this is bbc news, i'm reged ahmad. our top stories: australia orders a mass evacuation from coastal areas of new south wales. thousands have already hit the road, as bushfires close in. pro—iranian militia and their supporters pullback from the us embassy in baghdad, after a second day of violence. israel's prime minister, benjamin netanyahu, seeks immunity from prosecution over charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. and dozens of endangered primates die in a fire at a german zoo.
hello and welcome to bbc news. thousands of holidaymakers have been fleeing coastal areas of new south wales, after being warned it is not safe for them to stay in bushfire—hit parts of eastern australia. there are trafficjams on major roads, although the evacuation is hampered by a lack of fuel. the authorities are urging tourists and residents to leave while they can. saturday is forecast to be another punishing day in south—eastern australia with more hot, dry and windy weather. a "tourist leave zone" has been declared for a 180 kilometre stretch of the new south wales coast from batemans bay to wonboyn . almost 1,300 homes have been destroyed in the state since the fire crisis began. phil mercer is in sydney. he's got the latest. we've seen pictures of the lines of cars as people try to get out. that's right,
thousands of people are heeding the official warning to leave those parts of the new south wales south coast while they can. the authorities are extremely nervous about conditions forecast for saturday here in eastern australia. as you say, more hot, windy, dry conditions on their way and given what happened on the part of eastern australia, across the state of victoria and new south wales on new year's eve, you can understand why people are anxious to leave as quickly as they can. what is hampering the evacuation, lack of fuel and also in many areas, a lack of mobile phone and internet coverage as well. so it's pretty chaotic and parts down there. but many, chaotic and parts down there. but any chaotic and parts down there. but many, many people are leaving and heeding that official warning. what are people saying about the state response and the federal response? to people feel that the government
is doing enough to help? at a local level we are hearing that many community as —— communities that remain isolated, there are some small townships where people can't leave either because they are directly threatened by the fire or that the roads are closed. they often complain that they are not getting enough information. certainly the authorities are doing their very best to keep everybody informed but i think it's safe to say that part of australia, perhaps australia as a whole, has never seen anything like this. suddenly new south wales this mass exodus from the south coast, we've never seen anything like that before. the authorities are trying their best to firstly reach those communities that have been cut off, also urging people to leave on the same time, ——at the same time they continue to battle dozens of fires as well. the emergency effort is being stretched to the very limit. there's been a
focus on mallacoota, the people stranded on the foreshore. is there any update on what is going to happen because there are thousands that? they understand that about 500 people will be evacuated from mallacoota. this is a small seaside community, it's about 500 kilometres to the east of melbourne, in a region called east gibson. it has been the focus of many, many, dangerous fires since new year's eve. those 500 people will, we understand the might be taken to safety by a navy ship. the others who are still there, there are thousands of residents and holidaymakers who can't get out because the roads are closed. they may well be there for days. it is frustrating for some but of course those who get to leave, there will be belief that they are all —— their ordeal is finally over. it's safe to say saturday and perhaps friday, more dangerous conditions so parts of australia preparing for another onslaught, and be here in western
australia today there are catastrophic fire warnings are part of that state as well. phil moser in sydney, thank you very much for that update. we've been hearing that the premise is due to give a news conference shortly. we will bring that to you as soon as it happens on bbc news. protesters in baghdad have all now pulled back from the us embassy, after earlier attacking the compound, for the second day running. the crowd were supporters of a militia, backed by iran, and their protest was against us air strikes last week, inside iraq, which killed 25 members of the militia. jonathan josephs reports. the bitter struggle between the us and iran has again been playing out on the streets of iraq. a sizeable crowd of protesters and iranian—backed militias set fire to the perimeter of the american embassy in baghdad for a second day. but us troops have used tear gas and stun grenades to force them back.
just some of the thousands of troops it has in the country. translation: this is not the first time the us have hit us. we will never move from here, i swear on god and on my life, until they leave here. translation: we are holding a sit-in for the souls of our martyrs until the departure of the american occupiers. iraq's military says the protesters have now withdrawn and that its forces have completely secured the perimeter. that will be welcomed by president trump, who has urged the iraqi government to take a tough line. nonetheless, around 750 additional soldiers have been deployed to the region and, despite reinforcements being sent in, the us embassy has suspended all public consular operations. amid his new year celebrations, president trump warned he wouldn't allow a repeat
of the 2012 storming of the us consulate in the libyan city of benghazi, where four americans were killed. the marines came in, we had some great warriors come in and do a fantasticjob. and they were there instantaneously, as soon as we heard. i use the word immediately, they came immediately, and it is in great shape, as you know. this will not be a benghazi. benghazi should never have happened. president trump blames iran for the death of an american contractor at an iraqi military base last week. he responded with these air strikes against the iranian—backed militia, kata'ib hezbollah, at the weekend. 25 people were killed. that's drawn strong condemnation from iran's supreme leader, ayatollah ali khamenei, who said president trump's threats were hollow. translation: if the islamic republic decides to challenge and fight a country, it will do so unequivocally. we are strongly committed to our country's interest and our peace.
we are strongly committed to the dignity of our country. these protests come amid a us—iran relationship that has deteriorated since washington pulled out of the nuclear weapons deal in 2018. and all the while, iraq finds itself stuck in the middle, trying to help the us see off the so—called islamic state group, but at the same time trying to protect its relationship with neighbouring iran. jonathan josephs, bbc news. let's ta ke let's take you straight to australia 110w let's take you straight to australia now where the premises got mice and is giving a news conference about the fires. let's have a listen. both in victoria and new south wales, and iam in in victoria and new south wales, and i am in constant contact with the premiers of both of those states. i'm also mindful of the emergency
situation —— emerging situation in south australia devon in tasmania. and we will continue to work with those dates where the need arises. ata those dates where the need arises. at a commonwealth level, our task has been to fully support and provide whatever assistance is necessary through all the various agencies of the commonwealth. now, that has gone from the provision of disaster payments that have now exceeded something more than $21 million in new south wales alone. and we expect more that to continue in victoria is the full devastation of the fires the becomes more evident in the damage assessments that people able to make, the claims of those funds. that has been an important task for the commonwealth, working with the states, where the assistance has been triggered. to give those payments to people as quickly as possible and i want to thank all of those in services australia who have working to
deliver those payments and support and also i should say the state government agencies who have directly been involved in the administering of those payments. there is also the work that is being done through emergency management australia, it is so important particularly as we are going through what can be a very dangerous exercise of evacuation and getting people to safety, is the premier of victoria was just setting a few moments ago, this can be done in a very co—ordinated way. and so it is important as we work through those evacuations that people continue to remain patient and remain calm and to follow instructions and for those places where there is still stores and other assistance to be provided, it is on its way. i've just come off the phone speaking to the sea ef general to ensure that all that effort is being deployed around the
country as needed. the other important assistance that is being provided by the commonwealth is the support provided by the defence forces themselves as i just support provided by the defence forces themselves as ijust noted. as you know we have deployed naval assets which we moved earlier this week and there are other assets that have been identified and are awaiting tasking. all these assets i should stress, whether it's the blackhawks or any of the other things that are being made available, that is being done to get in readiness to deploy and secondly it is then activated at the request of the state agencies. what you cannot have these situations as governments stepping over the top of each other in responding to a natural disaster like this. it must follow a clear chain of command, it must follow their daughter's model which is in place and which commonwealth authorities are embedded in, both in new south wales and victoria. in both new south wales and victoria, there are joint
taskforces which have been stood up by defence, which are co—ordinating the defence engagement in each of those responses they are plug—in to the headquarters in both new south wales and victoria. with the roads 110w wales and victoria. with the roads now open, up the road to sydney, we know that people are making their way back to sydney or other places where they have come from where they were holidaying down on the south coast. i would continue to ask people to be patient, i know if you have kids in the car and is anxiety and distress in the traffic is not moving quickly. but the best thing to do, the best thing that helps those out there volunteering, out there trying to restore some water to situations, is for everyone just to situations, is for everyone just to be patient and that helpful arrive. there are parts of both victoria and new south wales which have been completely devastated with the loss of power, loss of communications, every absolute effort is in train to make sure those things can be stood up as soon
as possible. in some cases we can get tankers in to restore fuel supplies, that is now greatly assisted. there are bases which are difficult to get their supplies into but we will be able to do that as soon as we possibly can. defence has been assisting providing advice, companies to assist in communications restored as soon as possible. in the same things are being done when it comes to standing up being done when it comes to standing up energy supplies. particularly down in places where we know that dairies have been milking and they simply have to pull the milk down the hill because of the lack of power to those areas at this time. thus the tragedy of what is occurring as a result of these disasters. but i really do want to commend the state agencies and their leaders, both within the fire services and other emergency management agencies that are co—ordinating this response and leading it both in victoria and new south wales. from this point on,
what the commonwealth will continue to do is to support those operational efforts. we will also be there to support the recovery effo rts there to support the recovery efforts and they will start coming into being in the weeks ahead in the months ahead indeed. and nobody had a number of discussions about the various payments and forms of assistance that go to small businesses that have been impacted in the category c assistance. it's already available in so many local government areas around the country. in these affected areas, that support will be very important and there are other levels of assistance that we can move to as we saw was so effective up in response to the north queensland floods. making sure... into the australian payments to scott morrison given update on the situation with the bushfires, he did pay tribute to firefighters. he talked about 21 million dollars in disaster payments in disaster payments being handed out and a lot about the co—ordination of safe
evacuations, asking people to remain patient, calm, missing a lot of cues as people try to evacuate and he talked about co—ordinating the commonwealth, federal response, with the state response, but will keep you up—to—date as those events continue to develop in australia. to stay with bbc world news. much more coming up. the most ambitious financial and political change ever attempted has got under way with the introduction of the euro. tomorrow in holland, we're going to use money we picked up in belgium today. and then we'll be in france and again, it will be the same money. it's just got to be the way to go.
george harrison, the former beatle, is recovering in hospital after being stabbed at his oxfordshire home. a 33—year—old man from liverpool is being interviewed by police on suspicion of attempted murder. i think it was good. reporter: it was just good? no, fantastic! that's better! big ben strikes the hour this is bbc news, the latest headlines. australian officials have ordered a mass evacuation from coastal areas of new south wales. thousands have already had the road as bushfires close in. pro—iranian militia
and their supporters have pulled back from the us embassy in baghdad, after a second day of violence. let's get more on that situation now. lieutenant general david deptula is a retired us air force commander who controlled some of america's biggest air combat operations in iraq and afghanistan. he is now dean at the mitchell institute for aerospace studies. he joins me now from arlington virginia. do you have any information or a theory about why these protesters have withdrawn as quickly as they have withdrawn as quickly as they have arrived? i would suggest to you that i think the iraqi leadership understands the significance and the importance of needing to control these militants, who is i think your audience can see from the clip that you showed, they are not really protesters at all, they are
militants of the hezbollah brigades that are really an iraqi paramilitary group. but i think the iraqi leadership understands that they need to control these folks because there are various consequences if, in fact, they are not controlled and they are allowed to continue their aggression towards the american embassy. to continue their aggression towards the american embassylj to continue their aggression towards the american embassy. i wonder what happens now, and how the united states and iraq get to a point where they can smooth things out in terms of the relationship where everyone is involved? that is a good question, the embassy attack and the ongoing us response really present a stark choice for a rug's leaders about the countries future. will they opt for international isolation, orfor they opt for international isolation, or for the type of sovereign functional governance that iraqi protesters have been asking
and paying for since october first. at the same time, if by may, the us faces its own quandary. while the air attacks against the hezbollah brigades were necessary, carrying out attacks without taking other policy measures could give iraqi political elites an excuse for keeping delaying critical reforms stopping these other same reforms that the demonstrators... it's an interesting point you make a better choice for the year with. isn't there an issue here, the united states isn't really one to commit to keeping troops and really supporting the iraqi government. the iraqi government is going to have to turn to iran and iranian interests. government is going to have to turn to iran and iranian interestslj to iran and iranian interests.” don't think that is a fundamental conclusion, i don't think iraqi leadership understands, and there are many leaders that are willing to stand up against iranian pressure in
order to protect their own interests. if you take a look at the fa ct interests. if you take a look at the fact that iraq still needs us security assistance to stave off any resurgence, additionally iraq's power needs are currently being met by natural gas and they can't buy that without us sanction waivers. so there is a position where the iraqi leadership, as i've mentioned earlier, have got a choice. they can succumb into the iranian camp, or they can support their own national sovereignty, and the united states is willing to help them. thank you very much for your thoughts on a very much for your thoughts on a very complex story. you bet, have a great day. israel's prime minister benjamin netanyahu says he will seek parliamentary immunity from prosecution in three cases in which he's charged with bribery and fraud. the immunity request could delay legal proceedings against him for months. mr netanyahu made his announcement
in a live television address. translation: i intend to ask the speaker of the knesset, according to article 4, to let me implement my right, my duty and my mission to continue serving you, for the future of israel. i intend to ask because i am sacrificing my life to you, people of israel. but there are people who, unlike me, did commit grave crimes, and they have lifelong immunity. they are just on the right side of the media and the left wing. sara hirschhorn is an assistant professor of israel studies at northwestern university in chicago. shejoins me now. thank you so much for your time. will he get immunity? it is very uncertain. at the moment there is no parliamentary committee that could even consider netanyahu's request because israel is now headed to its third election and does not have a government and does not have any
parliamentary committee standing to consider this request which will not happen at least until the second of march when the third israeli election and a calendar year will be held. it is a relatively strong case against mr netanyahu. he denies any wrongdoing but why doesn't he step down? this is a question that is very much on the minds of the israeli public at the moment. while netanyahu israeli public at the moment. while neta nyahu is entitled israeli public at the moment. while netanyahu is entitled to bring an immunity request before the parliament, it needs to satisfy certain criteria, which include discrimination, bad faith, or his inability to carry out the duties of the parliament and it does not seem that his personal political scandals will necessarily meet those criteria. you have just returned from tel aviv, i wonder what people are saying about prime minister netanyahu, are saying about prime minister neta nyahu, about the are saying about prime minister netanyahu, about the man himself?” think there are two sides of that
coin. the first is those are extraordinarily frustrated that israel has been without a government for nearly a calendar year and a place the blame at the feet of netanyahu place the blame at the feet of neta nyahu who has place the blame at the feet of netanyahu who has been able to —— unable to form a coalition. he certainly has his loyalists who are proud of his record in the economy, with security situation, and feel that only neta nyahu with security situation, and feel that only netanyahu can keep them safe and secure in a changing and challenging world. netanyahu's korea is one of extraordinary staying power but is this also the issue that there isn't really a strong alternative to him? very much so. netanyahu alternative to him? very much so. neta nya hu recently entered alternative to him? very much so. netanyahu recently entered his 10th year of his prime ministership, the longest serving and is history. just briefly, there is another election to come up, do you foresee the party
staying with neta nyahu, to come up, do you foresee the party staying with netanyahu, do you think there is going to be any change on this? there was a party primary when netanyahu this? there was a party primary when neta nyahu defeated his this? there was a party primary when netanyahu defeated his fellow minister in the government. of course a primary is not indicative of the larger vote of the israeli population, but certainly netanyahu has retained his status as the first on the list, meaning that he would be the next prime minister in government, so it will now be up to the public to decide if they will give the likud party the largest number of mandate to form the next government. all right, we will keep an eye on those elections in march. thank you very much for your time. thank you very much for your time. thank you, happy new year. let's get more of
the day's other news. the former national basketball association commissioner david stern has died aged 77. mr stern took charge of the sport in 1984 and during his 30 years an office for basketball‘s revenues increase more than 30 fold. and before we go, we'd like to leave you with these pictures. motorists in the us state of washington found their way blocked by vast thickets of tumbleweed, which were blown across a highway in benton county. five cars and a truck were trapped for hours over the new year. the department of transportation had to use snow ploughs to clear
the weed, which was up to five metres high in places. impressive! stay with us on bbc news, lots more coming up. hello there. it was a relatively quiet start to the new year weather—wise, wasn't it? but a change is likely through today, we are going to see some stronger winds and also some rain around as well. now, if i show you the pressure chart you will see exactly what i'm talking about. the wet weather starting to push into the north—west and plenty of isobars here, so that's where the strongest of the winds and the heaviest of the rain is likely to be. now, these weather fronts are really just keeping the cold air for the moment at bay, but with that south—westerly feed at least it's a mild sort, so that blanket of cloud preventing those temperatures from falling too far. so a mild start to thursday, there will be some rain, some of it heavy as it moves
through scotland and as one front clears away it will be replaced by yet another. so, by the middle of the afternoon it is going to be windy and often wet at times. the first front moves out of the scottish borders into north wales, ahead of it it will stay rather cloudy and grey, blustery, but the strongest of the winds with gusts in excess of 50—60 mph on exposed coasts into the far north—west. but, as i say, a south—westerly wind, double digits quite widely across the country. those fronts sweep their way south and east and so that's going to open the door to this cooler, fresher air, the isobars open up so by the time we get to friday slightly lighter winds but hopefully a little more sunshine around. early morning cloud and rainjust easing away from the far south—east and then it's a relatively dry, quiet afternoon for many, with just a scattering of showers in the far north—west, some sunshine, but temperatures struggling for many to climb into double digits. so, 6—8 degrees in the north, 9 to maybe 11 if we're lucky in the south—east corner. as we move into the weekend, high—pressure is set to build from the south and that means that
a relatively quiet story with the weather fronts toppling across the high, so maybe always the chance of a little more in the way of cloud and outbreaks of showery rain into the north—west, the best of the sunshine on saturday across england and wales. and again those temperature is struggling a little, 6—10 degrees at the very best. now, as we move out of saturday into sunday, it's almost a case of spot the difference but the wind direction changing once again. always the risk of a little more cloud the further north and west you are, the best of the drier, brighter weather into the east and we mightjust see temperatures peaking at around 9—11 degrees. then as we move out of the weekend into next week where most of us are set to go back to a proper week of work, it looks like the north and west will stay blustery and wet, the best of the drier and brighter weather in the south and east. bye— bye.
australian officials have ordered a mass evacuation from coastal areas of new south wales. thousands have already hit the road as wildfires close in. a warship's been sent to help people trapped in neighbouring victoria. there's growing public criticism of how the prime minister scott morrison has handled the crisis. protesters in baghdad have pulled back from the us embassy, after attacking the compound for the second day running. the crowd were supporters of a militia, backed by iran. their protest was against us air strikes last week inside iraq, which killed 25 militia members. israel's prime minister benjamin netanyahu has said he'll seek parliamentary immunity from prosecution in three cases in which he's charged with bribery and fraud. the request could delay legal proceedings against him for months. mr netanyahu, who denies any wrongdoing, says the charges against him are politically motivated.