Queensland records one new case of coronavirus in hotel quarantine and one historical case from previous cluster


“We’re now accelerating the rollout of Pfizer across the state,” Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said on Monday.

“The biggest issue is supply,” Dr Young said.

It comes after Australia’s medical experts changed their official advice last Thursday, recommending against the use of the AstraZeneca jab for people under the age of 50 over concerns about the risk of causing a rare blood-clotting disease.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said Queensland Health is still trying to find ways to distribute the Pfizer vaccine — which requires refrigeration at low temperatures — to parts of the state that don’t have vaccine hubs.

“We need to train up our staff to learn how to handle the Pfizer vaccine,” Ms D’Ath said.

While Dr Young said the Pfizer vaccine’s storage and administration requirements differed to those of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

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Attorney-General Christian Porter identifies himself as the Cabinet minister at centre of historical rape allegation, denies claims


Attorney-General Christian Porter has identified himself as the Cabinet minister at the centre of an historical rape allegation and strongly denied the claims.

Mr Porter said he will not be standing down as attorney-general in the wake of the allegation. 

He will instead be taking a short period of leave to improve his mental health. 

Attorney-General Christian Porter identified himself as the Cabinet minister accused of an historical rape.
Attorney-General Christian Porter identified himself as the Cabinet minister accused of an historical rape. (Getty)

“I can say what has been put forward in allegations simply did not happen,” Mr Porter said at a media conference in Perth this afternoon.

Mr Porter said standing down would set a precedent for anyone in Australia who has accusations presented to them. 

“If I stand down from my position as attorney-general because of an allegation about something that simply did not happen, then any person in Australia can lose their career, their job, their life’s work based on nothing more than an accusation that appears in print,” Mr Porter said.

“If that happens, anyone in public life is able to be removed simply by the printing of an allegation.  

“Every child we raise can have their lives destroyed by online reporting of accusations alone.” 

Michaelia Cash will take over Mr Porter’s duties as attorney-general and industrial relations minister.

Christian Porter strongly denied the allegations and said he would not be standing down from Cabinet, but would take leave.
Christian Porter strongly denied the allegations and said he would not be standing down from Cabinet, but would take leave. (Getty)

The allegation dates back to 1988 when the woman was 16 and before Mr Porter entered politics.

A document outlining the woman’s claims was circulated to several politicians, including the office of Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Police said in a statement it had sought legal advice about the case which determined there was “insufficient admissible evidence to proceed”.

The woman who made the allegation first went to police in Adelaide in November 2019 and the matter was referred to NSW Police in February last year.

The woman took her own life in June.

Mr Porter said he had not had contact with the complainant involved in the allegations since they last spoke in 1988. 

He said he had never seen the statement from the complainant which detailed the allegations nor had any formal or substantive detail presented to him.

Mr Porter was emotional during the press conference and said he would seek treatment for his mental health. (Getty)

The attorney-general said he first heard of rumours around November last year, but nothing formal was presented to him. 

He said no journalist had presented the allegation to him in a way that allowed for a response. 

“None of the senior politicians or ex-politicians that have known about these allegations and rumours put them to me,” Mr Porter said.  

“No journalist has put the detail of the allegations to me in a way that would allow seeking a response, not ever.

“All I know about the allegations is what I have read in the media.” 

Attorney-General Christian Porter in parliament last week.
Attorney-General Christian Porter in parliament last week. (Alex Ellinghausen/Sydney Morning Herald)

Mr Porter opened his media conference by addressing the parents of the woman who made the allegation.

“You did not deserve the frenzied circumstances of this past week,” Mr Porter said. 

“I hope you can understand that.” 

Earlier today, the woman’s family released a statement requesting privacy.

“The family of the deceased do not wish to make any comment in relation to this matter as they continue to experience considerable grief arising from this loss,” a statement released through lawyer Shona Hoskins read.

“They request that their privacy be respected during this difficult time.”

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Australian attorney-general denies historical rape allegation


CANBERRA, March 3 (Xinhua) — Australia’s Attorney-General (AG) Christian Porter has identified himself as the government minister facing a historical rape allegation and fronted the media on Wednesday to deny the allegation.

The allegation came to light at the end of February in an anonymous letter sent to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and members of the Greens and Labor parties.

The letter included detailed allegations that Porter raped a 16-year-old girl in Sydney in 1988 – about 20 years before he entered politics in Western Australia and 25 years before he entered federal Parliament – at which time he was 17.

Porter said that it “simply did not happen.”

“Nothing in the allegations that have been printed ever happened,” he said on Wednesday.

“Because what is being alleged did not happen, I must say so publicly.”

The alleged victim contacted New South Wales (NSW) Police in 2019 but took her own life in 2020.

On Tuesday NSW Police said there was “insufficient admissible evidence” to investigate the allegations and it was closed.

Porter said he would not stand down as AG but would take a “short period of leave” to improve his mental health.

Porter’s press conference on Wednesday came days after former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who said he learned of the allegations in 2019, publicly urged the minister accused of rape to “front up” to the allegations.

The government is facing increasing pressure to establish an independent inquiry into the allegations.

Porter on Wednesday apologized to his ministerial colleagues who have been the target of “allegations and speculation.”

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Federal MPs Daniel Mulino and Celia Hammond reveal they were aware of historical rape allegation against Cabinet Minister who was named in anonymous letter


Two more federal MPs — one Liberal and one Labor — have revealed they were aware of a historical rape allegation made against a Cabinet Minister before it became public last Friday.

Labor MP Daniel Mulino told the ABC he was contacted by the alleged victim in December 2019. She was Dr Mulino’s friend.

“She indicated to me that she was determined to proceed with a formal complaint and I supported her in that decision,” he said.

“I ensured that the complainant was receiving appropriate support. I am greatly saddened by the death of my friend. I know that this has been a devastating period for the woman’s family and close friends. My thoughts are with them.”

Dr Mulino said he had told the Australian Federal Police (AFP), NSW Police and South Australian Police he was willing to assist with any investigation.

Labor senator Penny Wong and former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull were also contacted late in 2019 by the woman.

Neither spoke to police at the time because the alleged victim made it clear she was already speaking to police.

The woman went to New South Wales Police in 2020 but the investigation was suspended when she took her own life on June 24, 2020. The day before, she had told police she no longer wanted to proceed with the investigation.

South Australian Police are preparing a report into her death for the coroner.

Allegation aired following letter

A 31-page dossier outlining the allegation was sent by express post to the offices of the Prime Minister, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and Senator Wong on Wednesday.

The ABC understands the AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw also received the correspondence but by email earlier that day.

The ABC has confirmed that Celia Hammond, a WA Liberal MP, was also sent the 31-page dossier.

This is presumably because she had been asked by the Prime Minister to lead an inquiry into the Liberal Party’s workplace culture, only for it to be rolled into a broader independent investigation.

“I received a copy of the correspondence on Wednesday,” Ms Hammond told the ABC.

“I gave it to the Australian Federal Police on Wednesday afternoon and I alerted the Prime Minister’s Office.”

The Prime Minister’s Office has not responded to questions about when it alerted the police about the letter, but a statement from a spokesman said reporting to the police ensured that any alleged crimes were properly investigated.

“As per the AFP Commissioner’s instruction, any complaints or allegations of this nature made to anybody — whether they’re parliamentarians or journalists — should be referred to the AFP,” the spokesman said.

Senator Hanson-Young and Senator Wong did not open the envelope until Friday morning.

AFP sent another letter containing an allegation

Sarah henderson wears a red blazer and speaks to reporters in Canberra
Liberal senator Sarah Henderson says she has received a letter alleging a woman was raped by a male Labor member of Federal Parliament.(ABC News: Luke Stephenson)

An allegation of rape against another federal politician has also been sent to the AFP.

Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson and Senator Hanson-Young confirmed they both received an email from a woman, who alleges she was sexually assaulted by a man who is now a federal Labor MP.

In a statement, Senator Henderson said she sent the details to police.

“In immediately referring this matter to the AFP, I have followed the procedures set out by Commissioner Kershaw in his letter of 24 February 2021,” the statement said.

A Labor spokesperson said the appropriate action had been taken.

“The Australian Labor Party has seen media reports that Senator Henderson has received an allegation of sexual assault and has referred any relevant correspondence to authorities as is appropriate,” the spokesperson said.

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Scott Morrison, senators and AFP told of historical rape allegation against Cabinet Minister


Australian Federal Police have been notified of a letter sent to Prime Minister Scott Morrison detailing an alleged historical rape by a Cabinet Minister in the federal government.

The letter requests urgent action be taken by the Prime Minister to investigate the alleged rape, which occurred in 1988 before the accused man entered politics.

The matter has also been referred to the Australian Federal Police.

The letter was forwarded to AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw by Labor’s Leader in the Senate, Penny Wong, and Greens Senator Hanson-Young, who were also recipients of the letter.

Four Corners understands that Commissioner Kershaw has briefed South Australia Police and NSW Police.

The letter, shared with Four Corners by a friend of the complainant, attaches a detailed statement prepared by the complainant for her lawyer about the brutal rape she alleges took place.

NSW Police set up strike force

Last year, NSW Police set up a strike force with a view to commencing an investigation into the historical allegations about the Cabinet Minister after the woman came forward. 

Strike Force Wyndarra was established by police after she reported in Sydney in February 2020 to detectives from the NSW Police Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad that she had been raped by the man.

The woman had engaged a lawyer and told many friends about the allegation, but took her own life in June last year.

In a statement today to Four Corners, Ms Hanson-Young said: “This morning I received information regarding a disturbing and a very serious allegation of a criminal nature against a senior member of the government.

“Following the advice given to the Prime Minister by the AFP Commissioner this week, I have spoken with the Police Commissioner today, who is now taking steps in relation to this information.”

Senator Wong told Four Corners in a statement today that she had notified NSW, SA Police and the AFP, and would assist in any investigations.

“I have also written to the Prime Minister and Senator Hanson-Young to outline the steps I have taken, following receipt of this anonymous letter,” Senator Wong said.

“It is my hope that appropriate action is taken to examine the allegation.”

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement: “As per the AFP Commissioner’s instruction, any complaints or allegations of this nature made to anybody — whether they’re parliamentarians or journalists — should be referred to the AFP.

“As the AFP Commissioner outlined in advice to all parliamentarians on February 25, 2021, rereporting to the police is the way to ensure any alleged crimes are properly investigated.”

South Australia Police are investigating the circumstances of the woman’s death for the state coroner.

Four Corners has seen the woman’s statement and has spoken to many friends of the complainant whom she told about what she alleged took place and who knew her at the time of the alleged incident.

The letter urges the Prime Minister to set up an independent parliamentary investigation into the matter, similar to that commissioned by the High Court into allegations against former Justice, Dyson Heydon.

“When news of [the complainant’s alleged] rape becomes widely known to the public (as it most likely will), legitimate questions will be asked as to who knew what, when they knew and what they did,” the correspondent wrote.

“This is occurring today in relation to Brittany Higgins.

“In [the complainant’s] case, the loss of respect for our political institutions will be exacerbated by the aggravating factor of [the accused perpetrator’s seniority].

“There will be considerable damage to community perceptions of justice… and the parliament when this story becomes public if it is simultaneously revealed that senior people (like yourselves) were aware of the accusation but had done nothing…

“Failing to take parliamentary action because the NSW Police cannot take criminal action [due to the complainant’s death] would seem like wilful blindness.”

Wong, Turnbull also made aware of allegation

Senator Wong, who was made aware of limited detail surrounding the woman’s allegation last year by the complainant herself, contacted South Australia Police to offer her assistance in the coronial investigation when she discovered the complainant had died.

The woman had also written in 2019 to former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, and he too wrote to South Australia Police with his knowledge of the allegation upon learning of her death.

South Australia Police had originally referred the woman to their NSW counterparts because she alleged the incident occurred in Sydney. SA Police are currently preparing a report into the circumstances of her death for the state’s coroner, including her early release from a psychiatric institution in Melbourne.

The coroner will then determine whether to conduct a public inquest into her death.

The woman alleged the sexual assault took place in Sydney in 1988, long before the man’s political career commenced.

NSW Police provided a statement to the ABC about the case:

“In February [2020], NSW Police received a report of alleged historic sexual abuse. Inquiries were commenced by officers from the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad under Strike Force Wyndarra.”

COVID-19 outbreak delays investigation

Detectives from Strike Force Wyndarra were due to travel to Adelaide to take the woman’s formal statement in March 2020 but their trip was postponed after the COVID-19 outbreak erupted and state borders were closed.

Friends of the woman, who had years earlier been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, say her mental health deteriorated in the weeks before she took her life. She had made previous suicide attempts.

The NSW Police statement said: “On Wednesday 24 June 2020, the body of a 49-year-old woman was located at a home at Adelaide by South Australia Police (SA Pol).”

The day before she took her life, the woman informed NSW Police that she no longer wished to proceed with the investigation.

She would have turned 50 this week.

“NSW Police understand that reporting sexual assault can be distressing and traumatic for victims — and it (is) always the choice of an individual whether to proceed with an investigation or not,” the statement said.

‘This is my story, plain and simple’

The woman’s death means a criminal investigation into the politician can no longer proceed because the allegation cannot be tested.

The woman, who had been a brilliant and celebrated student at the time of the alleged incident, had prepared a long statement for her solicitor at the end of 2019.

“This is my story, plain and simple. It’s not pretty, but it is mine,” she wrote in the statement.

“And I stand by it, every single word and image in this document is true.”

In her statement, the woman alleged she had been anally raped by the man when she was aged 16.

“All I really want, in the end, is for this to have been reported to the NSW Police Force and to know that a copy of this document, and a transcript of any interview they might do with me, is in their archives…

“If this story does become public knowledge, I hope that it will encourage other women to come forward.

“Not for me, but for themselves… I also hope that other people who have endured similar traumas, should these facts become public knowledge, will feel less alone.”

The woman had told numerous friends who had become leaders in business, politics, the law and the arts and the ABC has spoken to many of them.

“She was caught on a jag, in a very specific era, around a very specific incident. That really seemed completely consuming and completely debilitating to her,” one friend told the ABC.

“She was consumed with a trauma which she told me, deeply and consistently, was as result of an assault that had occurred, early in 1988, and her life at that point was really devoted to exploring how she could get some kind of justice, accountability and peace from that.”

In the months before her death, the woman had attended a psychiatric clinic in Melbourne.

“There were many of us that were willing to support and help her carry that burden to the extent that we could. And ultimately, of course, we couldn’t do everything we hoped,” the friend said, crying.

Another friend, who had been helping the woman find rape support counselling and who has also come forward to NSW and South Australia Police to assist with their investigations, said the woman had been frustrated because COVID had delayed police from flying from Sydney to see her in Adelaide to carry out their investigations.

“[I feel] enormous sadness,” the friend said.

A third friend told the ABC it was “such a waste”.

“A beautiful, clever, young woman with so much potential has a life squandered and a life ended far too early,” he said.

In a statement, South Australia Police told the ABC that a full report into the woman’s death is being prepared for the coroner.

“It is not completed yet and there is no timeframe provided. SAPOL will not be making any further comment as this is a matter for the coroner.”

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Historical Ballina property to go under the hammer



A piece of Ballina’s history could be snapped up this weekend, if its auction is a success.

Heritage-listed, 135-year-old Fenwick House will be auctioned on site this Saturday.

Damien Smith from Ray White Byron Bay, who is marketing the property, has said they expect suitable buyers will be those with a “high net worth”.

The mansion, at 1/3 Brighton St, East Ballina, has 14 rooms across two storeys.

It last sold for $530,000 in 1993 and has been owned by the same family since then.

<< Ballina mansion will attract buyers of ‘high net worth’ >>

<< Here’s your chance to own a 135-year-old Ballina mansion >>

Mr Smith said he had high hopes for the auction.

“There’s interest around,” he said.

“I believe we’ll have bidders on the day.

“There’s been a lot of interest for a lot of different people.”

While he wouldn’t be drawn on the hopeful buyer’s potential uses for the site, Mr Smith said they were varied.

“It may well sell under the hammer on Saturday,” he said.

“It’s been a very good campaign.”

While COVID-19 restrictions mean there are still limits on gatherings, he said the spacious mansion would have no issues for social distancing.

“There’s plenty of space so social distancing can be adhered to,” he said.

“Obviously we’re in a good part of the world in regards to COVID cases, as in (we have) none.”

Anyone who has not yet registered for the auction but is interested in the property can still get in touch with Mr Smith on 0418 123 393 or April Nicolson on 0457 451 094.



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Carlton Blues say they are free from historical debt


Carlton CEO Cain Liddle said it had been a “unified club effort” to clear the debt.

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“To clear almost $7 million of debt in just three years is an incredible effort by our board, made even more incredible when you consider the challenges of 2020,” he said.

“It’s been a total unified club effort, by our board, our players, our staff, our members and our commercial partners and sponsors. A totally united club.

“We have now surpassed our all-time membership record of 67,035 (set in 2020), to achieve that this early in the season is almost unprecedented.

“We remain well on track to hit 80,000 members in 2021, which represents approximately 50 per cent growth in three years and keeps us on track to hit our ambitious strategic target of 100,000 members by 2023.”

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Former Marist College students sue Catholic Church over historical sexual abuse allegations



Four former students of a Catholic secondary school in Tasmania’s north-west are suing the church over historical sexual abuse allegations involving a former international cricket umpire convicted for sex offences two decades ago.

The women all attended the Marist Regional College in Burnie in the early 1980s, where Stephen “Steve” Grant Randell was employed as a teacher.

Randell was sentenced to four years in prison in 1999 on 15 charges of indecent assault against nine girls between 1981-1982. He served less than three years, being released on parole in May 2002.

Three of the four women who have launched legal action against the church were not part of the ’99 criminal proceedings.

Olivia* was and to her, this case means “peace”.

“Peace in knowing I can finally tell that 11-year-old little girl that she did nothing wrong,” she said. 

“I don’t think of the abuse consciously on a daily basis, but it is with me subconsciously every day, in my thoughts and actions.

She believes her decision “to sue the church directly” will force them to confront their past.

“[It] will make them realise that they cannot cover up the long-term effects abuse has on the survivors, their families and close friends,” she said.

“This civil case gives me a chance to have complete control in telling them of the pain they have inflicted on me for many years.”

And she hopes her case will encourage others to come forward.

“If from me sharing my story others can see that I am just an ordinary person, who has survived unimaginable things, then maybe they too will believe they have the courage to come forward,” she said.

More cases, involving other staff

Randell is one of five former staff members associated with the college to have been convicted of historical sex offences.

Senior associate at the Canberra-based law firm Porters Lawyers, Thomas Wallace-Pannell, is representing the four women.

But he said there are about 15 cases involving numerous staff members at the school currently before the Supreme Court of Tasmania — and he expects more survivors will come forward.

“At the moment, we’re only really scratching the surface.

“That’s why I think it’s very important that as many people come forward as possible, so as to cast light on exactly what was going on and the extent of what was occurring at the school in those particular years.”

He said while it was hard to put an exact number on how many people may launch legal action, the firm continues to receive enquiries.

Church ‘should have known’ of Randell’s ‘predatory sexual disposition’

The documents lodged in the Supreme Court in Tasmania earlier this year, relating to the four women, allege that the sexual assaults occurred between 1980 and 1983, while the women were in years 6 or 7.

The allegations range from the undoing of bras to digital rape.

One woman’s Statement of Claim alleges that:

“On a number of occasions in 1982, either before or after PE classes, Randell walked into the girls’ change rooms while girls (including the Plaintiff) were in a state of undress.”

And:

“Randell would routinely change his clothes in the classroom while students (including the Plaintiff) were present.”

All four women say that as a result of the sexual assaults by Randell, they have developed anxiety and depression and chronic dysthymia and other disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

They are claiming the Catholic Church was negligent in that it:

  • Failed to institute and maintain a system where students were encouraged to report abuse [including sexual abuse] and misconduct by teachers at the school
  • Failed to remove Randell from contact with school students
  • Allowed Randell to perform teaching and pastoral activities at the school when the Defendant knew or should have known of his predatory sexual disposition

The women are seeking damages for pain and suffering, interference with enjoyment of life, past and future economic and superannuation loss and out-of-pocket expenses for past medical treatment, future medical treatment and future psychological assistance.

Redress scheme ‘failing survivors’

The option to take civil action regarding historical sexual abuse allegations is new.

Previously, the statute of limitations prevented survivors from taking their abusers to court if the abuse occurred more than six years ago.

The abolition of limitation periods was a recommendation to come out of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, as was the redress scheme.

But Mr Wallace-Pannell said “the redress scheme was not doing what it was set up to do”.

“It appears that there are significant delays at the moment resulting in claims progressing through the redress scheme taking just as long as what it would take to proceed with a civil claim through the courts,” he said.

He said his firm also had “an issue with the cap [of $150,000] on the amount of money that would be available to victims who make a claim to the redress scheme”.

“Obviously, it’s much lower than what they would be entitled to in awarded damages should they proceed through a claim to the court,” he said.

Olivia also said the redress scheme wasn’t “good enough”.

“It does not support the victim and have their best interests as their number one priority. Unlike a civil case. The redress scheme is like a government cover-up,” she said.

Regardless of the outcome of her case, she says she has won the toughest battle.

In a statement, the Archdiocese of Hobart said the “claims of historical sexual abuse against the Church are taken extremely seriously … and it urges the reporting of abuse to police”.

“The claims by former students of Marist Regional College against the Catholic Church in Tasmania are headed for mediation on 2-3 February 2021,” the statement said.

The Archdiocese of Hobart said it had “signed up to the National Redress Scheme in December 2018”.

*Olivia’s name was changed for legal reasons



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Public servant stood down over historical sex abuse allegation



A state public servant from Tasmania’s north has been stood down pending an investigation into an historical sexual abuse allegation identified through the National Redress Scheme.

The redress scheme was set up in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The Tasmanian Government issued a statement late on Friday afternoon, saying the employee had been stood down earlier in the day.

The allegation has been referred to Tasmania Police for assessment.

No further details have been released.

The statement from the office of Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein said principles of natural justice and other legal considerations “demanded that further comment is not made whilst the investigation is underway”.

After a series of allegations were raised in state parliament, Mr Gutwein recently announced a commission of inquiry would begin next year, investigating allegations of child sex abuse in Tasmanian institutions.

It replaces three separate inquiries involving the health and education departments and the Ashley Youth Detention Centre.

An independent inquiry into child sexual abuse in government schools was announced in August.

Two months later, the government said there would also be an independent investigation into sexual abuse allegations involving James Geoffrey Griffin, a paediatric nurse at the Launceston General Hospital, who died last year.

Last month, it was revealed in Parliament that a worker accused of rape was among three staff stood down from Ashley Youth Detention Centre pending investigations into serious allegations.

The three inquiries will be covered by the commission of inquiry that will start next year and is expected to run for 12 months.



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21 Disturbing Historical Facts That I Kind Of Wish I Hadn’t Heard


It began with a single woman dancing solo for a few days, before eventually more and more people became affected. Doctors proclaimed that the illness was caused by overheated blood, and recommended that the inflicted should continue to shimmy and sway the fever away – musicians were even called in and a stage was set up in the town centre to give the ‘dancers’ more room. While the idea may seem funny at first, most of them kept dancing till they fell unconscious, and some died from exhaustion, heart attack, or stroke.



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