10 Jan 2023

Pacific news in brief for January 10

12:06 pm on 10 January 2023
Fiji Police

Fiji police vehicle Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Fiji police recover bodies from a river

Fiji police have recovered the body of an 8-year-old child who was swept away in the Korociri River whilst fishing.

Fiji Village reports that police had earlier said the body of another child, aged 7, was recovered and the body of the 59-year-old woman that accompanied the two children was recovered on Saturday night.

Police have acknowledged the support of members of the community who came forward to assist with search efforts.

More earthquake awareness education needed in Vanuatu

There are calls for more public education campaigns in Vanuatu on earthquake preparedness, following a magnitude-7 earthquake on Sunday night.

Sanma Province resident Lily Lui said she could barely stand when trying to escape.

She said everyone ran out of the building while it was shaking because they did not know what to do.

She said communication from authorities was scarce, and she wants more awareness about what to do during a quake.

"Getting authorities to continually giving advice and awareness so people are alert of these kind of earthquakes," she said.

New Caledonia starts 2023 without a daily newspaper

New Caledonia has started the new year without a daily newspaper, as the local daily has ceased production of its print edition.

Les Nouvelles Caledoniennes, which was established in 1971, remains as an online publication.

The change has also prompted the closure of the Pacifique Rotative printing shop, with the loss of 22 jobs.

The paper was part of the French Hersant publishing company until 2012, when it was sold to local interests in Noumea.

The Nouvelles Caledoniennes suffered from declining advertising revenue while costs, including that of newsprint, went up.

Attempts to find new investors were unsuccessful.

Quake off Indonesian region

A magnitude 7-point-6 offshore earthquake has struck the Indonesia region.

The US Geological Survey records the shake to the northwest of the Pulau islands, at a depth of just over 95 kilometres.

The quake struck in the early hours of Tuesday, local time.

The US Geological Survey forecast a low likelihood of casualties and damage.

CNMI bank returns grant funds due to concerns

In the Northern Marianas, the Bank of Saipan has returned BOOST program funding of just over $US850,000.

In a letter addressed to the acting finance secretary, the Bank of Saipan said that following the BOOST program and applications recommended by the grant review panel and approved by the former governor, the bank cut 28 award cheques in the amount of $US831,000 which have not been distributed.

The CNMI Building Optimism Opportunity and Stability Together or BOOST program grant provides financial assistance to local businesses and non-profit organizations.

The bank has voided the award cheques and has ceased issuing award cheques altogether, given concerns about the BOOST program.

It has also returned the remaining balance of BOOST funds, just over $US25,000.

The bank said the decision on what to do with these cheques properly belongs to the Marianas government.

BOOST was intended to support the viability of those businesses and the employment opportunities they offer residents of the CNMI, to further the government's goal of a diverse economy, and to increase commonwealth tax revenues.

Pacific Games confirms basketball line-up

Organisers of the Pacific Games have confirmed the eight-team line-up for its basketball competition for both men and women.

On the men's side, the countries that qualified for the tournament are Guam, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, French Polynesia, Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga.

On the women's side Guam, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, The Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, Samoa, French Polynesia and New Caledonia are set to play.

The Pacific Games serves as a qualifying event for the Asian Cup and in turn for the FIBA World Cup.

The Games are scheduled to begin on November 19.