Dried seahorses seized
More than 16,000 dried seahorses destined for illegal export to Asia, where the animal is sought for its supposed healing properties, were seized on Thursday in Peru’s capital Lima, authorities said. “We managed to seize ... 16,280 seahorses destined to be sold illegally on the Asian continent,” Colonel Victor Fernandez, from the police unit tasked with confiscating such goods, said. Police uncovered the cargo, weighing around 160kg, in three cases during a search operation near the airport in the Peruvian capital. In Asia, particularly in China, South Korea and Japan, the seahorse — protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species — is coveted for its alleged medicinal and aphrodisiac properties. Seahorse powder sells for about US$6,000 per kilo, Fernandez said.
Quebec in disease scare
Legionnaire’s disease, which hit Quebec in the middle of last month, has infected 65 people and killed six, health authorities of the French-speaking Canadian province said. “We are very concerned by the current situation,” Quebec public health chief Francois Desbiens said. “It’s the largest legionellosis outbreak in Canada in recent years.” Sixteen new cases were reported on Thursday alone. Health authorities suspect improper maintenance of cooling towers in air conditioning systems are at fault for the outbreak. Legionella bacteria grow in stagnant water in such appliances, then spread with droplets expelled by the system during operation. The 68 cooling towers housed in 28 buildings were inspected, cleaned and disinfected, but the operation has not put an end to the epidemic. Legionnaire’s disease — discovered in 1976 during a veterans convention in the US, where 29 people died — is an infection that causes high fever, dry cough and pneumonia.
Group storm Arctic oil rig
Greenpeace says that its activists have stormed a floating oil rig in the Pechora Sea to protest oil drilling in the Arctic. Greenpeace said in a statement yesterday that six activists boarded the Prirazlomnaya platform early yesterday morning and remain on the facility. They set off in inflatable speedboats from their ship and scaled the platform with mooring lines. The platform is owned and operated by a subsidiary of energy giant Gazprom, which is pioneering the country’s oil drilling in the Arctic. Gazprom was not immediately available for comment. Both Russian and international environmentalists have warned that drilling in the Russian Arctic could have disastrous consequences because of a lack of technology and infrastructure to deal with a possible spill in a remote region with massive icebergs and heavy storms.