Shelling near MH17 site blocks Aust police

Heavy shelling around the crash site of downed Malaysian flight MH17 has forced Dutch and Australian police to scrap a planned trip, as the latest clashes in east Ukraine claim 13 lives including two children.

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The unarmed contingent of law enforcement officers were due to head to the location 10 days after the disaster following a deal with rebels aimed at allowing a long-delayed probe to go ahead.

But international observers overseeing the trip had to abruptly ditch their plans on Sunday after clashes shattered a supposed truce between government forces and insurgents in the area around the site, where some remains of the 298 victims still lie decomposing under the summer sun.

“There is fighting going on. We can’t take the risk,” said Alexander Hug, deputy chief monitor of the European security body OSCE’s special mission in Ukraine.

“The security situation on the way to the site and on the site itself is unacceptable for our unarmed observer mission,” he told reporters in the insurgent stronghold Donetsk.

Artillery bombardments could be heard just a kilometre from the rebel-held town of Grabove next to the crash site as black smoke billowed into the sky.

Terrified local residents were fleeing and checkpoints controlled by separatist fighters were abandoned.

The Dutch justice ministry confirmed that security advisers had also halted a trip by a team of forensic experts.

“Because of fighting in the area, the situation is still too unstable to work at the crash site,” the ministry said in a statement.

Earlier Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said 49 officers from the Netherlands and Australia – which together lost some 221 citizens in the crash – were due at the scene Sunday and that there would be “considerably more on site in coming days”.

That came after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said he had reached an agreement with the pro-Russian insurgents controlling the site to allow the police deployment.

So far investigators have been able to visit the site only sporadically because of security concerns, even though a truce had been called in the immediate area around the site.

Fighting was raging elsewhere as the Ukrainian army pushes on with its offensive to retake the vital industrial east.

Local authorities said 13 people including two children aged one and five were killed on Sunday in heavy fighting in rebel holdout Gorlivka, about 45 kilometres to the north of Donetsk, and which has a population of about a quarter of a million.

Mining hub Donetsk itself was also subject to heavy bombardment throughout the night, some of it apparently unguided Grad rocket fire.

The city of one million has been serving as a base for international monitors and journalists who are travelling daily to the crash site.

Ignoring safety warnings, an Australian couple had travelled to the scene without any escort on Saturday, saying they were fulfilling a promise to their only child that they would be there.

“She was full of life,” said Angela Rudhart-Dyczynski of their 25-year-old daughter Fatima, an aerospace engineering student.

Dutch authorities, who are leading the probe into the downing of the Amsterdam-to-Kuala Lumpur plane, have identified the first victim, after 227 coffins were flown to the Netherlands for identification.

The insurgents have also handed over a sealed train carriage filled with victims’ belongings to the Dutch.

In Brussels, the European Union is drafting tougher sanctions against Russia – which it accuses of abetting the insurgency by arming the rebels who allegedly shot down the aircraft.

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Ricciardo wins dramatic Hungarian GP

 

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso took a fighting second and Rosberg, who had started on pole position looking like a runaway winner, finished fourth and saw his 14 point lead over Hamilton trimmed to 11.

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The German was caught out by two safety car interventions that turned the race on its head – and also by Hamilton refusing to give anything away despite being asked controversially to let him through.

With eight races to go, and double points for the last in Abu Dhabi, Rosberg has 202 points to Hamilton’s 191. Mercedes have a 174-point lead over champions Red Bull in the constructors’ standings.

Ricciardo, a revelation in his first year at Red Bull, bellowed in elation after he took the chequered flag 5.2 seconds ahead of Alonso for his second win of the season and his career.

“It feels as good as the first, it really does,” beamed the Australian, who was triumphant in Canada in June, after a rollercoaster of a race packed with incident.

“The safety car at the beginning played to our advantage…when the second one came out it didn’t really help us, but we managed to pull it off at the end.”

All of the top four had led over the course of a race that started after a brief downpour, was interrupted by two big crashes, continued with the ever-present threat of rain and finished on a knife-edge.

Just 6.3 seconds separated the top four, with Hamilton crossing the line just half a second clear of Rosberg.

 

TYRE GAMBLE

Ricciardo, who had led earlier in the race and was on fresher tyres, swept past Hamilton three laps from the end and then overtook a determined Alonso to regain the lead for good.

“We took a gamble. We risked today just trying to get the victory and we went very close,” said Alonso of his second podium finish of the season.

“We need some crazy races to get some podiums and today we took the opportunity.”

Behind them, Rosberg – who made three stops to Alonso and Hamilton’s two – was closing in remorselessly and was all over the back of his team mate’s car as they started the final lap.

Hamilton hung on for a podium finish that had looked improbable on Saturday, but he was unhappy with his team for asking him to let Rosberg through with a third of the race remaining.

The German had yet to make his final stop, whereas Hamilton had done his final tyre change already and knew Rosberg was sure to come back at him with a vengeance in the closing stages.

“I’m not letting him past me, if he gets close enough to overtake he can overtake,” Hamilton had said over the radio.

In the end Rosberg did not get close enough to pass and eventually pitted.

“Just because he had one more stop than me doesn’t mean I am not in same race,” Hamilton told reporters later. “I was very, very shocked that the team would ask me to do that.

“But to be honest he didn’t get close enough to overtake. I was never going to lift off and lose ground to Fernando or Daniel to enable him to have a better race.”

Hamilton, who had won for the last two years in Hungary and was chasing a record fifth win in the country, had finished third in Germany last weekend after starting 20th and he said he was pushing as hard as he could to see where he ended up.

The Briton started from the pitlane, behind Danish rookie Kevin Magnussen whose McLaren was also moved off the grid, after his car caught fire in qualifying without completing a lap.

He spun at the second corner, skimming the wall with his front wing, and was 21 seconds down on Rosberg after the first lap with a mountain to climb.

By lap seven Hamilton was up to 14th and events played into his hands when the safety car was deployed after Sweden’s Marcus Ericsson crashed his Caterham at turn three.

While the top four decided not to pit, in what proved out to be a game changer, Hamilton and others did. Ricciardo then took the lead when they came in a lap later.

Frenchman Romain Grosjean kept the safety car out for four more laps when he crashed his Lotus on lap 11 and there was a further interruption on lap 23 when Force India’s Mexican Sergio Perez speared into the wall on the pit straight.

Brazilian Felipe Massa was fifth for Williams while Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen raced from 15th to sixth and his highest finish of a disappointing season so far.

Quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel, who spun and was lucky not to emulate Perez in crashing into the wall, was seventh after starting on the front row.

Finland’s Valtteri Bottas took seventh, ahead of Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne for Toro Rosso and McLaren’s Jenson Button.

Sauber failed to score points for the 11th race in a row while Germany’s Nico Hulkenberg crashed and drew a blank for the first time this season.

 

(Editing by Ed Osmond/Tony Goodson)

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Finance News Update, what you need to know

WORLD FINANCE UPDATE:

The Australian dollar has drifted back below 94 US cents following positive economic data out of the US.

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At 0630 AEST on Monday, the local currency was trading at 93.96 US cents, down from 94.15 cents on Friday.

And the Australian share market looks set to open lower after Wall Street tumbled following some disappointing earnings reports in a move that some analysts attributed to profit taking.

At 0645 AEST on Monday, the September share price index futures contract was down eight points at 5,522.

ELSEWHERE:

MOSCOW – The Russian central bank has moved to shield the country’s economy from tightening Western sanctions over Ukraine, raising its main interest rate in a bid to forestall a resurgence of capital flight.

WASHINGTON – Durable goods orders in the US rebounded in June from a sharp fall in May, boosted by a jump in defence aircraft orders, official data shows.

LISBON – The Portuguese parliament has passed new public sector wage cuts in a bid to meet its target of reducing the deficit.

MOSCOW – Nearly a quarter-century after McDonald’s startled and delighted Soviets with their first taste of US fast-food culture, the company is facing a law suit that could ban it from selling some of its signature products.

DETROIT – The US government’s highway safety agency has decided to seek further information from General Motors about air bag failures in some Chevrolet Impala full-size cars.

LONDON – Rupert Murdoch’s media empire 21st Century Fox has struck a mega deal with British satellite television group BSkyB to create a pan-European pay-TV giant.

SAN FRANCISCO – Audio technology veteran Bose Corporation is suing Beats Electronics over patented technology for cancelling noise in earphones.

LONDON – Anglo American has announced a tripling of first-half profits as the global miner shrugged off disruptions caused by strikes at platinum mines in South Africa.

BEIJING – The top one per cent of households in Communist-ruled China control more than one third of the country’s wealth, while the bottom 25 per cent control just one hundredth, official media said, citing an academic report.

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I’m a Dragon for real now: Benji

Benji Marshall has hailed St George Illawarra’s “surreal” win over the Wests Tigers in his first game against his former club as his final farewell from the joint venture.

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Much of the pre-game hype had revolved around the Dragons halfback taking on the side he left in emotional circumstances last year after 13 seasons, including the 2005 NRL premiership.

Marshall admitted there were moments during the Dragons’ 28-12 win on Sunday that he struggled with, before realised he was truly a Dragon now.

“It was pretty hard to prepare for it to be honest,” Marshall said

“I just tried to make it not about me this week, it was about the team needing the two points. There were times in the game where I was a little bit fazed out by the occasion but Gareth (Widdop) just took over and really stood up.

“There were just times in the game where it was a bit surreal, playing against the old club. You look across and see your mates who you played with for so long, I was just happy to get the two points.”

Dragons coach Paul McGregor said Marshall dealt with the occasion well.

“I’m comfortable with Benji. I’ve said that from day one and I’m still comfortable with Benji,” he said.

“I like the way he plays, I like the way he trains, I like the way he goes about his stuff.

“I’m very comfortable with where he was and I knew the emotion wouldn’t get hold of him because he’s a 200 game player, he’s played a lot of emotional games.”

Marshall revealed McGregor has emphasised the importance of the occasion to his Dragons teammates.

“He sort of said to the whole team that I’m one of them now, to look after me out there,” Marshall said.

“The boys did that. It wasn’t my best game but I just played a pretty basic role and Gareth brought the all-out flair.”

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Asylum seekers arrive at WA’s Curtin Detention Centre

The group, who were part of the 157 asylum seekers detained at sea for weeks on a Customs ship, arrived at the detention centre yesterday evening, a Curtin spokesman said.

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More asylum seekers are expected to arrive at Curtin today.

The Refugee Action Coalition says the asylum seekers were seen disembarking in the early afternoon on Sunday.

They were headed to the island’s airport from where they were due to be flown to Curtin detention centre in Western Australia.

“There’s no schedule, but given the lack of facilities on Cocos Island, they will probably try and get them on a plane soon – not everybody by today, but most,” spokesman Ian Rintoul told AAP.

The federal government did not confirm the movements.

The group of 157, including children, were being detained at sea since their boat was intercepted 27km from Christmas Island on July 7.

After arriving at Curtin, they will undergo identity checks by Indian consular officials.

India has agreed to take back its citizens and will consider taking Sri Lankan nationals who are Indian residents.

Australian Greens say the group has a legal right to apply for asylum in Australia.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young is travelling to Curtin in the next few days to inquire on the children’s welfare and to brief the asylum seekers of their rights.

“Just because (Prime Minister) Tony Abbott wants to trade in their lives, doesn’t make it legal,” she told reporters in Adelaide on Sunday.

Mr Abbott has said the handling of the asylum seekers is not illegal and in accordance with Australia’s international obligations.

But he stressed they could never call Australia home because they did not come the “right way”.

The decision to bring the group to land pre-empts a High Court challenge against their detention at sea.

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