30 Jul 2021

In brief: news from around the Pacific

2:19 pm on 30 July 2021
Picture taken in 1971, showing a nuclear explosion in Mururoa atoll. AFP PHOTO (Photo by AFP)

Photo: AFP

No apology for nuclear testing from French president

The president of France has stopped short of apologising for his country's nuclear tests in French Polynesia between 1966 and 1996.

Emmanuel Macron, in a speech during his official Pacific territorial visit, instead said Paris owed "a debt" to French Polynesia's people and better compensation for victims of the tests.

The nuclear tests remain a deep source of resentment towards France and only 63 victims have so far received any reparations.

Fiji's $US1.78 billion Budget passed in Parliament

Fiji's 1.78 billion US-dollar national budget has been passed in Parliament.

The government says the 2021-2022 budget is designed with three objectives, all of it linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, amied at protecting Fijians from the coronavirus, supporting individuals and businesses and 'future proofing Fiji,'.

It is relying on loans to make up almost 45 percent of the funds it needs to run the country into next year.

This comes amid record daily case numbers and deaths reported by the health ministry - over 20,000 positive people are in isolation and more than 220 deaths confirmed in the outbreak that began in April.

Funded by government revenue of $US1 billion, Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said $US220 million was expected to come from direct taxes.

Sayed-Khaiyum said indirect taxes should bring in another $US530 million, the deficit of $US770 million from local and overseas loans.

Bougainville officials scale down boating accident search

The search in Papua New Guinea for a Bougainville politician and five others missing after a boating accident has now turned into a body recovery.

Airborne and maritime search and rescue efforts have proved fruitless with only a betel nut bag belonging to one of the party being found.

The missing group, including Bougainville Health Minister Charry Napto, his wife and son were on a banana boat travelling from Buka in Bougainville to Nissan Island on July 17th when it sank in rough waters.

One survivor swam 300 metres to shore on Pinipel Island.

Authorities say the search was scaled down on Tuesday as the chance of people surviving after three days is limited.

It has now been 13 days since the accident.

CNMI officials monitor volcanic activity on Pagan

The Northern Marianas Department of Public Safety has evacuated 14 residents from the island of Pagan as a precautionary measure while the island is being monitored for volcanic activity.

Press secretary Kevin Bautista said precautionary measures were taken after earthquake tremors were reported yesterday afternoon and isn't related to the 8.2-magnitude earthquake that happened in the Alaskan peninsula that same day.

A statement from the Office of the Governor said a DPS boating team is being sent out to Pagan to safely evacuate residents as volcanic activity continues to be monitored.

It says the safety and protection of the residents are a paramount priority.

The last major evacuation of Pagan was in 1981 as a result of volcanic eruptions.