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National Radio Midday Report

Indian Drought – East Timor Death – Social Workers In Schools – Easter Plane Crash – Chathams Salvage – West Coast Package – Fraud Trial – Zimbabwe – Falungong – Qantas Plane Trouble – Greek Olympics – Illegal Dumps – White Island

INDIAN DROUGHT: India’s PM has appealed to politicians to work together to assist 50 million victims of the worst drought in 50 years. Crop yields are down 70%. Poor farm families are being driven into poverty with the loss of their livestock. For some walking to the nearest well can take hours. The sheer scale of the crisis is huge.

EAST TIMOR DEATH: A military investigation is underway into a fatal accident in East Timor which killed a New Zealand serviceman. The army says initial findings will be released as soon as possible. The three injured soldiers are in a stable condition in hospital. The accident happened just days before a regular changeover of troops.

SOCIAL WORKERS IN SCHOOLS: The government has extended a social-worker in schools programme to cover nearly 200 schools. More than 60 social workers will work in 185 schools.

EASTER PLANE CRASH: Postmortems are due to be completed this afternoon on the six victims of Easter Monday’s plane crash near Wanaka.

CHATHAMS SALVAGE: A salvage team is working in the Chatham Islands working to refloat the Seafresh 1 which sank off the coast of the island recently after a fire. The boat is being salvaged to prevent the spread of seaweed.

WEST COAST PACKAGE: West Coast Mayors say they will meet government ministers to discuss a $100 million package offered to the West Coast but they may reject it. One mayor says that unless there is a change in government attitude he will be recommending the offer be rejected.

FRAUD TRIAL: The trial of a Lower Hutt woman accused of fraud of $40 million has begun in Wellington. Anita Faisandier returned from the US in late 1998 after being tracked down by the Serious Fraud Office. The trial is set down for three weeks.

ZIMBABWE: There has been more violence in Zimbabwe with three deaths of opposition MDC party activists since Friday. The government has accused white farmers of provoking attacks on themselves. Concern among the congregation at a funeral for farmer David Stevens has shifted to the farm workers.

FALUNGONG: About 100 members of the Falungong religious sect have been arrested in Tianamen square in China on the anniversary of mass arrests last year. The protestors mingled with tourists before beginning their protests.

QANTAS PLANE TROUBLE: Engineers have replaced an engine on a Qantas 767 in Cairns. In Rome another Qantas plane was grounded after breaking a landing strut.

GREEK OLYMPICS: Greece is rushing to improve its preparations for hosting the 2004 Olympics after a scathing attack from the IOC. The Greeks have been warned that unless they organise better they will lose the games.

ILLEGAL DUMPS: Transit New Zealand is considering supporting a Wanganui man who wants to clean up illegal rubbish dumps. Mr Weaver says there are hundreds of illegal dumps along NZ roads. Transit says he doesn’t think dumps are a major public concern but that it is considering donating $20,000 to a campaign.

WHITE ISLAND: Scientists are making their way to White Island to investigate a suspicious halt in volcanic activity on the island. More news is expected early this afternoon.

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