News in 5: Man killed by lightning; Seaplane crash heroes; Chocolate 'going extinct'.

1. 35-year-old man struck and killed by lightning while hiking with his family on New Year’s Day.

Antony Van Der Meer lightning
Antony Van Der Meer and his wife, Jessica. Image via Facebook.

A 35-year-old man who was hiking with his family has died after being struck by lightning in central Australia on New Year's Day.

Adelaide man Antony Van Der Meer was hiking the Rim Walk at Kings Canyon, about 300km south-west of Alice Springs, with four others when he was struck late on Monday afternoon, NT Police superintendent Pauline Vicary said, according to AAP.

"The party was about one kilometre from the car park when the bolt hit them," Supt Vicary said.

Antony sustained life-threatening injuries and died at the scene, despite attempts to revive him.

The other hikers were not injured, but a spokesman for Northern Territory Police told 9 News they had suffered "extreme shock" after witnessing the sudden loss of Antony.

The area was subjected to heavy rains and winds on Monday, and it's believed Antony was carrying a metal tripod as he and his family walked to find a better vantage point to capture the storm on camera.

Antony's wife, Jessica, shared a tribute to the "love of her life" on Facebook, 7 News reports.

"Antony, you were my soul mate and the love of my life. This has been such a shock and tragedy," she wrote.

The family is now travelling home to Adelaide in order to make preparations for Antony's funeral.

2. The fishing mates who risked their lives attempting to save six people trapped in a sinking seaplane.

Will McGovern seaplane rescue
Will McGovern watched on as his friends tried to save the seaplane's passengers. Image via ABC News.

A group of friends has told of how they tried desperately to rescue six people trapped in a sinking seaplane after it crashed into the Hawkesbury River nose-first on New Year’s Eve.

A family of five - 58-year-old UK businessman Richard Cousins, his sons Edward and William Cousins, aged 23 and 25, his fiancée Emma Bowden, 48, and her daughter, Heather Bowden-Page, 11 - who had already been touched by tragedy, were all killed in the accident.

The seaplane's experienced pilot, 44-year-old Gareth Morgan also died.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, 32-year-old fisherman Todd Sellars said he and two other friends dived repeatedly into the river's waters in an attempt to free the trapped passengers.

But as the plane began to sink rapidly and the water became thick with aviation fuel, the heroes were forced to give up their efforts.

"I couldn't get the doors open because I kept running out of air," father-of-three Todd Sellars told The Daily Telegraph.

"It was awful because we knew people were in there and we couldn't get them out.

"The police said we did all we could because they had probably suffered catastrophic injuries and been killed in the crash."

Todd added that he noticed no one was knocking on the windows for help as the plane sank 13 metres to the riverbed.

Todd and his friends, Lachlan Hewitt, Kurt Bratby and Will McGovern were enjoying drinks on a houseboat they had hired to ring in the new year when they heard the ill-fated plane "coming in low".

"As the plane fell out of the sky it made a huge noise, a boom... It took us less than 60 seconds to get there," Todd said.


"The plane was upside down and the pontoons were filling with water."

The friends say they did what anyone else would in a similar situation, and did not want to be classified as heroes.

"If I was in that plane, I would hope someone would try to get me out," Todd said.

"The families of these poor people they need to know people were there risking their lives trying to help their family members," Will McGovern added to ABC News.

"There was someone there trying to do something."

According to AAP, investigators are now finalising plans to retrieve the wreckage of the seaplane, after divers worked until nightfall the day of the crash to recover the bodies.

3. We don't want to alarm you, but chocolate is making its way towards extinction.

woman eating chocolate
Image via Getty.

Here's a New Year's resolution for you: head to the shops, stock up on chocolate and fill every available storage space in your home with the sweet stuff, because it's about to go extinct.

Yep, according to a Business Insider report, chocolate - or rather, the cacao tree, whose seeds are used to used to make cocoa - are on track to disappear from the earth as early as 2050.

Currently, the plant can only grow within a narrow strip of rainforest land, in very specific conditions. Over half of the world's chocolate comes from just two countries in West Africa - Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana.

But by 2050, rising temperatures will have made those regions unsuitable for cacao plants to survive and planting them higher is not an option as those areas are reserved for wildlife preservation.


Scientists from the University of California are now using gene-editing technology to ensure the plant can survive - and thrive - in the drier, warmer climates of the future.

One of the world's largest chocolate and confectionary manufacturers, Mars, has pledged more than $1 billion to reduce it's carbon footprint and ensure the sustainability of its supply chain for years to come.

"We're trying to go all in here. There are obviously commitments the world is leaning into but, frankly, we don't think we're getting there fast enough collectively," Barry Parkin, Mars' chief sustainability officer, told Business Insider.

4. Of course, Donald Trump is taking credit for the aviation industry's safest year on record.

donald trump yelling singing scream
Image via Getty.

President Donald Trump appears to be taking credit for zero commercial airline fatalities in 2017.

Trump tweeted on Tuesday that since taking office: "I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation. Good news - it was just reported that there were Zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record!"

People were quick to criticise the President for attempting to take credit for the statistics, with some saying the claim was "insane".

"Do you literally think any good news you see on TV must have been because of you?" one person tweeted.

Another wrote, "WTF does this have to do with you?"

While it is fact that there were no commercial airline fatalities in the world in 2017, that's due to far more than just US influence.


Airline deaths have been dropping in the US and around the world for more than a decade.

The last commercial airline fatalities in the US happened in July 2013. Three passengers were killed when Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crashed while landing at San Francisco International Airport.

Dutch aviation consulting firm To70 and the Aviation Safety Network reported on Monday there were no commercial passenger jet fatalities in 2017.

"2017 was the safest year for aviation ever," Adrian Young of To70 told Reuters.

The Aviation Safety Network said 2017 was "the safest year ever, both by the number of fatal accidents as well as in terms of fatalities."

5. Sydney Sixers' captain Ellyse Perry steers her team to a convincing win over the Melbourne Renegades.

Ellyse Perry Sydney Sixers
Ellyse Perry of the Sydney Sixers. Image via Getty.

An outstanding display of legspin bowling from Dane van Niekerk to go with Ellyse Perry's solo hand with the bat have propelled the Sydney Sixers to a convincing 36-run WBBL win over the Melbourne Renegades.

South Africa captain van Niekerk, the leading WBBL wicket-taker this summer, snared 4-13, bamboozling the Renegades who were skittled for just 92 in response the Sixers' 7-128 in the Melbourne suburb of Camberwell, AAP reports.

Van Niekerk had terrific support from countrywoman Marizanne Kapp (2-13) and accurate seamer Sarah Aley (2-12) who combined to apply the breaks to the Renegades' chase.

Coming in with the hosts reeling at 2-8 after the first eight balls, No.3 Jess Duffin fought hard for her 35 but she was denied strike for prolonged periods while watching the carnage unfold at the other end on a slowish deck.


Player-of-the-match Perry was the only batter to truly master the conditions, single-handedly holding the Sixers' innings together with a fine 64.

The skipper's 56-ball knock, which included three sixes, was the clear standout and steered the visitors to a competitive total.

Unlike their rusty batting, the Renegades' fielding was sharp and their bowling was impressive.

The best with the ball was Kiwi Hayley Jensen who snared a season-best 2-13 including the big scalp of Perry, who holed out to Molly Strano at long off in the penultimate over.

Live stream WBBL free here.

6. Australian researchers have found a simple way to reduce the amount of time a colicky baby cries.

crying baby
Image via Getty.

Giving a probiotic to a breastfed baby with colic can significantly reduce the time they cry, research has found.

According to AAP, the Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) study, published in journal Pediatrics, provides some hope to the one in five parents suffering from the impact of a baby's unexplained, excessive crying.

"In this study we had 345 babies and we found that the probiotic group was twice as likely as the placebo group to experience a 50 per cent reduction in crying over three weeks," said lead author Dr Valerie Sung.

As expected, both groups of babies reduced crying over the three weeks but the reduction in crying time was 13 to 15 minutes greater per day for the probiotic group, said Dr Sung.

All babies cry. But when the baby cries inconsolably for hours on end, they may have what the medical profession calls colic.

In the absence of effective treatments, researchers over the past decade have turned to one particular strain of probiotic, Lactobacillus reduteri (L reuteri). Studies have shown "promise" but the results have been conflicting, says Dr Sung

To confirm if the probiotic works, the MCRI collaborated with 11 other institutions around the world to assess its effectiveness.

Researchers did this by combining raw data from four major double-blind placebo controlled L reuteri trials, from Italy, Poland, Canada and Australia.

The Australian trial showed L reuteri to be ineffective, however when combined with the other three trials, it was clear that L reuteri worked for exclusively breastfed babies.

One hypothesis is that the probiotics change the gut microbiota or flora and in doing so reduce inflammation and therefore reduce crying.

While not a "magic cure" this probiotic could be considered for short-term use after all medical causes for the crying have been excluded, says Dr Sung.

7. Parents are calling for YouTube to ban a popular vlogger after he shared a video featuring the body of a suicide victim.

Logan Paul
A still from YouTube star Logan Paul's video. Image via YouTube.

US YouTube star Logan Paul is facing calls from angry parents and celebrities to be banned from the platform after posting a video featuring the body of a suicide victim.

The clip uploaded by Paul, which had millions of views on YouTube before it was taken down, showed the vlogger and his friends discovering a dead body in Japan's Aokigahara Forest - which is known to be a frequent site of suicides.

Writing on Twitter, Paul, who has 15 million YouTube subscribers and is very popular with child viewers who like his stunts involving bizarre scenarios, said his intention was to "raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention".

"This is a first for me. I've never faced criticism like this before, because I've never made a mistake like this before," he wrote.

"I'm surrounded by good people and believe I make good decisions, but I'm still a human being. I can be wrong."

The 22-year-old from Ohio, who is the older brother of former Disney star Jake Paul, added he "didn't do it for views" saying: "I did it because I thought I could make a positive ripple on the internet, not cause a monsoon of negativity. That's never the intention."

Online commenters described the video as "sickening", with many saying they would no longer allow their children to watch Paul's videos.

Some called for Paul to be removed from the platform.

A number of celebrities responded on Twitter, with Game of Thrones actress Sophie Turner writing: "@LoganPaul You're an idiot. You're not raising awareness. You're mocking. I can't believe how self-praising your 'apology' is. You don't deserve the success (views) you have. I pray to God you never have to experience anything like that man did."

If you or someone you know needs help you can call Lifeline on 131 114 or Beyondblue 1300 224 636.