Brekky Wrap: Six Dead After Sinkhole Swallows Bus In City Centre

All the news you need to know this Wednesday.

A sinkhole has swallowed a bus in north-western China, killing at least six and leaving another 16 injured.

About 1,000 emergency workers and 30 vehicles were sent to the site in Xining, according to the city's emergency management bureau.

A crane was called in to lift the bus out of the sinkhole so rescue workers could search for victims. Video footage shot by security cameras just after the accident shows the bus gradually settling into the hole while people nearby scrambled to safety.

Image: Getty

Light and smoke were coming to the surface, possibly as a result of the rupture of gas or electricity lines. Workers using backhoes, dump trucks, and other equipment excavated the earth around the collapse.

It is understood several other people may be missing.Hazardous air quality from bushfire smoke is forecast to improve this afternoon as rain and thunderstorms sweep through Victoria and NSW.

Although hazardous air quality alerts will be in place until at least Wednesday evening for the smoke currently blanketing central and eastern Victoria.

Victoria recorded the worst air quality in the world on Tuesday, as smoke from East Gippsland fires spread across the state and authorities alerted vulnerable groups to stay indoors.

Rain and cooler weather expected to hit the state on Wednesday afternoon will help disperse the bushfire smoke, improving the air quality forecast for Thursday to a moderate rating.

The Bureau of Meteorology said cooler conditions will remain for Victoria until the weekend, with maximum temperatures in the low 20s.

Similarly in NSW, bushfire ravaged communities are preparing for heavy rainfalls that authorities fear could cause slips and flooding in some parts of the state.

Rainfall of between 30 and 80mm are forecast from Thursday, with strong falls possible for fire grounds in the Snowy Mountains, southwest of Sydney and South Coast regions.

Firefighters have welcomed the forecast as the best news in months but the Bureau of Meteorology said the rain could be a "double-edged sword".

"Hopefully some of this heavy rainfall will fall over fire sites and help control or even extinguish fires," meteorologist Sarah Scully said on Tuesday.



Heavy Rain Coming For Fire Grounds But Could Trigger Flash Flooding, Landslides

The promise of much-needed rain for fire-ravaged parts of the nation's southeast has triggered warnings about the potential of flooding and water quality issues.

Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman has stepped down, saying "the time is right" for new leadership two years out from the next state poll.

The outgoing  Premier says he has zero regrets from his six years in the state's top job as the focus turns to who will replace him.

Mr Hodgman cited his desire to spend more time with his family after nearly 18 years in politics.

"There are times when you wake up and read the paper or see what's in the news and wonder 'why am I doing this?'," he said.

"But I've always loved it and embraced the challenges."

Mr Hodgman, first elected as a state member in 2002, was appointed leader of the state Liberals in 2006.

The state Liberals are expected to meet next week to decide who will become Tasmania's 46th premier.

The price of vegetables could rise by 50 per cent due to the bushfire crisis and ongoing drought. 

The ABC reports that the vegetable industry's peak body AUSVEG made the prediction with the company's chief executive James Whiteside suggesting Queensland could expect to cop the brunt of the rise because a lot of the state's produce is sourced from Victoria and NSW.

Products are being re-routed due to freeway closures resulting in added time and money.

Fruit and vegetable prices are predicted to soar. Image: Getty.

"That's (re-routing) certainly having an impact on what you're seeing on the supermarket shelves in the northern half of Australia."

He expects the prices of almost everything to rise, from cauliflower to broccoli and spinach.

Mr Whiteside added price rises will vary depending on the product and where it's coming from but he "wouldn't be surprised" to see prices climbing between 20 and 50 per cent.

An animal rescue group wants to urgently foster eight emaciated horses found in a Queensland paddock alongside 22 other dead horses.

Marjorie Pagani, of Australian Farm Animal Rescue Matters, extended the helping hand after going to authorities about the property in the Gowrie Mountain area, in Toowoomba west of Brisbane.

It was there Biosecurity Queensland inspectors and vets made the grisly discovery. They found 22 carcasses rotting into the ground in a barren paddock, surrounded by the bones of others.



Mass Death Of Horses In QLD Paddock 'Beyond Comprehension'

The death of more than 20 horses and the discovery of eight emaciated animals on a Queensland property is "beyond comprehension" according to an animal rescue group that has offered to foster the animals.

Some of them were believed to be ex-racehorses.

Ms Pagani says they are on the brink of death and in urgent need of treatment. She also how long it took for authorities to respond to concerns and visit the property.

However, Chief Biosecurity Officer Malcolm Letts said inspectors were there within 48 hours of the complaints being made about the "distressing" state of the animals.

At least 59 people have been killed and many more are missing following avalanches in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir,  senior government officials confirmed.

In neighbouring India, at least 10 people were killed after several avalanches hit the northern-part of Indian-administered Kashmir.

Two Pakistani officials said many villagers were still stranded by the avalanches in the Neelum Valley area following heavy rain that also triggered landslides. Many people were reported missing and feared dead as rescue efforts got underway.

Residents watch as authorities help move snow boulders in the Neelum Valley. Image: Reuters

Rescuers managed to extract more than 50 people from the snow and airlifted them out of the area for treatment while authorities also scrambled to provide relief to local people with another spell of heavy snow expected on Friday.

Additionally, at least 53 houses had been completely destroyed by avalanches in the Pakistani administered region known as Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

Poor air quality from the bushfires forced officials to delay qualifying matches at the Australian Open yesterday with Solvenia's Dalila Jakupovic forfeiting her match after collapsing during a coughing fit.

She later said she had no prior breathing issues and had never suffered from asthma.

Organisers faced a storm of criticism for plowing ahead with matches despite bushfire smoke plunging Melbourne’s air quality to “hazardous” levels.

Slovenia’s Dalila Jakupovic was leading Stefanie Vogele 6-4 5-6 at Melbourne Park when she slumped to her knees at the back of the blue hardcourt suffering breathing difficulties.

Jakupovic, 28, told CNN it was "very hard for me to breathe for the whole match. After 20 minutes I already had difficulties."

The tennis pro added a physio gave her a breathing apparatus which actually made her feel worse. When she failed to stand up properly, she began to panic.

"After that, I had a panic attack because I couldn't get air. It was very hard, I have to say. It was one of my hardest matches," she said.

The pollution prompted warnings from Victoria's environment watchdog for people to stay indoors, bring pets inside and shut windows.