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In brief: News from the Pacific

Wednesday 5 January 2022 | Written by RNZ | Published in Pacific Islands, Regional

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In brief: News from the Pacific
The discoloration of the sea shows a significant discharge of volcanic fluids (steam, condensates laden with chemical elements) into the sea and contaminating the seawater. Photo: Tonga Geological Service

Bringing you the latest news from around the Pacific.

Baby dies in Samoa after being electrocuted at home

An 8 month-old baby died after being electrocuted at home on New Year's day.

Deputy Police Commissioner Auapa'au Logoitino Filipo confirmed the death of the toddler and expressed condolences to the family.

The incident reinforced a call by the Ministry of Police and Prisons for parents and guardians to be vigilant when it come to the safety of their children.

Responding to questions from Radio Polynesia, Auapa'au said that losing a child is never easy but this tragic incident could have been avoided.

He said adults in the family home need to make sure young children can't reach electric sockets, cabinets and shelves are inaccessible, and for a TV stand to be mounted securely to avoid it falling on children.

He said the police are investigating.

Tonga Geological Service warns toxic seawater around volcano may poison fish

Seawater around the active Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai volcano is contaminated with toxic volcanic discharge and local fishermen should assume that fish in these waters are poisonous or poisonous if consumed, Tongan authorities warned.

"The discoloration of the sea shows a significant discharge of volcanic fluids (steam, condensates laden with chemical elements) into the sea and contaminating the seawater.

It is advised to assume fish in these waters are poisoned or poisonous if consumed," Tonga Geological Services told Matangi Tonga.

Volcanic activity has decreased significantly since the explosive eruption of December 20, 2021, when gaseous emissions, including acidic dust and ash, reached altitudes of 3-16km.

"It is safe to reconnect your rainwater harvesting systems at this time," the Tonga Geological Services said.

The volcano continues to be closely monitored for possible renewed increase.

Suspended Samoa police prosecutor reinstated

Samoa's Ministry of Police and Prisons has reinstated suspended police prosecutor Khamtahn Stanley.

He was due back at work on Tuesday.

This was confirmed in a memo issued by the Ministry of Police and Prisons and obtained by Radio Polynesia.

The internal memo issued on 31 December, 2021 showed acting Police Commissioner, Papalii Monalisa Tiai-Keti approved the resumption of duties for Sergeant Khamtahn Stanley, effective on 4 January, 2022.

Sergeant Stanley and High Chief of Vaiusu Ulugia Lomalasi Laufili https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/417055/suspended-police-sergeant-in-samoa-denies-manslaughter-charge were charged with manslaughter] in relation to the death of a 20 year-old man in 2019.

The charge was reduced to actual bodily harm, which both defendants pleaded guilty too.

Last month Stanley was discharged without conviction.

Cruise ships book to berth at Apia harbour

Cruise ships have booked to berth at Apia harbor in Samoa despite the State of Emergency (SOE) lockdown enforce.

It has been two years since lockdowns were initiated by the Samoan government following the global outbreak of Covid-19.

TV1Samoa reports Chief Executive Officer for Samoa Ports Authority, So'oalo Kuresa So'oalo, confirmed the bookings had been made but they will only be allowed in port if there are changes in the SOE orders.

So'oalo said everything is dependent on the National Emergency Operations Committee (NEOC) especially the number of people that have been fully vaccinated.

The NEOC said 86 percent or 104,827 of the eligible Samoan population have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and 117,020 or 96 percent have had first doses.

The number of cruise ship bookings will last three years.

PNG leadership tribunal clears Sir Puka Temu of misconduct

A leadership tribunal in Papua New Guinea has cleared Abau MP, Sir Puka Temu, of the two allegations of misconduct in office.

Tribunal chairman Justice Panuel Mogish said none of the evidence provided supported any element of the allegations of misconduct against Sir Puka.

Sir Puka was charged with two counts of office misconduct in the allegations of awarding a contract for refurbishment and construction of a multi-storey government office complex to Niame Investment Ltd and Central Lands Ltd.

Bad weather in Samoa disrupts interisland ferry service

The cancellation of interisland ferries in Samoa over the last two days due to bad weather has seen the national airline step in to help stranded holiday makers get back in time to start the 2022 working year.

The Samoa Observer reports Samoa Airways started operating flights between Faleolo airport and Maota airstrip on Savaii island on Tuesday as hundreds found themselves unable to travel after the Samoa Shipping Corporation cancelled sailings due to high seas.

But most stranded passengers were unable to fork out the WST$85 one way ticket, with many opting to wait out the bad weather.

The Samoa weather office is forecasting continued strong winds and high sea swells.