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ABC Asia Pacific News -

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Fears grow as the deadly

swipe flu spreads. Calls for

surrender. Sri Lanka rejects a

ceasefire offer. A peace deal

threatened as Pakistan launches

a new offensive against the

Taliban. And a mass wedding in Sichuan for earthquake survivors.

O'Connor with ABC News for Good morning. Beverley

Australia Network. Health

authorities around the world

are on alert to stop the spread

of a deadly flu strain that's

already killed 80 people in

Mexico and has spread to the

United States. Three groups of

New Zealand students who

recently returned from Mexico

are showing symptoms of the strain. Asian countries with

their recent experience of

battling bird flu in humans

have been quick to act,

screening passengers at

airports and border crossings

for symptoms. In the US, a public health emergency has

been declared, but the World

Health Organisation says the

world is ready to withstand any

potential pandemic. The world's

medical organisations have

banded together to fight what

many fear could turn into a flu pandemic. We're responding and we're responding

aggressively. We've got half a

billion pounds worth of anti-viral drugs and the good

news from Mexico is that these

drugs such as Tamiflu actually

worked on those who got them

early enough. Even the young

and healthy aren't immune. It's

estimated 10 students in New

Zealand who have recently

returned from Mexico are

showing flu-like symptoms. I'm

informed that none of the

affected patients are seriously

ill, and most, in fact, seem to

be on the road to recovery. In

schoolchildren are under close the United States, too,

watch. We understand that in

New York City, there's a

cluster of disease in the

school, and New York City has

announced that they're not

having those children come back

to school on Monday. At

apparent epicentre of the

outbreak, the usual activities

of a city of 20 million have

been suspended. All major

gatherings, soccer match, concerts and even church

services in the predominantly

Christian country, have been

called off. TRANSLATION: We

are facing an epidemic of

influenza, not due to the

number of cases but because it

is a new virus, something

unknown. It can be cured. It

can be treated and we have the

medication to cure it in large

supplies. And in South East

Asia, with the memory of bird

flu outbreaks still fresh,

there's particularly close

scrutiny of airports, train and

bus stations, and border

crossings. We have escalated

our level of alert to serious,

rather than alert. And

secondly, we shall also as soon

as possible in the next couple

of days put the human swine flu

into the list of notifiable

disease. There's no vaccine for this strain of the flu,

which appears to be a

combination of bird, swine and

human influenza. TRANSLATION:

The virus may develop

resistance against Tamiflu

after mutation, since that has

already happened to the H 1 N 1 strain. However, patients

appear to be responding well to

existing medication, if they're treated early.

The US, homeland security

officials have release ed some

of the stockpile of the

country's drugs. At this stage,

the US borders remain open.

They are not stopping anybody

coming from another country

which has this flu - for

example, Mexico. They're not

stopping these people from

coming into the country. They

are saying they're doing some

checks like looking at both

ends if you like, you know,

when people get on a plane to

come to the United States, if

they're exhibiting symptoms.

Flu, they may be discourageed

from actually boarding that

flight. If they arrive here in the United States and they

appear sick, they may be asked,

you know, what are your

symptoms, have you been ill,

they may be isolated, they may

be referred to medical treatment, but they are not

going to be barred from

entering the United States. As

for within the United States

itself, the health authorities

are saying, look, people need

to jump on this quickly. If

you're feeling sick, if you've

got headaches and a fever and a

sore throat, you need to seek medical attention, because

they're finding that there are

anti-viral medications

available that are able to

treat this flu. They're also

telling people be cautious,

wash your hands, take all the

spread of such a normal precautions to stop the

disease. Talking of anti-viral

drugs - the authorities are

deciding to release some

stockpiles of those

drugs? There is a federal

stockpile here in the United

States, 50 million doses of

anti-viral medications. The

United States homeland security

secretary Janet Napolitano is

saying they're releasing about

a quarter of that, being sent

to various State, mostly to the

States which have so far

confirmed cases. They're the

States of Texas, California,

Kansas, Ohio and of course

there are a group of school

students in New York City as

well. So about a quarter of

that federal stockpile is

actually going to be dispersed

so that people can receive this

medication if they're

exhibiting those flu-like symptoms. Coincidentally,

President Barack Obama was

visiting Mexico just a week or

so ago. How is his health

faring? Well, he was there

about 10 days ago. The White

House is saying that there is

no reason to be alarmed about

the President's health. They

say that usually these symptoms present themselves within 24 to

48 hours. He has been back in

the country for about 10 days

now. He has out on the golf

course this morning here. He

looked fit as a fiddle. The

White House says there's no

need to be concerned about

President Obama. Kim Landers

there. Sri Lanka has rejected

an offer of a unilateral

ceasefire from the Tamil Tiger

rebels, called to allow

thousands of civilians still

caught up in the conflict zone

to leave. The government says

the proposed ceasefire is a

joke and is demanding that the

rebels give up their battle for

a separate homeland and

surrender. The rebels say the

ceasefire will allow 50,000 civilians trapped in the

conflict zone to leave. The

ceasefire or the cessation of

hostilities or a cessation of

military attacks has been the

demand of the international

community, several countries

the world over, by the you

nation, but somehow the Sri

Lankan government. The

government has ridiculed the

offer saying it's time the

rebels ended their crusade for

an independent homeland. They

can't face our military. This

is a joke. That's a joke. They

have to surrender of that's

all. Tens of thousands of

people have managed to escape

rebel-held areas since the mass

exodus began seven days ago.

Many hospitals and refugee

camps are overcrowding. The UN

says that since early February,

at least 6,500 civilians have

died and thousands more have

been injured as the rebels have

been beaten back into a tiny

strip of the north east coast.

The UN's top humanitarian

official, John Holmes, arrived

in Sri Lanka on Saturday,

hoping to broker access to the

war zone and refugee camps for

aid workers. They've been

barred from the area since last

year's upsurge in fighting. Colombo denies it's been

blacking food aid to civilians

and also rejects rebel claims

which can't be independently

verified that government planes bombed areas civilians are

known to be sheltering over the

weekend. Earlier this month,

there was a brief truce, but

the government says there will

be no more breaks in the

fighting, saying the rebels may

use the opportunity to rearm.

Pakistan has launched a new

offensive against Taliban every

Sur gents in the north west of the country. Several militants

have already been killed in

heavy exchanges of fire, but

Islamabad insists the latest

military action does not threaten a peace deal signed

with the Taliban. A triggered

alarm last week by pushing

closer to Islamabad but the

Taliban appears to have pulled

back. In its wake the Pakistan

military has moved in. The

community wants to cooperate

with the Taliban, who are left

in Boonah. We're happy about

this and not in favour of the

army being based here, because that will only damage peace and

stability. The Taliban says

the military advance is the

violation of a peace deal

reluctant ly signed by the

government allowing sharia law

in the Swat Valley. The

pressure is being applied by

the US to stop l Taliban's

influence from spreading.

Forcing the Pakistan military

to defend itself from

accusations of weakness. It is

a professional military, and

the army will be able to

deliver, but so far, we are

quite confident the army is

quite confident that it can

tackle this threat with the

support of the people. But that

support is waning. Whenever the

police or the paramilitary

forces bombard the place,

innocent people are killed. The

bad people have never been

killed. The army has called on

Taliban insurgents to lay down

their arms, in the hope that

rising tensions can be eased.

You're watching ABC News for

Australia Network. Coming up -

the Prime Minister the target of another shoe-throwing

incident in India. And - Jenson

Button continues his winning

ways, taking out the Bahrain

Grand Prix, his third win this year.

The Iraqi Prime Minister has

accused the United States of

violating a bilateral security

pact after a US raid near

Baghdad. A policeman and a

woman were killed in the

overnight raid on a house the

US believed was housing Shi'ite

militiamen. Iraq has denounced

the raid as a crime with one official saying all those targeted were innocent, but the

US has disputed the details of

the attack and says the

operation was approved by the

Iraqi Government. The

controversial raid comes just

months before US combat troops

are due to withdraw entirely

from Iraqi cities. Evidence is

building that Australia is set

to send more combat trainers to

Afghanistan. Defence Minister

Joel Fitzgibbon has indicated

that the government is likely

to respond to calls for a

bigger Australian effort by

focusing on training. He was on

a visit to Afghanistan and he

risked a trip outside the

heavily fortified Australian

base in the town of Tarin Kowt.

From the base, the ABC's national security correspondent

Matt Brown. It's the first time

a minister has ventured beyond

the wire. Joel Fitzgibbon left

the fortified base at Tarin

Kowt and headed briefly into

town.

Not everyone was keen to see

this stranger, sudden ly appear

on the scene. We just want to

say hello. But amongst this

resilient and proud people,

there were signs of welcome.

The minister toured a hospital, rebuilt by the

Australians. When you have 600

people going to the local

hospital on any given day,

that's a pretty clear message

to the local Afghan community

that the model we are offering

is better than the model they've experienced in the

past. As the years since the

initial invasion have dragged

on, local support for the

foreigners has faded. But all

is not lost. There's a bit of

gun fire in the distance but

it's not uncommon in these

parts and despite overwhelming

anger that civilians keep being

hurt in coalition military

operation, polling shows many

Afghans are still largely

receptive to the foreign force.

In many ways, this is a war

that still can be won. Even

those who share the same ethnic

background as most of the

Taliban are not on their

side. I don't like the Taliban

because they are - in killing

some people, they are damage

Afghanistan. In someone damage

their country, anyone don't

like them. At a remote patrol

base high in the mountains the

minister met Australian

soldiers who train and fight

alongside the Afghan army.

Given the audience, Joel

Fitzgibbon gave his strongest

signal yet that more combat

trainers are on the

way. There's a bit of

international pressure for us to

to do a bit more as the US and

others stump up a little bit

more and obviously our minds

are very much focussed on the

work you're doing, because you

are in a sense the end game.

The minister says a competent

Afghan army is the key to

Australia's withdrawal.

Authorities in Afghanistan

have destroyed 6 tonnes of

drugs in what they claim is a

major success against the illegal drug industry. The

drugs were taken to a

mountainside on the outskirts

of Kabul, where a crowd of VIPs

and Afghan officials were

waiting. (Explosion) The drugs

confiscated over the last three

to four months were incinerated

in a raging fire. The American

journalist Roxane Saberi who has been convicted

has been convicted in Iran of

spying for US intelligence

services has gone on a hunger

strike and is now in the fifth

day of her protest. Ms Saberi's

parents, who have travelled

from their North Dakota home to

Tehran, say their 31-year-old

daughter is already in frail

health. The freelance

journalist, who holds dual

American and Iranian citizenship, was sentenced to

eight years in prison after a

trial behind closed doors

earlier this month. She has appealed against the

sentence. This time, she seems

to be determined to continue

her hunger strike until there

is a final solution for this

ordeal. Ms Saberi's case

threatens to undermine attempts

by US President Barack Obama to

improve relations with Iran. The

The ANC has officially won the

South African general election,

but not by as much as it had

hoped for. Party leader and the

country's next President Jacob

Zuma has pledged stability and

a government for all South

Africans. But as our

correspondent Andrew Geoghegan

reports, there are challenges

times ahead. The for days now

the ANC and party leader Jacob

Zuma have been celebrating

victory, well before the

official election results.

There was never any question if

the INC would win, only by how

much. In the end, it gained

almost 66% of the vote and it's

been called a landslide. But

the victory celebrations mask

the reality - it was the worst

ANC performance since the end

of apartheid. The elections

were free and fair and we

accept the results. The party

also failed to reach its goal

of a two thirds majority in Parliament, which would've

given it the power to change

the constitution. The ANC has

repeatedly denied it wants to

do that but the markets were

nervous about the prospect and

the possibility of a swing to

the left. South Africans have

placed their trust in the ANC

for at least another five

years. The party must now come

up with new ways of delivering

on its promise of a better life

for all. The way is now clear

for Jacob Zuma, who has emerged

from sex and corruption

scandals to become South

Africa's next President. We are

very greatful and are humbled

by the decisive mandate we have

received from the millions of

South Africans. He's promised

a program of action to cut

unemployment, poverty and

crime. He must do what he has

promised, because you cannot

vote for nothing. Let's hope

major changes are gonna take

place. For the ordinary man in the street.

With South Africa on the

brink of recession, the

champagne may not be flowing

for long.

The Indian ruling Congress

Party and main opposition BJP

have had a rare moment of

agreement, issuing a joint

condemnation of a shoe-throwing

incident involving the Prime Minister. Manmohan Singh has

addressing an election rally in

Gujarat State when a man later

identified as a university

student tried to throw a shoe

before being overpowered by security guards. The chief

spokesman for India's Congress

Party says it is inappropriate

and should be condemned. His

counterpart from the main

opposition Hindu Nationalist

Party the BJP called it an

insult to democracy. Media

reports out of India say there

has been a surge in shoe

hurling during India's general

elections which continue until

May 13th. China and Taiwan have

signed a trade agreement to

further expand the growing

economic ties between the

former enemies. Officials

meeting in Nanjing in even

chirn sealed the deal that will

allow the free flow of many

goods, services and capital

between the two countries. Only

Taiwan's agriculture sector

will still be protected from

Chinese import, a concession to

Taiwan's farmers. TRANSLATION:

We should say that the

cross-strait relations have

ushered in a new era of

peaceful development, after

experiencing major historic

breakthroughs over the past 60

years. Other agreements will

allow mainland China to invest

in Taiwan and for banks to open

branches in both countries. As

Papua New Guinea struggles to

provide basic health and

education services to its

people, it's having to con tend

with growing communities living

in its rubbish tips. Despite

the health risks those living

there don't want to leave,

because they're making more

money than PNG's minimum wage

earners. At the edge of Port

Moresby's biggest rubbish tip,

a family sifts through tons of

garbage looking for empty

bottles to sell. They're part

of a community of 500 people

who live off garbage from Port

Moresby's interests. You get

plenty of something to recycle.

There's a lot we get from this

dump. We make money from what

people see as rubbish. Eric is

a community leader who's lived

here for seven years. During an

average week, he can make up to

$1,000 selling empty bottles to

recyclers. That's 10 times the

minimum wage in Papua New

Guinea. Three attempts by the

government and traditional

landowners to have them

relocated have been

unsuccessful because they keep

coming back. Eric says the

government has to give them a

better option if they are to

move. People are familiar with

it, people have grown up there

all their lives. Unless you

give people a viable alternative, then it's no good

trying to remove people from

dumps. While the money may be

good, the women and children of

this settlement don't have

ready access to health and

education pass Englands. UNICEF

and the PNG government have

since included these women and

children in a joint study to

establish the reasons that

caused them to live

here. Sometimes tribal

fighting, sometimes violence in

the home. Sometimes looking for

greater economic

opportunities. In the last 30

years, more and more illegal dump settlements have been

established throughout Papua

New Guinea's major towns and

cities as people slip into

poverty. Relocating those

communities will mean

negotiating with traditional

landowners who for the most

part are unwilling to give up

their land. You're watching ABC News for

Australia Network. Our top

story in this bulletin - a

deadly swine flu outbreak

spreads to other countries, but

world health experts say they

are well placed to cope with

the crisis.

Now let's check financial

markets as they open up across

the region this morning.

Sport now. Jenson Button

has consolidated his lead in the Formula One Championship,

with victory in the Bahrain

Grand Prix. In sweltering

conditions, the Briton steered

his Brawn GP car to victory

ahead of Sebastien Vettel and

Trulli. Button has now won

three of the first four races

this season. No rain, no safety

cars, finally a proper race.

Just the stifling heat to deal

with for the drivers. 20

supercharged saunas set off in

Bahrain. The cars in front were

Toyotas. The manoeuvring behind

them made for an incredible

first lap. Lewis Hamilton flew

from fifth to third. Brawn GP

cut holes in the bottom of Jenson Button's car to help

cool it down. He got back in

front of Hamilton. That maf was

so important as the race

settled down very quickly and

became a tactical battle waged

in the pit lane, where Brawn

got it so right. Keeping Button

ahead of the Toyotas and

Hamilton and just where he

needed to be on the track. It

was near perfect as Button led

the field home. Maximum

points again and didn't he

enjoy it! Oh guys! Yeah yeah!

Yeah yeah yeah! You won

Melbourne first lap, great overtaking. To get the win here

is just amazing. Going back

into Europe with 31 points on

the board, a 12 point lead, I

think it is, I can't wish for

any more at the moment. There

was one sore point, though. The

top of his left buttock to be

precise. He burnt it as his car

overheated. But there's no

medicine like champagne!

I'm sure it will numb the

pain! Now still on motor sport

- Spain's Jorge Lorenzo has won

the Japanese Moto GP. He led

home a Yamaha one-two finish,

fighting off a challenge from

reigning world champion

Valentino Rossi. It's Jorge

Lorenzo's second win of his

Moto GP career. Australia's

Casey Stoner finished fourth.

Let's check the weather now as

we all start the working week.

Almost 12 months to the day

since their world was turned

upside down in the Sichuan

earthquake, 20 Chinese couples,

many of whom lost their loved

ones in the quake, have taken

part in a mass wedding. The

ceremony was held in Beichuan,

one of the worst hit places

during last year's quake and

was conducted according to the

custom of the local people. The

setting was one of the few

buildings to stay upright

during the disaster. The

couples say they want to rebuild their

lives. TRANSLATION: It's a new

beginning for us. It's time to

forget the past and start

anew. Our people are starting

anew. Officials had expected

about 100 couples to tie the knot but many pulled out

feeling uneasy about all the

publicity. You've been watching ABC News for Australia Network.

Another look at our top

stories. A deadly swine flu

outbreak spreads to other

countries, but world health

experts say they're well placed

to cope. Tamil Tigers in Sri

Lanka call for a unilateral

ceasefire but the government

rejects their offer. And the

Taliban in Pakistan say the

latest military advance

violates a peace deal in the troubled Swat Valley. That's

the bulletin for now. For more

news and current affairs from

the region, go to our web site. I'm Beverley O'Connor. Thanks

for your company. Hope to see

you soon. Bye-bye now. Closed Captions by CSI