Lost plane finally found
An expedition has found what it believes to be remains of the first airplane brought to the frozen continent, on an icy shore near where it was abandoned almost a century ago. Australia has searched for many years for the single-propeller Vickers plane at Cape Denison, where the nation’s most famous polar explorer, Douglas Mawson, abandoned it during his 1911 to 1914 expedition. “Luck has been on our side,” said Tony Stewart, leader of the current expedition, after the discovery on New Year’s Day. Mawson’s dream of staging the first flight over the Antarctic ice cap was shattered even before his expedition sailed from Australia. The plane crashed in a demonstration flight weeks before Mawson was due to set sail, damaging the wings. With no time for repairs, he removed the wings and took the rest to use as a tractor to haul equipment across the ice. But even as a tractor it failed. Its engine seized up in the cold.
Train collisions injure 50
Four trains collided yesterday in two separate accidents caused by dense winter fog, killing five people and injuring about 50 others. The first accident took place about 270km southwest of Lucknow, when a train entering a station rammed another train that had stopped. Ten people were injured, a senior police official said. A second accident occurred about 100km southwest of Lucknow and left five people dead and 40 injured, some seriously, district magistrate Anil Sagar said. “Both these accidents were due to dense fog,” railway official N.K. Srivastava said. He said the trains were traveling at low speeds in both accidents.
Seventeen die in bus crash
At least 17 people were killed and 47 injured as a bus skidded off a road in dense fog early on Friday. Inspector Israfil Hawlader said the bus plunged into a narrow ditch on a fog-shrouded highway in Kanaipur, 120km southwest of Dhaka. “At least 17 passengers have died and another 47 were injured. The injured were rushed to local hospitals,” he said.
Workers killed in blast
Nine workers were killed and eight injured in an explosion at a fireworks factory, state-run media said yesterday. The blast happened on Friday at Xinping Firecrackers in Shaanxi Province, Xinhua news agency said, citing the local work safety bureau. Police launched a search for the factory boss, who fled after the explosion, Xinhua said. The country’s fireworks industry is notorious for lax safety standards.
Berlusconi sings love songs
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has returned to an old passion of his while recovering from last month’s attack at a rally: writing Neapolitan love songs, news reports said. Berlusconi also made his first public appearance since the Dec. 13 attack, going to a shopping mall close to his villa in Milan, Corriere della Sera and other newspapers said on Friday. The reports said the prime minister spent about two hours in the mall on Thursday afternoon before going back to his villa to host a New Year’s Eve dinner party.
Man seeks New Year’s arrest
A Sicilian man stole sweets and a packet of chewing gum so he could get arrested and spend New Year’s Eve in a jail cell rather than be with his wife and relatives, media reported on Friday. The 35-year-old Sicilian first showed up at a police station on Thursday asking to be arrested because he preferred spending the night in prison rather than with his family, but was rebuffed because he had not committed a crime, the Agi news agency said. The man immediately went to a tobacco shop next door, where he threatened the owner with a boxcutter as he grabbed a few sweets and a packet of gum. He then waited until police arrived to arrest him for robbery, the news agency said.
Spider causes ‘red’ eye
Here’s some advice stemming from the unusual case of a man who had spider hairs stuck in his cornea: Be sure to cover your eyes when hanging around with your pet tarantula. Ophthalmologists at St James’ University Hospital in Leeds used high-magnification lenses to find out what made the man’s eye red, watery and light-sensitive, a study reported in the British medical journal The Lancet said on Thursday. They discovered hair-like projections stuck in the man’s cornea. It was a light bulb moment for the patient, who remembered that three weeks earlier he had been cleaning a stubborn stain on the glass tank of his pet, a Chilean Rose tarantula. “He sensed movement in the terrarium. He turned his head and found that the tarantula, which was in close proximity, had released ‘a mist of hairs’ which hit his eyes and face,” the doctors wrote.
Youths go on rampage
Youths burned 1,137 cars across the country overnight as New Year’s Eve celebrations once again turned violent, the Interior Ministry said on Friday. Car burnings are regular occurrences in poor suburbs that ring France’s big cities, but the arson is especially prevalent during New Year’s Eve revelry. The number of vehicles torched was only 10 short of the record 1,147 burned this time last year, even though the Interior Ministry mobilized 45,000 police during the night — 10,000 more than 12 months ago.
Town wants Santa back
A minister said his country is considering requesting the return of St Nicholas’ remains from Italy so they may be placed at a museum to be built at his birthplace. St Nicholas, from whom the myth of Santa Claus emerged, was born and served as a bishop of what is now the Turkish Mediterranean town of Demre, in 4th-century AD. He was buried there, but his bones were later taken to the southern Italian town of Bari. Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay told the Anatolia news agency on Thursday that the country was planning to build a museum in the region and was likely to request the bones once construction was complete.
State allows gay marriage
Gay and lesbian couples rushed to marry in New Hampshire on Friday when at the stroke of midnight it became the fifth state to allow same-sex marriages, reversing some setbacks for the polarizing national movement. “I feel fabulous. It was wonderful and it was historic,” said Linda Murphy, 50, a college administrator from southern New Hampshire who married Donna Swartwout, her partner of 19 years. They were among 150 people gathered in the state capital of Concord, in temperatures of about minus 6°C, to witness the marriages of about a dozen gay or lesbian couples by a justice of the peace as the New Year dawned. New Hampshire passed its law in June amid an emotional national debate. President Barack Obama opposes gay marriage while supporting other gay rights. The New England state joins Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut and Iowa in permitting full marriage equality for same-sex couples. Washington DC is also on track for approval.
Town burns political effigies
The main players in last year’s coup went up in smoke on Friday as one village said good riddance to a difficult year. Hondurans burned life-sized dolls of ousted president Manuel Zelaya and de facto leader Roberto Micheletti in a traditional New Year ritual near Germania, a small town south of the capital, Tegucigalpa. Villagers also set fire to an effigy of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who supported fellow leftist Zelaya and even threatened military action. “The three of them are guilty for everything that has happened, they have greatly hurt us,” said Luis Lagos, 22, an upholsterer who also makes the dolls, known as monigotes. Soldiers grabbed Zelaya on June 28 and threw him out of the country in his pajamas, sparking Central America’s worst political crisis since the Cold War. The president has failed to be reinstated and has been holed up since September in the Brazilian embassy, where he welcomed this year playing his guitar and singing with his family and supporters.
Car thieves extra busy
Car thieves are known to roam the streets on holidays, when people are most inattentive, but it’s on New Year’s Day when they work the hardest, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) said on Thursday. More than 1 million vehicles were stolen in 2008 — 2,650 each day, or one every 33 seconds. On holidays, car thieves are most active, with 3,017 vehicles stolen on New Year’s Day 2008, followed by 2,847 on Labor Day (Sept. 1), and 2,727 on Halloween (Oct. 31) — Halloween is not a federal holiday. “We know that thieves never miss an opportunity to make a quick buck by stealing a car,” NICB president and CEO Joe Wehrle said.
Firefighters rescue snakes
Crews responding to a trailer fire in southern Utah had another factor to contend with: snakes. Kristeen Checketts, the animal control officer in St George, said there were about 19 pet pythons in the trailer when it caught fire on Thursday morning at a park for recreational vehicles, the Spectrum newspaper said. Once the fire was put down, Checketts and firefighters began pulling out snake after snake, most in cages and some up to 5.5m long. Checketts says 11 survived. The snakes’ owner tried to revive another by massaging it and blowing into its mouth through a plastic pipe.
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
The dramatic quietening of towns and cities during lockdown in Britain has changed the way the Earth moves beneath our feet, scientists said. Seismologists at the British Geological Survey (BGS) have found that their sensors are twitching less now that human activity has been curtailed, leading to a drop in the anthropogenic din that vibrates through the planet. The fall in the human hum that rings around the world means that, in theory at least, the scientists should be able to detect smaller earthquakes in the UK, and more distant tremors in Europe and in countries further afield than their equipment usually
China is facing a wave of COVID-19 infections from Russia, with more than half of the country’s total imported cases in the past two days coming through its northeastern land border. Heilongjiang, China’s northernmost province, which borders Russia, has reported 60 imported cases this month, according to the Health Commission of Heilongjiang Province. All but one entered the Chinese border by car or coach from the nearby Russian city of Vladivostok, after they flew from Moscow, where more than half of Russia’s 6,300 cases have been reported. The Russian cases account for one-third of all the confirmed infections China has detected in
‘GOOD NEWS’: The nation’s top health official said that the number of emergency phone calls had decreased, although it was too soon to say that it indicated a trend France on Friday reported 588 deaths from COVID-19 in hospital, its biggest 24-hour toll since the pandemic began. The new deaths brought to 5,091 the total number of people who have died in hospital of COVID-19 in France, top health official Jerome Salomon told reporters. There is no daily toll for those who have died of COVID-19 in retirement homes in France. Salomon said that a total of 1,416 people had died in such establishments from COVID-19 during the epidemic, which would raise the total French toll to at least 6,507. France has been in lockdown since March 17 in a bid to slow