news

Saturday's news in less than 5 minutes.

This is what’s making news in Australia and around the world today…

1. Reports of 44 deaths as Cyclone Pam hits Vanuatu.

More than 200,000 people are reported to be at risk from Cyclone Pam, as the category 5 tropical storm batters Vanuatu.

Bringing with it winds of up to 250 kilometres per hour and triggering flooding across the island nation, there are unconfirmed reports that as many as 44 people have died as a result of the storm so far.

The category 5 storm hit Vanuatu yesterday.

The centre of the cyclone has already passed the nation’s capital of Port Vila, which is home to one sixth of Vanuatu’s population, and continues to move at about 27 kilometres per hour.

On Friday the government issued red alerts for the entire country, with aid and emergency services warning of the likely impact of the storm being torrential rainfalls, flash flooding, landslides and storm surge.

Cyclone Pam.

The Vanuatu Meteorological Services warned of “very destructive winds and very rough to phenomenal seas with heavy swells.”

New Zealanders are also being told to prepare as Pam is expected to track south over the next two days. Details to come.

2. Bali Nine: Legal appeals could delay Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran’s executions for months.

By Indonesia correspondent George Roberts for ABC News. 

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran‘s execution could be months away with Indonesia’s attorney-general saying he will wait for all condemned inmates to have their appeals heard before they face a firing squad.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran’s executions may be delayed for up to several months.

Two Australian drug smugglers on death row in Indonesia could have their executions delayed for months, while other inmates pursue lengthy court appeals.

Indonesian attorney-general Muhammad Prasetyo has told Indonesia’s respected journalism group Tempo the next round of executions will be carried out once all of the condemned inmates have finished their appeals. That is a process that could take months to resolve.

Read more: Julie Bishop’s final attempt to save Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

Earlier this week Mr Prasetyo left open the option of dividing up the group of 11 as individual appeals are completed. However, his latest comments mean that the Australians, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, could be spared from the firing squad for months, while other foreigners on death row beside them pursue judicial reviews of their cases.

Chan and Sukumaran’s lawyers will return to a Jakarta court on Thursday to challenge their death sentences.

A version of this story was originally published on ABC and has been republished with full permission.

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3. Australian woman found dead in Bali hotel room.

Police are investigating the death of an Australian woman who was found in her hotel room in Bali on Friday morning.

It is reported that the 54-year-old Melbourne woman, who was holidaying with her sister and friends, had been complaining of difficulty breathing the day before. Forensic doctor Ida Bagus Putu Alit said the woman showed signs of death from asphyxiation caused by respiratory issues.

The Akmani Hotel, Legian, where the Melbourne woman was staying.

An initial examination conducted by forensic doctors also found no signs of violence or criminal activity.

The woman, who is reported to be from Carlton, checked into the Akmani Hotel in Legian on March 7 and was due to return to Australia this Friday.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are assisting the woman’s family as investigations continue.

4. Body of missing Melbourne man, Dane Kowalski, believed to have been found.

Just two days after his ute was recovered, the body of missing Melbourne man Dane Kowalski is reported to have been found in remote South Australia, police say.

Dane Kowalski’s body was recovered on Friday.

The 27-year-old, who has been missing since December 13 last year, was embarking on a solo drive to Darwin. On Wednesday his ute was recovered in scrub less than four kilometres off the Stuart Highway, 95 kilometres south of Coober Pedy.

A statement on the Find Dane Facebook page on Friday confirms reports that Dane’s body was found by searchers around 12.30pm not far from his car.

Details to come.

5. The world’s first successful penis transplant has been performed.

The world’s first successful penis transplant has been performed in South Africa on a 21 year-old man whose organ had been amputated three years previous as a result of a botched circumcision.

The young man has made a full recovery of all urinary and reproductive functions. Nine others have already signed up for the procedure that may eventually be offered to men as a last resort for extreme erectile dysfunction, or for those who have lost their penis’ due to illness.

Each year in South Africa thousands of young men, particularly those belonging to the Xhosa tribe, undergo ritual circumcision to mark their journey to manhood.

In 2013, 20 young men died as a result of failed circumcisions in the northern province of Mpumalanga and 30 died in similar rituals in Eastern Cape. These tragedies have prompted calls for reforms concerning the practice.

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