Brekky Wrap: Greek Fires Claim 74 Lives And Tour De France Stopped

All the news you need to know this Wednesday.

74 people have been killed by the worst wildfires in a decade in Greece. The blaze ravaged through beachside towns and resorts near Athens as people tried to escape via car while others ran into the water to avoid the blaze. Authorities said some families were found dead huddled together in a last embrace before the flames took their lives. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said “the country is going through an unspeakable tragedy”. He declared three days of national mourning to honour and remember the dead.

Several people have died, while hundreds are missing following a dam collapse in Laos. The collapse saw millions of tons of water flood into villages in the nation's south. State media is reporting the dam system broke down following monsoonal rains. Now, 6,600 people are homeless, while others have taken refuge on the roofs of houses, even as the flood waters threaten to engulf their homes altogether. Rescue services have been sent from the country's capital Vientiane to evacuate residents, however it is too soon to confirm death numbers.

People climb to safety on the roofs of their houses. Image: Reuters.

Israel has defended shooting down a Syrian fighter jet saying it will not tolerate any threat to its sovereignty. Israel shot down the jet after it flew two kilometres into its airspace and Syrian media is reporting the pilot died as a result. Syria has said it was conducting a move against 'terrorist forces' when it was struck. This interaction between Israel and Syria has sparked new fears that growing tensions between the two nations could lead to more conflict in the region.

Israel has defended shooting down a Syrian missile jet. Image: Reuters.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham has called for Bill Shorten to sack NSW backbencher Emma Husar amid accusations she bullied and harassed her former staff.  Husar announced on Tuesday she would take personal leave effective immediately after receiving threats of violence. She also said she needed to put her children first in a time that has been difficult for her entire family. Husar has agreed to assist with the investigation into her conduct.

Husar has taken personal leave. Image: Getty Images.

Residents are hoping to be allowed back to their homes after spending two nights in emergency accommodation after a crane became at risk of collapse in Melbourne. The crane was deemed unstable after wild winds in the Richmond area on Monday night that saw 80 residents evacuated. Authorities were unable to dismantle the crane until winds died down however, residents are hopeful they will be able to return to their homes on Wednesday if the crane is stabilised.

A manhunt is underway for nine prisoners who have escaped from Greenough Regional Prison on the outskirts of Geraldton in Western Australia. A total of 12 men are believed to have escaped on Tuesday afternoon, however three have already been recaptured by police. Western Australian police have urged people in the area to stay inside and lock all doors to their property as public safety is at risk. A large police operation is underway to find the remaining nine prisoners.

Stage 16 of the Tour de France was stopped in a dramatic fashion on Tuesday after riders were attacked with tear gas as part of a protest staged by local farmers. Farmers had thrown hay bales onto the road about 30 kilometres into the day's ride, forcing police to intervene and remove the obstacles. Police sprayed tear gas to attempt to stop the farmers who were protesting against cuts in European Union funding. Riders accidentally came into contact with the tear gas and many, including four-time Tour champion Chris Froome, required medical treatment for getting the gas in his eyes. No serious injuries were sustained and the was race stopped for about 15 minutes in total.

Image: Getty Images.

Mel B has provided fresh confirmation that a Spice Girls reunion is "definitely" happening. "For sure, we are getting back together," Scary Spice Melanie Brown told UK talk show Loose Women.  Brown said that all five members will be part of the reunion and that the band is likely to get back together later in 2018. The Spice Girls first confirmed they were going to reunite in February this year, but what they are working on together still remains a mystery.

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