A plague of mice that has ravaged vast swathes of eastern Australia has forced the evacuation of a prison while authorities repair gnawed electrical wiring and clear dead and decaying mice from walls and ceilings.
Around 200 staff and 420 inmates will be transferred from the Wellington Correctional Centre in rural New South Wales state to other prisons in the region during the next 10 days while cleaning and repairs take place, Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin said on Tuesday. “The health, safety and wellbeing of staff and inmates is our No. 1 priority so it’s important for us to act now to carry out the vital remediation work,” Severin said.
Millions of mice have caused havoc in the grain-growing region of Australia’s most populous state for months, devouring crops and haystacks as well as invading homes, businesses, schools, hospitals and prisons.
Country fights UN downgrade of Great Barrier Reef health
Australia said on Tuesday it will fight against plans to downgrade the Great Barrier Reef’s World Heritage status due to climate change, while environmentalists have applauded the UN World Heritage Committee’s proposal.
The committee said in a draft report on Monday “there is no possible doubt” that the network of colourful corals off Australia’s northeast coast was “facing ascertained danger”.
The report recommends that the world’s most extensive coral reef ecosystem be added to UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger, which includes 53 sites, when the World Heritage Committee considers the question in China in July.
The listing could shake Australians’ confidence in their government’s ability to care for the natural wonder and create a role for UNESCO headquarters in devising so-called “corrective measures”, which would likely include tougher action to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.