Daily News Roundup

September 6, 2021



Anthony “AJ” Elfalak, 3, who was found alive after spending three days alone in remote bushland in the New South Wales Hunter Valley has been released from hospital.

The toddler was found drinking muddy water at a creek in dense bushland by a police helicopter yesterday around 11:30am.

He was 500 metres from where he went missing on his family’s property at Putty, near Singleton, around midday on Friday.

AJ — who has autism and is non-verbal — left Maitland Hospital with his mother last night to return to home where his family were celebrating his rescue with a traditional Lebanese BBQ and bonfire.

The boy was relatively unscathed but had nappy rash, ant bites and had fallen over, according to his father, Anthony Elfalak.

SES volunteer Greg Chalmers was the State Emergency Service (SES) volunteer who first reached AJ.

The volunteers were about three hours into the search for that day and were painstakingly checking the bush as they moved down from the top of a ridge.

Mr Charmers say they combed the area at the top of the same ridge on Saturday night.

He said he would never forget the look on the little boy’s face when he was found.

“This poor little man, just kneeled in the water drinking this water just trying to keep hydrated,” he said.

“I put my hand on his shoulder, knowing his condition, and the chopper noise was loud, he looked around, he had a smile on his face, he just didn’t believe it.”

Mr Chalmers said he had carried AJ out of the valley, which was about a 700-metre walk in rough terrain, and the boy had fallen asleep on his shoulder.

NSW Ambulance special operations team paramedic Gerry Pike treated AJ at the scene and described to Channel 7 the excitement when the news came through that the little boy had been found.

“Once PolAir had sighted him and directed the SES guys into the [bush], mate it was elation all around, you could feel it in the air,” he said.

“Little AJ, he just did not want to let go of the SES fella.”

Mr Pike said he was surprised by how well AJ was after three nights in the bush.

“The fact he was able to get some water into him and have that … survival instinct to sort of know, ‘I’ve got to drink something’.”

Hundreds of people — including PolAir, the dog squad, divers, the mounted unit, State Emergency Service (SES), Rural Fire Service (RFS) and Volunteer Rescue Association (VRA) personnel — were part of the search team.

Police said they would continue to investigate the circumstances around why the boy went missing to understand what occurred.


*While COVID-19 infections are rising in NSW, vaccination levels are also accelerating.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said this morning that “pleasingly the NSW average for first doses [for people aged over 16] is now over 74 per cent”.

NSW has reported 1220 new local coronavirus cases on Tuesday, as the state’s chief health officer warns vaccination rates in older people are still too low despite record increases in coverage continuing to be recorded in Sydney’s west.

Eight deaths were reported on Tuesday, including an Aboriginal woman in her 70s from Enngonia, in NSW’s west, whose death was first reported on Monday. The other seven deaths were:

  • A man in his 60s from the Nepean-Blue Mountains area who died at home.
  • A man in his 90s from south-east Sydney who died at St George Hospital.
  • A man in his 50s from the Nepean-Blue Mountains area who died at Nepean Hospital.
  • A man in his 90s from south-west Sydney who died at Campbelltown Hospital after acquiring his infection at Advantage Aged Care Facility at Prestons Lodge.
  • A woman in her 70s from western Sydney who died at Nepean Hospital.
  • A man in his 70s from south-west Sydney who died at Liverpool Hospital.
  • A man in his 80s from western Sydney who died at Westmead Hospital.

*Victoria has recorded 246 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19.

Contact tracers have so far linked 90 of the cases to existing outbreaks, but the number of those people who were in the community while infectious is no longer being reported each day.

The cases were detected from 43,858 test results processed on Monday, when 32,300 doses of vaccine were delivered at state-run sites.

On Monday, Health Minister Martin Foley said the state was “a little bit ahead” of schedule to reach its goal of 70 per cent of people aged over 16 having a first COVID-19 vaccine dose by September 23.

Meeting that goal would result in some slight easing of restrictions, including an expansion of the 5-kilometre travel limit to 10 km and three hours of outdoor exercise each day.

The state government has also flagged a potential earlier easing of restrictions in regional areas.

*Queensland has recorded zero new locally acquired cases of COVID-19, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced.

There are now 18 active cases in the state, with no new cases detected in the hotel quarantine system.

There were 12,649 tests conducted in the past 24 hours.

The Premier said 53.33 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have had their first dose of the COVID vaccine and 34.75 per cent of eligible Queenslanders are fully vaccinated.

Ms Palaszczuk said 200 police officers will be vaccinated at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre vaccination hub, which opens tomorrow.

She urged Queenslanders: “Don’t delay, get vaccinated.”

“Now, Queensland, is your window of opportunity to get vaccinated.”


Australian families have given emotional evidence to a Dutch court in the ongoing murder trial of four men over the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, reports ABC’s Isabella Higgins

“My parents were murdered,” James Rizk, one of the first Australians to speak at the hearings, told the court.

He said he was deeply frustrated that no-one had been held accountable.

Two hundred and ninety-eight people died when MH17 was shot down over Ukraine in 2014. Thirty-eight of the passengers were Australian citizens and residents.

Prosecutors accuse three Russians and a Ukrainian citizen of murder.

Moscow has blocked the extradition of the men in the country, and continues to deny involvement in the attack, in a conflict area of eastern Ukraine.

The children of Albert and Maree Rizk, who were on their way home from a European holiday aboard MH17, told the court speaking out was important to them.

Both told prosecutors of the horror and torment of the first few days after the incident, when they watched images of the burning plane wreckage on TV.

“I remember taking a few moments to myself and thinking, my parents have just been murdered. There is no other way to put it, ” Mr Rizk said.

He and his sister appeared in The Hague courtroom via videolink from Melbourne, almost 16,000 kilometres away.

“The reality is we may never have a conclusion or complete closure over who killed Mum and Dad,” he told the court.

“The frustrating part for me is the powers that are holding the conclusion of this trial back.

“Everyone can see the sheer arrogance of Russia, the misinformation from Russia.”

His sister described the aftermath of the crash as “a seven-year, painful, repetitive rollercoaster ride I wouldn’t wish on my own worst enemy.”

Vanessa Rizk recounted all the milestones her parents had missed; births, marriages and all the moments in between.

“I feel we were robbed of so many opportunities. My two-month-old son Patrick Albert has been robbed of his grandparents, love, kindness and sunshine,” she said.

“Seven years on, I am determined that you will never, ever break my spirit and capacity to live and love just as my parents would have wanted me to.”

The three children of Brisbane couple Susan and Howard Horder, who also died in the crash, are expected to front the court tonight AEST.

The trial will be hearing evidence from dozens of families who lost their relatives in the crash for at least the next fortnight.

Almost two-thirds of the victims were from the Netherlands.

Dutch national Ria Van Der Steen was the first to share her story, saying she feared those responsible for the death of her father and stepmother would never be held accountable.

“I’m absolutely full of feelings of hate, of revenge, of anger and fear, fear that we don’t obtain justice, fear that those who did this will not take responsibility,” she told the court.

Investigators have told earlier hearings the plane was struck by a Russian surface-to-air missile, supplied to Russian-backed rebels from a Russian base.

The trial began in March 2020 and is expected to continue for months.


Jean-Pierre Adams — the former France, Nice and Paris Saint-Germain defender who spent 39 years in a coma — has died, aged 73.

Adams was injured in a match and required knee surgery in 1982, but he was administered a near-fatal dose of anaesthetic ahead of the operation, which caused brain damage.

Cared for by his wife, Bernadette, Adams has been lying in a coma ever since at his home in the southern French city of Nîmes, where his professional football career started in 1970.

He played for Nîmes Olympique until 1973, moving to Nice and playing there until 1977, before joining French giants Paris Saint-Germain (1977-79).

In a tribute, PSG called him one of the club’s “glorious elders”.

“His joie de vivre, his charisma and his experience command respect. Paris Saint-Germain offers its condolences to his family and loved ones,” the club said in a statement on Monday.

Adams also played 22 internationals for France, from 1972 to 1976.

French Football Federation president Noël Le Graët said Adams “remained present in our memories in such a special and sad way since his dramatic accident”.

“Jean-Pierre Adams was an example by his life course and his career as a respected and feared player, whether with his successive clubs Nîmes, Nice and PSG in the French championship or in the French team,” Le Graët said in a statement.

“He formed a duo of legendary defenders with Marius Trésor which all fans of the Blues and football remember.

“Jean-Pierre Adams has participated in the history of the French team, in its influence, in its values. Today the French team is in mourning, the Federation is in mourning.

“We think of his wife, his family and all his relatives to whom we send our deep friendship and our most sincere condolences.”

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