SYDNEY -Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has apologised for causing “great anxiety” by going on holiday during a mounting wildfire crisis. Morrison cut short his trip to Hawaii as criticism of him increased. One person was found dead on Saturday, and wildfires are raging in three states. Since September, Australia’s bushfire emergency has killed at least nine people, destroyed more than 700 homes and scorched millions of hectares. Earlier, deputy prime minister Michael McCormack conceded that more had to be done to tackle global warming, after many Australians linked the severity of this year’s fires to climate change. “I get it that people would have been upset to know that I was holidaying with my family while their families were under great stress,” he said on Sunday. Speaking after a briefing with fire officials, he said he knew Australians were anxious about the fires but insisted that the emergency response was “the best in the world”. He conceded that climate change was contributing to changing weather patterns, but denied that it had directly caused Australia’s wildfires. “It’s not a credible suggestion to make that link,” he argued. Many Australians have accused Scott Morrison’s government of inaction on global warming, with criticism growing as a heatwave broke records across the country and worsened the fires. Although climate change is not the direct cause of bushfires, scientists have long warned that a hotter, drier climate would contribute to Australia’s fires becoming more frequent and intense.

Cyber-attack forces airline to cancel flights in Alaska

ALASKA (AGENCIES): RavnAircancelled at least a half-dozen flights in Alaska on Saturday — at the peak of holiday travel — following what the company described as “a malicious cyber-attack” on its computer network. The cancellations affected around 260 passengers, according to company spokeswoman Debbie Reinwand. The regional carrier canceled all flights involving its Dash 8 aircraft until noon “because the cyber-attack forced us to disconnect our Dash 8 maintenance system and its back-up,” the company said in a written statement. The airline serves more than 100 communities in Alaska, many of which are not accessible by road. The company is working with the FBI, other authorities and a cyber-security company to restore systems. RavnAir Alaska later announced that it will operate a normal afternoon schedule on its Dash-8 flights. “We will be trying to add flights where we can over the next two days,” the company said in a statement released at 1 p.m. “We have, where possible, re-booked passengers on other flights.” PenAir flights and RavnAir Connect flights were still operating normally on back-up systems, Reinwand said.