images


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Filed under: Earthquake • New Zealand
July 26th, 2010
01:41 PM ET

Boy walking days after 16 story plunge

Less than a week after falling 16 stories from an apartment balcony, a 15-year-old New Zealand boy was walking around a hospital Monday and was expected to be released later this week, according to news reports from New Zealand.

Jason Epps-Eades, who manages the Proximity Apartments in Manukau City, New Zealand, said the teen plunged through the roof of a parking structure before hitting the concrete below, Radio New Zealand reported, which may have broken his fall and saved his life.


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Filed under: New Zealand
June 1st, 2010
10:09 AM ET

On the Radar: Oil, Israel and primaries

New Yorkers protest Israel's raid on an aid flotilla into Gaza.

Crisis in the Gulf: It's day 43, six weeks after oil begun gushing from a broken underwater pipe in the Gulf of Mexico, and BP is again trying to use a dome to funnel some of the crude to the surface. Robots began cutting wells Tuesday. BP has said the maneuvers may increase the flow of oil. Meanwhile, shares of the company plummeted in the U.S. and overseas.

An Obama administration official has warned that the worst oil spill in U.S. history might not be capped until August. The president is meeting today with former Sen. Bob Graham of Florida and former EPA Administrator William Reilly, the co-chairs of a new presidential commission investigating how to prevent another oil spill. Attorney General Eric Holder will visit the Gulf Coast to talk with federal and state prosecutors. On Monday, the federal government ordered another 1,200 square miles of the Gulf closed to fishing, extending the restricted zone toward the coasts of Alabama and Mississippi. The big question now: If it wanted to, could the Obama administration take over the cleanup?


Filed under: Alabama • Barack Obama • BP • Gaza • Gulf Coast Oil Spill • iReport • Israel • Louisiana • New Zealand • On the Radar • Turkey • World
May 13th, 2010
10:49 AM ET

New Zealand P.M. criticized for comparing tribe to cannibals

John Key made a joke at a dinner that one Maori tribe may have made him the main course.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key was facing heavy criticism Thursday after making a cannibalistic comment about a Maori tribe for the second time in a week.

Key angered the Tuhoe, a tribe of Maori, on Monday after ruling out turning over part of a national park to the tribe as part of a treaty settlement, according to a Radio New Zealand report.

On Tuesday, during a dinner meeting with another Maori tribe, the Ngati Porou, Key said he was glad he was with them instead of with the Tuhoe, who would have made him the main course. He repeated the remark as a joke during a meeting with tourism officials in Auckland on Thursday.


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Filed under: New Zealand
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