News: Large earthquake hits Christchurch

Another earthquake for Christchurch.

Large earthquake hits Christchurch

The quake struck at 1.58pm today, local time, and was followed by a second sharp jolt a few minutes later. Several other aftershocks have also been recorded.

The Christchurch Airport has been evacuated and the Fire Service deployed. Phone lines are down.

A police spokeswoman did not know whether there had been any reports of damage or injuries but said the phones were very busy.

A 4.9-magnitude quake at 10.30am was the seventeenth most powerful since the damaging 7.1 quake on September 4. The earthquake that caused the most damage hit on February 22, killing 182 people.

Myer brings forward ‘Boxing Day’ sale to Xmas Eve

This year retail giant Myer will launch its annual post-Christmas shopping bonanza two days early, on Christmas Eve, for selected online customers.

An email to the store’s Myer one loyalty card customers says selected items will be available for purchase on the company’s website from 6pm tomorrow. Other customers will be able to access the stocktake sale online from 6am on Christmas day.

Professor Steve Worthington, from Monash University’s faculty of business and economics, said the early online sales were an attempt to get shoppers to part with their cash as quickly as possible in troubled economic times. “It’s an attempt to keep bringing things forward, to try to get people to go and spend as quickly as possible,” he said.

How have your spending habits changed recently – are you shopping online more?

Girl swept away in tsunami shows up 7 years later

An eight-year-old girl who was swept away in the Boxing Day tsunami has been found alive – almost seven years to the day the giant wave hit her Indonesian village.

The 15-year-old, known as Wati, showed up in the nearby city of Meulaboh yesterday and told staff at the Simpang Pelor cafe that she was trying to get home.

Wati could remember only one relative’s name, her grandfather Ibrahim. She was taken to his house, where she was quickly identified as his missing granddaughter. He sent for the girl’s mother Yusniar and father Yusuf, who recognised their daughter from a small scar above her eyebrow that she got when she was six years old.


A Christmas miracle: Twins born with two heads and one body

Conjoined twins Emanoel and Jesus.

A Brazilian woman has given birth to conjoined twins with one body and two perfectly formed heads.

The mother of the twins, Maria de Nazare, 23, named them Emanoel and Jesus because they are a Christmas miracle. Each boy has his own brain and spinal cord, but they share all other organs, including the heart, lungs and liver.

Joseph Brazil, the obstetrician responsible for the delivery, said the twins have “an amazing appetite.”

The newborns weigh 4.6-kilograms and are healthy, although doctors say it is too early to tell how they will develop.

Greens gambling spokesman Richard di Natale issued a discussion paper yesterday that suggested the anti-addiction drug naltrexone be used to help problem gamblers resist the urge to punt on poker machines.

The use of naltrexone would complement the Greens’ main anti-pokies policy, which involves the introduction of a $1 bet limit per spin. Naltrexone is most commonly used to help people with alcohol and drug dependence problems.

The peak body for doctors in Australia said using naltrexone and other medications to curb pokies addiction had some merit but studies showed there were more effective methods for treatment.

Elderly woman dies trying to save duckling

And now for a more heartbreaking news item – an 80-year-old woman who was hit by a car in northern NSW while trying to save a duckling from being run over has died. Police say witnesses reported the elderly woman ran on to the road in East Ballina to help the lone duckling, which was struggling to get up a gutter.

Bookshops cash in during the Christmas rush

While most of the retail sector is in a desperate slump this Christmas, bookshops across the country are experiencing an amazing revival and many are on track to record one of their best years in recent memory.

The head of the Australian Booksellers Association, Joel Becker, said this Christmas was proving to be a particularly strong one for independent bookshops. Early signs showed that sales would be well up on last year. Mr Becker said the closure of Borders had reminded book lovers of the importance of supporting bookshops and many had embraced the e-book revolution rather than resisted it.

Will you be reading e-books or physical books over the holidays?

Plus, here are the must-see pictures from this week..

00:00 / ???