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British tourist collapses after getting 3 year sentence

Laura Plummer collapsed when she was sentenced for moving 290 Tramadol
'I thought I'd be f..

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  • Laura Plummer collapsed when she was sentenced for moving 290 Tramadol
  • 'I thought I'd be freed — I thought it was the end,' she sobbed in court
  • The shop worker was told she would soon be transferred to a jail 150 miles away

By Iain Burns and Gareth Davies and Alex Green For Mailonline

Published: 19:05 EST, 26 December 2017 | Updated: 19:47 EST, 26 December 2017

British tourist Laura Plummer collapsed in shock after hearing she had been given a three-year sentence in a hellish Egyptian prison for drug smuggling.

Thirty-three-year-old Laura fell to the floor after being handed the sentence by an Egyptian court yesterday over powerful painkillers found in her suitcase.

Stunned, the woman from Hull sobbed before slumping to the floor.

'I thought I'd be freed – I thought it was the end,' she sobbed.

Laura escaped the death penalty for transporting the opiate Tramadol in her luggage at the start of a holiday.

Shop worker Laura Plummer, 33, from Hull, was arrested after she was found to be carrying 290 Tramadol tablets in her suitcaseMs Plummer and Omar Caboo, her partnerMs Plummer and Omar Caboo, her partner

British tourist Laura Plummer (pictured left) collapsed in shock after hearing she had been given a three-year sentence in a hellish Egyptian prison for drug smuggling.

However, she was told she would still be locked up.

She said: 'Everyone was saying how strong my case was and that it was only a matter of time. How can this be happening?

'I can't do three years here, I'm so frightened, I haven't done anything wrong.'

Last night she was moved to a police holding cell next to the court in port town Safaga.

Later she was told she would be transferred to a jail 150 miles away in just a few days, told The Sun.

Shop worker Laura Plummer, 33, from Hull, was arrested after she was found to be carrying 290 Tramadol tablets in her suitcase, a painkiller which is legal in the UK but banned in Egypt.

Ms Plummer's family, who have described her as 'naive', said she was taking the tablets for her Egyptian partner Omar Caboo, who suffers from severe back pain.

But now a judge at a preliminary court has sentenced her to three years' imprisonment and ordered her to pay a fine of 100,000 Egyptian pounds (£4,205).

Speaking after the sentence, her visibly distraught mother, Roberta Sinclair, said: 'This is not fair. She's done it in all innocence'Speaking after the sentence, her visibly distraught mother, Roberta Sinclair, said: 'This is not fair. She's done it in all innocence'Pictured: Ms Plummer's mother after the sentencePictured: Ms Plummer's mother after the sentence

Stunned, the woman from Hull sobbed before slumping to the floor. 'I thought I'd be freed — I thought it was the end,' she sobbed. Speaking after the sentence, her visibly distraught mother, Roberta Synclair, said: 'This is not fair. She's done it in all innocence'

Mr Caboo was reportedly 'very sad' while Laura cried so heavily that her mother has to calm her down. Pictured: Mr Caboo (left) with Ms Plummer's mother (centre) at the court after the sentence Mr Caboo was reportedly 'very sad' while Laura cried so heavily that her mother has to calm her down. Pictured: Mr Caboo (left) with Ms Plummer's mother (centre) at the court after the sentence 

Mr Caboo was reportedly 'very sad' while Laura cried so heavily that her mother has to calm her down. Pictured: Mr Caboo (left) with Ms Plummer's mother (centre) at the court after the sentence

Mr Caboo (pictured) was described by witnesses at the court as being 'very sad' after the sentence was delivered, while Laura cried so heavily that her mother had to calm her downMr Caboo (pictured) was described by witnesses at the court as being 'very sad' after the sentence was delivered, while Laura cried so heavily that her mother had to calm her down

Mr Caboo (pictured) was described by witnesses at the court as being 'very sad' after the sentence was delivered, while Laura cried so heavily that her mother had to calm her down

'If she ever makes it out of there, I will be amazed,' Ms Plummer's sister Jayne Synclair told the Mirror.

'She will probably be dead if she has to stay in there for three years.'

The 40-year-old added: 'She is not the strongest person – she's already having a nervous breakdown and is being kicked and punched in the holding prison.'

Yesterday, her lawyer said Ms Plummer had 'accidentally' confessed in front of a judge after reportedly misunderstanding a question.

Ms Plummer's family previously claimed she was suicidal after sharing a 15ft square cell with 25 women inmates.

It has also been claimed that staff at the jail – which is on the outskirts of the city of Hurgharda – have shown little sympathy for what the Egyptian media are calling the 'Tramadol Tourist'.

Mr Caboo was described by witnesses at the court as being 'very sad' after the sentence was delivered, while Laura cried so heavily that her mother had to calm her down.

Laura Plummer (pictured), 33, has been sentenced to three years in prisonLaura Plummer (pictured), 33, has been sentenced to three years in prison

Laura Plummer (pictured), 33, has been sentenced to three years in prison

Speaking after the sentence, her visibly distraught mother, Roberta Synclair, said: 'This is not fair. She's done it in all innocence.

'She brought [the drugs] to help someone, to help a family.'

She added: 'She's the kindest person… I was worried about her before, [when she was] in the police station. I'm even more worried now she's in actual prison with real criminals.

'I feel sick – I'm so frightened for her.'

She has now been transferred to a police station, from which she will be sent to jail.

The sentence, however, can be changed as the case progresses through the Egyptian legal system.

It is expected to take a minimum of one month for the second stage of the case to begin.

The family said her lawyers lodged an immediate appeal.

Ms Plummer's sister, Rachel, said their mother Roberta was 'devastated' by the sentence.

Laura Plummer's current jail – and two prisons she could be sent to

Laura Plummer was arrested at Hurghada International Airport on October 9 when police discovered she was carrying Tramadol and Naproxen in her suitcase.

Since then, she has been held in a communal cell in Hurghada packed with 25 other women.

Her current cell is 15ft by 15ft, her family said, and – they claim – full of 'murderers, heroin addicts and prostitutes'.

Her sister Jayne Synclair told The Mirror she was being 'targeted' by other inmates because she is foreign.

Jayne said: 'To give you an idea of the place Laura is staying in – this woman [a woman alleged to be caring for Laura] is locked up for slitting her best friend's throat.'

She added: 'She's a target in there because she's a foreigner.

'She was being kicked and kicked until apparently the cell leader started watching her.'

Al Jazeera, which is based in nearby Qatar, also published a more general story about the state of Egyptian prisons in 2014. Toilets were a hole in the ground with a curtain for privacyAl Jazeera, which is based in nearby Qatar, also published a more general story about the state of Egyptian prisons in 2014. Toilets were a hole in the ground with a curtain for privacy

Al Jazeera, which is based in nearby Qatar, also published a more general story about the state of Egyptian prisons in 2014. Toilets were a hole in the ground with a curtain for privacy

In shocking videos leaked to the TV channel, jails in the country were shown to be cramped and dirtyIn shocking videos leaked to the TV channel, jails in the country were shown to be cramped and dirty

In shocking videos leaked to the TV channel, jails in the country were shown to be cramped and dirty

Al-Monitor , meanwhile, has reported that female prisoners in Egypt face regular sexual harassment and abuse by guards at jails. Pictured: A grab from a video obtained by Al Jazeera Al-Monitor , meanwhile, has reported that female prisoners in Egypt face regular sexual harassment and abuse by guards at jails. Pictured: A grab from a video obtained by Al Jazeera 

Al-Monitor , meanwhile, has reported that female prisoners in Egypt face regular sexual harassment and abuse by guards at jails. Pictured: A grab from a video obtained by Al Jazeera

Prisons in Egypt have been repeatedly exposed as hellishly filthy. Pictured: The windows at one prison Prisons in Egypt have been repeatedly exposed as hellishly filthy. Pictured: The windows at one prison 

Prisons in Egypt have been repeatedly exposed as hellishly filthy. Pictured: The windows at one prison

Jayne has also said Ms Plummer has threatened to kill herself because of the 'repulsive' conditions in the prison, which has no toilet or air conditioning.

She reportedly relieves herself in a hole in the ground.

Either today or tomorrow, she will be sent to either Qena prison.

Prisons in Egypt have been repeatedly exposed as hellishly filthy.

Al Jazeera interviewed an inmate from al-Qanater prison – which is used for both political prisoners and for regular criminals – who said it was 'full of cockroaches' and 'disgusting'.

She said everything was dirty and she regularly felt intimidated by other prisoners.

Pictured: Al-Qanater prison, where Ms Plummer could be sent by the Egyptian court Pictured: Al-Qanater prison, where Ms Plummer could be sent by the Egyptian court 

Pictured: Al-Qanater prison, where Ms Plummer could be sent by the Egyptian court

Esraa el-Taweel told the broadcaster: 'The prison is scary and horrible. A different world – some [prisoners] are caught for using drugs, some for being prostitutes, some for pickpocketing, and others for stealing public funds.

'I have seen strange people and heard very strange stories. This cell is disgusting, full of cockroaches. Everything here is disgusting and life here is very difficult.'

Al Jazeera, which is based in nearby Qatar, also published a more general story about the state of Egyptian prisons in 2014.

In shocking videos leaked to the TV channel, jails in the country were shown to be cramped and dirty.

Toilets were a hole in the ground with a curtain for privacy.

Al-Monitor, meanwhile, has reported that female prisoners in Egypt face regular sexual harassment and abuse by guards at jails.

She said the family was trying to find out more details about what happened in the courtroom today.

She said: 'My mum's obviously devastated. She's out there by herself.' She added that she did not know whether the appeal would be heard today.

She said: 'We're just hoping. Even half of that would be better. Anything less than three years. She doesn't deserve that.'

Ms Plummer's MP Karl Turner said the ruling had come as a devastating blow to her family but he was hopeful that good sense would eventually prevail.

Miss Plummer, left, could face 25 years in prison with no parole, life imprisonment or even the death penaltyMiss Plummer, left, could face 25 years in prison with no parole, life imprisonment or even the death penalty

Miss Plummer, left, could face 25 years in prison with no parole, life imprisonment or even the death penalty

He said her case had been raised with the Egyptian authorities by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and the Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt.

'I am hopeful that good sense will eventually prevail,' he told BBC Radio 4's The World At One.

'This is a damning indictment actually of the Egyptian authorities in the sense that good sense and fairness certainly hasn't prevailed in this case.

'This is a decent woman who has made a terrible mistake who shouldn't be incarcerated in any prison, never mind an Egyptian prison.'

Neville Plummer, Laura's father, said his daughter is 'on the verge of a breakdown' after the sentencing.

'The family are all absolutely devastated for Laura. It has been very distressing for everyone involved, but we have got to stay strong for Laura,' he said.

'The last time I spoke to Laura was two days after she was arrested.. To be honest, I think she was sentenced on the day she was arrested.

A judge at a preliminary court has sentenced Ms Plummer (pictured) to three years' imprisonment and ordered her to pay a fine of 100,000 Egyptian pounds (£4,205)A judge at a preliminary court has sentenced Ms Plummer (pictured) to three years' imprisonment and ordered her to pay a fine of 100,000 Egyptian pounds (£4,205)

A judge at a preliminary court has sentenced Ms Plummer (pictured) to three years' imprisonment and ordered her to pay a fine of 100,000 Egyptian pounds (£4,205)

'This has been drawn out and dragged on and on, and in a way a line has now been drawn in the sand and things can only get better.'

'We have now got to stay positive for Laura,' Mr Plummer said.

'I will leave no stone unturned, and will let no money stand in the way of getting her the justice she needs.

'She pleaded guilty to the trafficking when she did not even mean to plead guilty that is not justice, that is an injustice.

'I will never give up with the help. It is a very sad day for the family, at what should be a happy time of the year.'

Mr Plummer praised the work of the lawyers and legal teams who had represented Laura during the hearing.

He also said Hull East MP Karl Turner had been very supportive of Laura, and was continuing in his work to help the Hull woman.

Mr Turner said: 'I am hopeful that good sense will eventually prevail.

'This is a damning indictment actually of the Egyptian authorities in the sense that good sense and fairness certainly hasn't prevailed in this case.

'This is a decent woman who has made a terrible mistake who shouldn't be incarcerated in any prison, never mind an Egyptian prison.'

Yesterday her lawyer said she had 'accidentally' pleaded guilty during a hearing.

Her mother Roberta Synclair travelled to Egypt for the Christmas Day hearing.

Her lawyer Dia al-Bassal said Ms Plummer was asked yesterday: 'You are accused of smuggling and possessing Tramadol to Egypt?'

She then replied 'yes', with the judge ensuring the clerk recorded she had 'confessed' to the crime.

But when her translator explained what the question was, she denied being guilty of the charge.

Mr Bassal told The Telegraph: 'She meant that she is admitting that she had the Tramadol, but not admitting of being guilty.

'The judge jumped to the conclusion that she confesses before clarifying that she understood the question and this is worrying.'

Ms Plummer then reportedly wept in frustration, stressing 'it's not fair'.

Laura PlummerLaura PlummerThe case revolves around 290 Tramadol Miss Plummer took with her to Egypt for her lover Omar Caboo (pictured), 33, who suffers from back painThe case revolves around 290 Tramadol Miss Plummer took with her to Egypt for her lover Omar Caboo (pictured), 33, who suffers from back pain

The case revolves around 290 Tramadol Miss Plummer (left) took with her to Egypt for her lover Omar Caboo (right), 33, who suffers from back pain

Her lawyer will submit an explanation today emphasising that she meant to say she had the drug with her but did not intend to sell it.

Her sister Rachel Plummer said the judge adjourned the case for a day because of Laura's condition.

She said: 'She's sleep deprived, she's visibly nervous and upset.

'She's answered some questions wrong because she's not understanding them, she obviously can't think straight.

'You can imagine the pressure – this is her life.'

She said their mother and Mr Caboo were denied access to the hearing as their driver took them to court late.

MP Karl Turner told Sky News yesterday's hearing was adjourned so that Ms Plummer could find another interpreter.

He said: 'Apparently something was lost in translation, the defence lawyer wasn't confident that Laura was understanding the questions first of all, and the interpreter wasn't correctly translating what Laura was saying in her answers.'

Mr Turner said: 'The evidence is pretty clear that she didn't know the drug was banned and she was taking it out there to help her boyfriend, who has come up with the evidence that he does suffer from a severe back problem.'

The Plummer family has previously said she had no idea that what she doing was illegal and was just 'daft'.

Prison visit: The family of a British woman facing the death penalty in Egypt on drug smuggling charges today paid her an emotional visit in prisonPrison visit: The family of a British woman facing the death penalty in Egypt on drug smuggling charges today paid her an emotional visit in prison

Prison visit: The family of a British woman facing the death penalty in Egypt on drug smuggling charges today paid her an emotional visit in prison

They said she did not try to hide the medicine, which she had been given by a friend, and she thought it was a joke when she was pulled over by officials after arriving for a holiday with her partner.

Mrs Synclair said her daughter was being held in terrible conditions in a communal cell with no beds, sharing with up to 25 other women.

She said she looked 'unrecognisable'.

Ms Plummer is being held in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada, where she was arrested at the airport on October 9.

Her family has been told that she could face up to 25 years in jail, with one lawyer even mentioning the death penalty.

Yesterday her lawyer claimed the price of her plane ticket could set her free.

Mohamed Othman said that a plane ticket shows she did not intend to sell the 290 Tramadol tablets found in her suitcase because she paid twice as much for her flight as the drugs are worth.

Othman called the plane ticket a 'key piece of evidence'.

He told The Sun: 'For someone to be found guilty of drug smuggling they have to be aware that they are possessing narcotics. Laura did not know that what she was carrying was a narcotic.

'It is illogical that she was dealing in Tramadol.She had only 320 pills – even the plane ticket is almost double the price of those pills.'

Plummer wept in court as she appeared in front of a judge on Christmas Day.

Christmas Day is a normal working day in the Islamic country, and the shop assistant from Hull appeared in the dock handcuffed.

Miss Plummer's mother Roberta Synclair and Mr Caboo arrived late to the courtroom and stood outside.

Mr Caboo, speaking outside of court, was convinced Miss Plummer would be freed.

He told MailOnline: 'I am sure Laura is innocent. She did not bring the Tramadol for selling or trading.

'I am sure she will be freed. She did not intend to do smuggle or trade.'

When Miss Plummer was arrested on October 9, she signed a 38-page document written in Arabic as she thought it would grant her freedom.

It led to her being locked up and she has already spent ten weeks in prison sharing a 15ft square cell with 25 women inmates.

Last month, her mother Roberta Synclair said: 'She did not realise what she was doing'.

She said Ms Plummer made no attempt to hide the medicine, which she had been given by a friend, and she thought it was a joke when she was first pulled over by officials when she flew into the country for a holiday with Mr Caboo.

Laura Plummer, left, is being held by Egyptian authorities after taking Tramadol into the countryLaura Plummer, left, is being held by Egyptian authorities after taking Tramadol into the country

Laura Plummer, left, is being held by Egyptian authorities after taking Tramadol into the country

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Australia

Sydney seaplane crash: Exhaust fumes affected pilot, report confirms

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The pilot of a seaplane that crashed into an Australian river, killing all on board, had been left confused and disorientated by leaking exhaust fumes, investigators have confirmed.

The Canadian pilot and five members of a British family died in the crash north of Sydney in December 2017.

All were found to have higher than normal levels of carbon monoxide in their blood, a final report has found.

It recommended the mandatory fitting of gas detectors in all such planes.

British businessman Richard Cousins, 58, died alongside his 48-year-old fiancée, magazine editor Emma Bowden, her 11-year-old daughter Heather and his sons, Edward, 23, and William, 25, and pilot Gareth Morgan, 44. Mr Cousins was the chief executive of catering giant Compass.

The family had been on a sightseeing flight in the de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver plane when it nose-dived into the Hawkesbury River at Jerusalem Bay, about 50km (30 miles) from the city centre.

The final report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) confirmed the findings of an interim report published in 2020.

It said pre-existing cracks in the exhaust collector ring were believed to have released exhaust gas into the engine bay. Holes left by missing bolts in a firewall then allowed the fumes to enter the cabin.

“As a result, the pilot would have almost certainly experienced effects such as confusion, visual disturbance and disorientation,” the report said.

“Consequently, it was likely that this significantly degraded the pilot’s ability to safely operate the aircraft.”

The ATSB recommended the Civil Aviation Safety Authority consider mandating the fitting of carbon monoxide detectors in piston-engine aircraft that carry passengers.

It previously issued safety advisory notices to owners and operators of such aircraft that they install detectors “with an active warning” to pilots”. Operators and maintainers of planes were also advised to carry out detailed inspections of exhaust systems and firewalls.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55862128

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Australia

Australia unlikely to fully reopen border in 2021, says top official

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Australia is unlikely to fully open its borders in 2021 even if most of its population gets vaccinated this year as planned, says a senior health official.

The comments dampen hopes raised by airlines that travel to and from the country could resume as early as July.

Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy made the prediction after being asked about the coronavirus’ escalation in other nations.

Dr Murphy spearheaded Australia’s early action to close its borders last March.

“I think that we’ll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Monday.

“Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus,” he said, adding that he believed quarantine requirements for travellers would continue “for some time”.

Citizens, permanent residents and those with exemptions are allowed to enter Australia if they complete a 14-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.

Qantas – Australia’s national carrier – reopened bookings earlier this month, after saying it expected international travel to “begin to restart from July 2021.”

However, it added this depended on the Australian government’s deciding to reopen borders.

Australia’s tight restrictions

The country opened a travel bubble with neighbouring New Zealand late last year, but currently it only operates one-way with inbound flights to Australia.

Australia has also discussed the option of travel bubbles with other low-risk places such as Taiwan, Japan and Singapore.

A vaccination scheme is due to begin in Australia in late February. Local authorities have resisted calls to speed up the process, giving more time for regulatory approvals.

Australia has so far reported 909 deaths and about 22,000 cases, far fewer than many nations. It reported zero locally transmitted infections on Monday.

Experts have attributed much of Australia’s success to its swift border lockdown – which affected travellers from China as early as February – and a hotel quarantine system for people entering the country.

Local outbreaks have been caused by hotel quarantine breaches, including a second wave in Melbourne. The city’s residents endured a stringent four-month lockdown last year to successfully suppress the virus.

Other outbreaks – including one in Sydney which has infected about 200 people – prompted internal border closures between states, and other restrictions around Christmas time.

The state of Victoria said on Monday it would again allow entry to Sydney residents outside of designated “hotspots”, following a decline in cases.

While the measures have been praised, many have also criticised them for separating families across state borders and damaging businesses.

Dr Murphy said overall Australia’s virus response had been “pretty good” but he believed the nation could have introduced face masks earlier and improved its protections in aged care homes.

In recent days, Australia has granted entry to about 1,200 tennis players, staff and officials for the Australian Open. The contingent – which has recorded at least nine infections – is under quarantine.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55699581

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Australia

Covid: Brisbane to enter three-day lockdown over single infection

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The Australian city of Brisbane has begun a snap three-day lockdown after a cleaner in its hotel quarantine system became infected with coronavirus.

Health officials said the cleaner had the highly transmissible UK variant and they were afraid it could spread.

Brisbane has seen very few cases of the virus beyond quarantined travellers since Australia’s first wave last year.

It is the first known instance of this variant entering the Australian community outside of hotel quarantine.

The lockdown is for five populous council areas in Queensland’s state capital.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the measure on Friday morning local time, about 16 hours after the woman tested positive.

Ms Palaszczuk said the lockdown aimed to halt the virus as rapidly as possible, adding: “Doing three days now could avoid doing 30 days in the future.”

“I think everybody in Queensland… knows what we are seeing in the UK and other places around the world is high rates of infection from this particular strain,” she said.

“And we do not want to see that happening here in our great state.”

Australia has reported 28,500 coronavirus infections and 909 deaths since the pandemic began. By contrast, the US, which is the hardest-hit country, has recorded more than 21 million infections while nearly 362,000 people have died of the disease.The lockdown will begin at 18:00 on Friday (08:00 GMT) in the Brisbane city, Logan and the Ipswich, Moreton and Redlands local government areas.

Residents will only be allowed to leave home for certain reasons, such as buying essential items and seeking medical care.

For the first time, residents in those areas will also be required to wear masks outside of their homes.

Australia has faced sporadic outbreaks over the past year, with the most severe one in Melbourne triggering a lockdown for almost four months.

A pre-Christmas outbreak in Sydney caused fresh alarm, but aggressive testing and contact-tracing has kept infection numbers low. The city recorded four local cases on Friday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has pledged to start mass vaccinations in February instead of March as was planned.

Lockdown interrupts ‘near normal’ life in Brisbane

Simon Atkinson, BBC News in Brisbane

At 8:00 today I popped to the local supermarket for some bread, milk – and because it’s summer here – a mango. I was pretty much the only customer.

When I went past the same shop a couple of hours later it was a different story – 50 people standing in the drizzle – queuing to get inside as others emerged with bulging shopping bags. “Heaps busier than Christmas,” a cheery trolley attendant told me. “It’s off the scale”.

Despite the “don’t panic” messages from authorities, pictures on social media show it’s a pattern being repeated across the city.

While shutdowns are common around the world, the tough and sudden stay-at-home order for Brisbane has caught people on the hop here after months of near normality.

But while such a rapid, hard lockdown off the back of just a single case of Covid-19 will seem crazy in some parts of the world, I’ve not come across too many people complaining.

And I don’t think that’s just because Aussies love to follow a rule. This is the first time the UK variant of the virus has been detected in the community in Australia.

And nobody here wants Brisbane to go through what Melbourne suffered last year. Even if it means going without mangoes.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55582836

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