Switzerland without Senderos for Chile

Fulham’s new signing misses the Group H tie at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium with a right ankle injury picked up in Switzerland’s shock opening 1-0 defeat of World Cup favourites Spain.

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The Swiss are hoping to have Senderos back should they seal their passage to the last 16.

A second round ticket is well within their grasp after they toppled European champions Spain in Durban on Wednesday.

Midfielder Gelson Fernandes’s second half goal gave Ottmar Hitzfeld’s men a maiden win over the Spanish in 85 years.

Hitzfeld underlined the importance of Senderos though to his side when he said: “It will be very difficult to replace him.”

Swiss striker and captain Alexander Frei and midfielder Valon Behrami, who both missed the opener with injury, are once again rated doubtful for Monday’s second World Cup outing.

Chile created their own bit of history when a first half strike from Jean Beausejour gave them a 1-0 win over Honduras to end a 13-game winless run spanning four World Cups.

The South Americans’ last success in the tournament came in 1962 when they beat the then Yugoslavia to finish third as hosts.

They faced Honduras without top striker Humberto Suazo, the leading scorer in the South American qualifiers with 10 goals who has been recovering from a leg injury.

Suazo completed a full training session on Friday and is set to make his 2010 World Cup debut against the Swiss.

Suazo was sorely missed and coach Marcelo Bielsa, who is desperate to reach the second round having failed to do so in 2002 with his native Argentina, expressed concern at the 1-0 scoreline.

“If the group is decided on goal difference then we will rue the chances we missed. We could have scored more goals and we were on top.”

The 54-year-old added: “We’ll try to win the next game because the objective is to pass to the next round and start writing new records.”

Hitzfeld for his part, speaking after the Spanish KO, described Switzerland’s win as “a gift”.

“It’s great to start the tournament with three unexpected points against one of the biggest contenders for the title.

“It’s an excellent start and exactly what we needed. We’ll now go into the Chile match with resolve and a great deal of self-confidence which we need to tackle the more difficult challenges ahead.”

After Monday’s clash Chile face Spain in Pretoria on Friday with Switzerland completing their first round against Honduras in Bloemfontein the same day.

BHP, Rio Tinto agree to pay higher royalties

Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton have agreed to pay a higher iron ore royalty rate to the West Australian government, opening the way for them to integrate their Pilbara operations.

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Premier Colin Barnett on Monday announced that from July 1 the two mining giants would pay 5.625 per cent in royalties on iron ore fines – the brittle and finer-grained iron ore product.

That is up from a 3.75 per cent concession rate the companies have enjoyed since the 1960s, partly in recognition of their contribution to building roads, ports, railways and townships in mining regions.

Iron ore fines were also previously not highly valued but have since become a key iron ore commodity.

The agreement, signed off by the WA cabinet on Monday, also involves the companies paying the government a combined one-off amount of $350 million, which will be earmarked for a new children’s hospital due to open in 2015, Mr Barnett said.

“This has been an exhausting, a very exacting, but a very good negotiation between the two largest mining companies in the world and the state of Western Australia.

“It is a good result and it is a fair result.

“It gives the companies what they have sought and gives a very substantial financial return to the people of Western Australia who are the owners of these Pilbara iron ore resources,” the premier said.

“Had we not done what has been done today, Western Australia would have been essentially selling its iron ore for decades to come at half price. That’s not acceptable.”

Mr Barnett said the agreements, reached after 12 months of often tough discussions, simply brought Rio Tinto and BHP into line with what other iron ore miners in WA were already paying.

He said the one-off payment of $350 million was partly in recognition of the WA government’s agreements that the companies could integrate their Pilbara operations, the “jewel in their corporate crown”.

That would allow them to share ports and railways and blend their iron ore, keeping them competitive in international markets, the premier said.

The agreement will bring in an additional $340 million to the WA government for the 2010-11 financial year, he said.

Mr Barnett said he expected the extra money the two companies paid to the WA government would be rebated to them under the federal government’s new resource super-profits tax (RSPT).

“However, I make it clear, the decision on royalties is independent of whatever the federal government might be proposing.

“This is not a higher rate of royalty, it is removing a concession the two companies had.”

Mr Barnett has been a vocal critic of the RSPT.

Aussies progress at Wimbledon

Hewitt, the 2002 men’s champion and 15th seed this year, overcame a shaky start to power to a 5-7 6-0 6-2 6-2 win over Argentine Maximo Gonzalez, while Luczak savoured a memorable 2-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 7-5 triumph over Spanish 30th seed Tommy Robredo.

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Alicia Molik and Jarmila Groth also safely progressed, but qualifiers Bernard Tomic and Carsten Ball bombed out on the opening day of the championships.

Like top seed and six-time champion Roger Federer – who recovered from the brink against Colombian Alejandro Falla – Hewitt was below his best but still proved classy enough to book a date on Wednesday with Kazakhstan’s Evgeny Korolev.

At 30, Luczak was making his long-awaited debut at the All England Club and seized the moment.

“I’m pumped. Thirty years in the making, I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” he said.

Luczak’s victory was even sweeter – and more deserving – considering the honourable Players’ Council representative spurned a guaranteed STG10,000 ($A16,800) cheque two years ago when he opted against taking his place in the main draw while less than fully fit.

“I had a hip issue at that time and I really couldn’t play. It would have only been to collect the money, so I’m happy I did the right thing,” Luczak said.

“I said if I want to play Wimby, I want to do it when I’m fully fit, so it makes this day even more special.”

Molik slammed down 14 aces to cast aside Slovakian Zuzana Kucova 6-2 7-5 in her first singles match back at Wimbledon since 2007.

“I’ve prepared so much and I feel so well,” Molik said.

“I’ve spent the last four weeks – seeing I lost early at the French – hitting on hardcourt, synthetic grass, prior to coming on to the grass in Birmingham, Eastbourne.

“So my preparation could not have been better, so I was just ready, busting to get out there and finally play an actual match.”

Groth, who reached the last 16 earlier this month at the French Open, continued her fine grand-slam form with a 6-4 6-3 win over Czech Renata Voracova.

Fellow Australians Samantha Stosur, Casey Dellacqua and Anastasia Rodionova all open their campaigns today.

Worker ‘warned BP’ about leak

A worker on the Deepwater Horizon rig says he alerted BP and Transocean, the rig’s owners, to a leak found in the control pod of the blowout preventer – a system of valves which failed to shut down the oil flow when the explosion happened.

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The sensational claim came as oil firms went to court seeking to lift a six-month freeze on deepwater drilling, as BP documents reveal 100,000 barrels of crude may be spewing into the Gulf of Mexico.

The British energy giant also says it has spent $US2 billion ($A2.27 billion) on cleaning up the spill and compensating residents and businesses who face ruin nine weeks into the nation’s worst ever environmental disaster.

New claims could damage firm

A worker on Deepwater Horizon revealed to the BBC he had alerted BP and Transocean to the potentially dangerous leak.

“We saw a leak on the pod, so by seeing the leak we informed the company men,” Tyrone Benton said.

“They have a control room where they could turn off that pod and turn on the other one, so that they don’t have to stop production… they just shut it down and worked off another pod.”

The news came as internal BP documents suggested in the worst case scenario about 100,000 barrels per day of crude could be spilling into the Gulf – way higher than US official estimates of 35,000 to 60,000 bpd.

BP says it is containing about 25,000 barrels a day, and has called in more ships and equipment to boost the effort.

But a key US congressman, Ed Markey, tore into the firm after releasing the document. “First they said it was only 1000 barrels, then they said it was 5000 barrels; now we’re up to 100,000 barrels,” Markey told NBC television.

BP rejected Markey’s charge. The estimate “has nothing (to do) with the amount of oil that’s actually escaping at the moment”, spokesman Robert Wine said.

BP has said the spill will not be permanently capped until they have completed two relief wells, with the first set to be finished in August.

Firms urge judge to ease restriction

US firms, whose crews and equipment have been idled since US President Barack Obama imposed a moratorium on deepwater drilling and exploration in the Gulf, have urged a judge to ease the restrictions.

The government stand “is effectively a moratorium on all drilling because it may take months if not years for the industry to come into compliance with the standards, some of which have not yet been determined,” the plaintiffs argued on Monday.

Delaware-based Hornbeck Offshore Services, which first lodged the case, said in court documents the moratorium was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion” and inconsistent with industry regulations.

In a deal hammered out with the White House last week, BP agreed to set up a $US20 billion ($A22.7 billion) compensation fund over the next four years to pay for the damage wrought by the spill.

It also set aside $US100 million ($A113.5 million) to compensate oil workers laid off as a result of the spill, triggered by an April 20 explosion on a BP-leased rig off Louisiana.

Pressure to pay claims

Kenneth Feinberg, named to run the fund, said Obama told him: “Get these claims paid. Get them paid quickly.”

“We want to get these claims out quicker and we want to get these claims out with more transparency so people have more certainty as to what they are going to receive,” Feinberg told the ABC network on Sunday.

“We want to do it in the next couple of weeks so that people who are down in the Gulf, who are in desperate financial straits as a result of this spill, are receiving financial compensation.”

But The Wall Street Journal reported BP’s additional sum for unemployed workers was a goodwill drop in the ocean compared with the estimated $US300 million ($A340.5 million) being lost every month as rigs are mothballed.

BP had successfully argued in the negotiations that the moratorium was a US administration policy decision, for which they were not responsible.

“You won’t find many lawyers who will say when the government imposes a moratorium it’s the company’s obligation to help the workers impacted,” a BP negotiator told the business daily.

BP fights not to pay to restore marshes

BP had also managed to fend off White House demands to pay to restore and improve the Gulf marshes and waterways – already blighted since the 2005 Hurricane Katrina – to leave them in a better condition than before the spill.

In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, the embattled British energy giant – which has seen its credit ratings downgraded and share prices plunge – said it had spent $US2 billion ($A2.27 billion) on the spill.

The costs included paying for containment, relief well drilling, grants to Gulf states, claims paid to those affected and costs incurred by the US government.

Extended welfare quarantining slammed

The decision to extend income management to all welfare recipients in the Northern Territory has evoked a heated, but mixed response from the wider community.

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Welfare quarantining was the cornerstone of the Howard government’s 2007 intervention into remote Aboriginal communities across NT.

The passing of draft laws in the Senate on Monday night, introduced to parliament by the Rudd government, will mean the scheme will no longer apply solely to Aboriginal welfare recipients.

The scheme, which requires welfare recipients to spend a certain percentage of their pay on basic human needs such as food, rent, bills and schooling, will be trialled in the NT and assessed at the end of 2011 before being rolled out nationally.

Many social groups, including the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), claim the large-scale roll-out will further alienate people on income support and do little to assist people to overcome social issues and gain employment.

From July, income management will apply to all disadvantaged groups in NT, including the long-term unemployed, young people on benefits, parents at risk of financial crisis or domestic abuse and individuals referred by child protection authorities.

People can apply for exemptions if they can prove they can manage their own affairs.

Clare Martin, former chief minister of the Northern Territory and now chief executive office of ACOSS, said the scheme was expensive and poorly targeted.

“The government is willing to gamble $410 million over the next five years to manage 20,000 people in the Northern Territory,” she said in a statement released on Tuesday.

“Per head, this is eight times the amount provided to an employment services provider to help someone find a job.

“It is disappointing that the major parties have approved such a radical and harmful change to our social security system with so little public consultation and debate.”

The Australian Greens were the only party to oppose the legislation.

Greens spokeswoman for community services Rachel Siewert said on-the-ground impacts on Aborigines showed that claims by the federal government that the scheme was about human dignity were hypocritical.

“There is no dignity in being subject to compulsory income management and having control of your day-to-day finances micromanaged by Centrelink,” Senator Siewert said in a statement.

ANTAR spokeswoman Janet Hunt said the government needed to revise the income quarantining guidelines and narrow the scope.

“Compared with other low income population groups in Australia, indigenous people are at highest risk of deprivation and hardship,” Dr Hunt said in a statement.

“Those in remote areas also face much higher costs of living.”

The scheme will not be mandatory for the short-term unemployed, students or pensioners.

Tributes paid to crash dead

Tributes have been paid to the 11 people killed in a plane crash in West Africa, which included the entire board of Perth-based mining company Sundance Resources.

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Sundance says the wreckage was found around midnight in the Avima Range in Congo by a helicopter mobilised by the company as part of the multinational air and ground search.

A team of French military personnel including medics were immediately sent to the remote crash site by helicopter.

Almost two hours later Sundance was advised there were no survivors.

Among the 11 people on board the company-chartered plane were mining magnate Ken Talbot, chairman Geoff Wedlock, chief executive Don Lewis, company secretary John Carr Gregg and non-executive directors John Jones and Craig Oliver.

Sundance says the firm’s key focus now is to bring the bodies home, but a 10 kilometre track will have to be built to reach the remote crash site, which could take weeks.

Sundance adviser George Jones has confirmed it was against company policy for the entire executive to travel on the same plane – but the landing strip at their destination in Congo couldn’t take the second aircraft, which was Mr Talbot’s personal plane.

Tributes

“It’s the news we all feared unfortunately,” Michael Roche, chief executive of the Queensland Resources Council on which Talbot once served, told the ABC.

“This is a great tragedy for a loving husband, father, as well as the public persona, the entrepreneur, the industry visionary.”

Truck-driver’s son Talbot first found wealth through a network of pubs before starting successful mining company Macarthur Coal in 1995. He left after being accused of corruption and was due to stand trial in August.

Sundance suspended trading in its shares, while former chairman Geoff Jones has resumed his duties and is vowing to rebuild the board. Chief financial officer Peter Canterbury is the acting chief executive.

“I’ve never lost so many friends in one go before,” Jones told Fairfax Radio. “I had to personally go to their houses… it’s devastated those families and I feel for all of them.”

Talbot, whose investment company Talbot Group owns 18 percent of Sundance, had an estimated fortune of 965 million dollars (840 million US), according to BRW business magazine which listed him as Australia’s 32nd richest person.

“At 59 years of age with his success and wealth, he needn’t have been on that chartered flight on Sat in the jungles of Cameroon, dodging gorillas and trying to look at an iron ore project,” said Talbot Group chairman Don Nissen.

“He could have been sitting on the beach at Surfers Paradise drinking rum and coke. But that wasn’t the way he was. He’s all about advancing his business.”

Asian demand, especially from China, has fuelled a boom in Australia’s resources sector, easing the country through the financial crisis and boosting the wealth of the country’s mining elite.

Mills, Jawai hopeful of more NBA glory

Australian point guard Patty Mills and his Boomers teammate Nathan Jawai are clinging to hope their NBA careers will continue on into next season.

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Mills played 13 games for the Portland Trailblazers in his debut season but the talented 21-year-old is yet to receive a new deal from the club and might be forced to try his luck on the open market.

Jawai, a 208cm, 127kg centre, is in a similar position despite featuring 39 times for the Minnesota Timberwolves this season after six appearances for Toronto the year before.

“At the moment I’m a free agent,” Mills said in Perth on Tuesday ahead of the Boomers’ clash with Argentina on Friday.

“Portland has a team option (to re-sign me) but that’s something I can’t control.

“It’s good I’m over here with the Boomers, get my mind distracted from that.

“The goal for me is to stay over in America … that’s where I want to be.

“That side of things will take care of itself if I keep my mind on the business back home for the Boomers.”

Mills hoped his explosive performance on April 14 against Golden State, when he scored 11 points in just 13 minutes of court time, would convince the Trailblazers he was worth another contract.

“That game against Golden State was probably my best one and the more opportunity I get the more comfortable I feel,” he said.

“Every time I did get out on the floor it was a chance for me to show I do belong, and I think I did that.

“The Portland organisation was great … it’s somewhere I felt comfortable.

“If I got the chance to go back I would love to.

“Most of the coaches took me under their wing and I think they believed in my potential.

“But a rookie doesn’t get the first hand I guess (in terms of court time).”

Despite averaging less than four minutes a match, Mills said his debut NBA season was a valuable learning curve.

“Getting to the playoffs and getting the opportunity to play in the playoffs was great,” said Mills, who averaged 2.5 points a match.

“I didn’t quite get the amount of time I would like but it’s something you have to go through to be a professional player.

“It was almost like a coaching perspective where you can sit on the sideline and really get a look.”

Jawai, who averaged 10.6 minutes and 3.2 points per game last season, said he would consider heading to Europe if he failed to earn a new NBA deal.

But the 23-year-old’s priority has shifted to recovery mode after a serious ankle injury forced him onto crutches and in a moon boot for more than six weeks.

Jawai returned to the training court with his Boomers teammates this week and hopes to play some game time in the upcoming three-game series against Argentina.

“(The aim is to) play a limited role, just come on the court for two, three minutes and do what I can do just so I can get back into game shape,” Jawai said.

Soldiers killed in Afghanistan named

Defence has named the three Commandos killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan as Private Tim Aplin, Private Ben Chuck and Private Scott Palmer.

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Defence said they were part of the Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) and were drawn from the Sydney-based 2nd Commando Regiment.

Families of the three soldiers were receiving support from the regiment and the Defence Community Organisation.

Defence said planning for the repatriation of the bodies had begun, although the date for the return to Australia has not yet been confirmed.

Their deaths took the Australian death toll in nine years in Afghanistan to 16.

Seven other commandos, suffering fractures, lacerations, crush injuries and a head injury from the incident, were now en route to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Centre in Germany.

There, they will receive advanced medical and surgical treatment before being considered for return to Australia.

“There has been no substantial change to the medical assessment of the casualties with four now assessed to be in a satisfactory condition, one listed as in a serious condition and two in a very serious condition,” Defence said in a statement.

Six of the seven soldiers underwent surgery on Monday.

Tributes

Private Aplin, 38, enlisted in the army reserves in 1992 then transferred to the regular army in 1995, reaching the rank of Sergeant.

He successfully completed the commando selection course in 2008 and was posted to Commando Battalion 4RAR, taking a reduction in rank.

During his army career, he served in East Timor, the Middle East and twice in Afghanistan.

“Private Aplin was an outstanding and dedicated commando who was highly respected. This was his second tour to Afghanistan and he was serving with the SOTG as a team demolitions specialist,” Defence said.

Private Chuck, 27, leaves behind his parents, a brother and sister, and his partner.

He was born in in Atherton, Queensland, and joined the army in 2004 through the Special Forces Direct Recruiting Scheme.

He was then posted to 4RAR and was on his third tour of Afghanistan.

“Private Chuck was an outstanding commando who was highly trained and excelled at all he attempted,” Defence said.

“Private Chuck was the patrol medic within his sniper team. He was suited to this role as his affectionate and caring nature drove his passion for helping his mates.”

His father Gordon Chuck told the Cairns Post newspaper, “He loved life and all that he could pack into it.”

Private Palmer, 27, leaves behind his parents and a brother.

He enlisted in the army in 2001 and joined 4RAR in 2006. His army service took him twice to East Timor and to Iraq. This was his third deployment to Afghanistan.

“His professionalism was of the highest order and he excelled at everything he did. Private Palmer loved his job and working alongside his mates,” Defence said.

Government remains committed

Mr Rudd said these were hard days, but the government remained committed to completing this mission.

Defence Minister John Faulkner said it was absolutely critical that Australia play its part in stabilising Afghanistan.

“Why? Because we are helping to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a training ground and safe haven and operating base for international terrorists,” he told Fairfax Radio.

“And we know that terrorists trained in Afghanistan have had a very direct impact on Australians and Australia.”

Taliban capture

Meanwhile, NATO and Afghan forces have captured a senior Taliban figure in an overnight raid, the international force said on Tuesday in a statement.

The man had recently been appointed the Taliban’s finance chief in northern Baghlan province, NATO said.

He was captured in southern Helmand province along with two other suspected insurgents after a tip-off that he was staying in a compound in Nah-e Saraj district.

Timeline: ADF deaths in Afghanistan

Forty-one Australians serving with the Australian Defence Force have been killed in Afghanistan since troops were sent there in 2001.

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2014

July 2 – Australian Special Forces soldier Lance Corporal Todd Chidgey was killed in a ‘non-combat related incident’. 

2013

June 22 – Corporal Cameron Stewart Baird MG, 32, from the Special Operations Task Group was killed in small arms fire engagement in Afghanistan.

2012

October 21 – Corporal Scott James Smith, 24, with the Special Operations Task Group was killed in an IED explosion.

August 30 – Private Nathanael Galagher, 23 and Lance Corporal Mervyn McDonald 30, were killed when a ISAF helicopter they were travelling in crashed while attempting to land in Helmand province.

August 29 – Sapper James Martin, 21, Lance Corporal Stjepan Milosevic, 40 and Private Robert Poate, 23, were killed in southern Uruzgan by a man wearing an Afghan army uniform.

July 2 – Sergeant Blaine Flower Diddams, a 40-year-old soldier was killed during an engagement with insurgents while on a partnered mission with Afghan security forces targeting an insurgent commander. He was a member of the Perth-based Special Air Service Regiment.

2011

October 29 – Corporal Ashley Birt, 22, Lance Corporal Luke Gavin, 27 and Captain Bryce Duffy, 26, were killed in an incident reportedly sparked by an Afghan army sergeant turning a machine-gun on Australian soldiers tasked with training him, during a weekly parade inside a forward operating base at Shah Wali Kot, in Kandahar Province.

August 22 – Private Matthew Lambert, 26 was a member of the Mentoring Task Force. He was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated as he was on a night patrol near outpost Patrol Base Anaconda in the Khaz Oruzgan region, about 85km northeast of the main base at Tarin Kowt.

July 4 – Sydney-based 2nd Commando Sergeant Todd Langley, 35, died from a gunshot wound to the head after an incident in southern Afghanistan.

June 6 – Australian soldier Sapper Rowan Jaie Robinson, 23, was shot dead by insurgents in the northern Helmand province.

May 30 – Twenty-five year-old Lance Corporal Andrew Gordon Jones was shot by an Afghan soldier who fled the scene, while another, Lieutenant Marcus Sean Case, 27, died when the Chinook helicopter he was travelling in crashed.

May 23 – Sergeant Brett Wood, 32,was killed conducting clearance operations in southern Afghanistan. This brings the current Australian death toll from the conflict to 24.

February 19 – Sapper Jamie Larcombe, 21, was killed during un-partnered patrol in Oruzgan province, where insurgents launched a coordinated attack with machine gun and small arms fire.

February 2 – Corporal Richard Edward Atkinson, 22, was killed by a roadside bomb while conducting a foot patrol with the Afghan National Army. He was engaged to be married.

2010

August 24 – Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney, 28, was killed in a firefight. The soldier from the 6th Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment was patrolling in the Green Zone in the Oruzgan province, recently handed over by the Dutch, alongside Afghan troops.

August 20 – Private Grant Kirby, 35, and Private Tomas Dale, 21, from the sixth Battalion Royal Australian Regiment, were both killed by an IED (improvised explosive device) which went off when the pair were overseeing an Afghan army patrol in the Baluchi Valley.

August 13 – Trooper Jason Thomas Brown, 29, from Perth’s Special Air Service Regiment, died after being shot during an engagement with insurgents.

July 9 – Private Nathan Bewes, 6th Battalion, of The Royal Australian Regiment is killed by an IED.

June 21 – A helicopter crash not related to enemy fire kills three Australian Army Special Forces soldiers from the 2nd Commando Regiment (formerly known as 4RAR Commando Battalion) – Private Timothy Aplin, Private Scott Palmer, and Private Benjamin Chuck.

June 7 – A Taliban bomb kills Brisbane-based 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment’s Sapper Jacob Moerland, 21, and Sapper Darren Smith, 25, as well as their bomb-sniffing dog.

2009

July 18 – An improvised explosive device claims the life of Private Benjamin Ranaudo, 22, from the 1st battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR) north of Tarin Kowt.

March 19 – Explosive ordnance disposal specialist Sergeant Brett Till, 31, dies during an attempt to defuse a roadside bomb in Oruzgan Province. He is from the Holsworthy-based Incident Response Regiment.

March 16 – A firefight with the Taliban north of Tarin Kowt leaves Corporal Mathew Hopkins, 21, dead. He was a member of Australia’s mentoring and reconstruction taskforce that trains Afghan troops.

January 4 – Private Gregory Michael Sher, 30, a South African-born reservist from Sydney’s 1st Commando Regiment, is killed in a rocket attack in the Oruzgan Province.

2008

[December 17 – Rifleman Stuart Nash, 21, was killed in combat while serving with the British Army in Helmand Province.]

November 27 – An IED blast in Oruzgan kills Lieutenant Michael Fussell, 25, from 4RAR Commando Battalion.

July 8 – The Perth-based Special Air Service Regiment lost its New Zealand-born signaller Sean McCarthy, 25 in an IED blast.

April 27 – A battle with the Taliban in Oruzgan Province kills Lance Corporal Jason Marks, 27, from 4RAR Commando battalion.

2007

November 23 – Taliban fighters kill 4RAR Commando Battalion’s Private Luke Worsley, 26, in Oruzgan Province.

October 25 – SASR Sergeant Matthew Locke dies in a firefight with insurgents in Oruzgan Province.

October 8 – An IED blast in Oruzgan Province claims the life of Trooper David Pearce, 41, from 2/14 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment (Queensland Mounted Infantry).

2002

February 16 – A patrol vehicle strikes an anti-tank mine, later killing Sergeant Andrew Russell, SASR.

Congo train disaster kills 60

A rail disaster in Congo-Brazzaville killed at least 60 people and injured hundreds on Tuesday, as a senior official warned that many more victims may still be pulled from the wrecked carriages.

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Survivor Lucien Koko, speaking from hospital, said the train veered off the tracks after hurtling into a bend at full speed in the early hours of Tuesday, as it travelled between Brazzaville and the southern city of Pointe-Noire.

“At a bend that the driver went into at full speed, all six carriages where the passengers were derailed. We were thrown by the impact,” he told AFP.

“Many people remain trapped. I can talk because I have a wound on my forearm. Friends who were with me are gravely wounded,” added the 37-year-old.

Sixty bodies have been taken to the morgue in Pointe Noire, according to a member of a crisis cell dealing with the accident. A further 280 people were injured including 80 seriously, said a city official.

But Raoul Essou, deputy head of the Chemin de fer Congo-ocean (CFCO) rail firm, warned the final death toll was expected to rise.

“The toll we are currently giving is temporary,” he told AFP by telephone from the crash scene, about 60km from Pointe Noire, where rescuers were working to clear carriages from the tracks.

“The final toll will be very heavy,” he warned. “Eight of the train’s 10 carriages were thrown. The tracks are blocked over 100 metres,” he added.

Stations fill with relatives

Relatives of the dead and injured filled railway stations at Pointe Noire and Dolisie anxious for news of their loved ones, witnesses in the cities said.

High-ranking government and military officials travelled to the area Tuesday, as CFCO managing director Joseph Sauveur El Bez said that everything possible was being done to help the victims.

Costaud Mackosso, head of protocol at the transport ministry said Transport Minister Isidore Mvouba and top military officials would visit the crash scene before issuing a public statement.

The 510-kilometre CFCO line is the main link between the capital and Pointe Noire on the Atlantic.

Mainly following the Congo River, it was constructed between 1921 and 1934 during French colonial rule and thousands of Africans are said to have died building it.

In September 1991, a collision on the same line left 100 dead and 300 injured in the country’s worst ever rail disaster.

Tuesday’s crash is Congo-Brazzaville’s second major transport accident in the space of a few days after 11 people, including the Australian mining tycoon Ken Talbot, died in a plane crash in Congo’s thick jungle on Saturday.

Authorities found the plane’s wreckage on Monday near Yangadou, a small mining town where the flight had been due to land.

Six Australians, two Britons, two French and a US national were on the twin turboprop plane chartered by the Perth-based Sundance Resources company headed by Talbot.