Space rocket self-destructs
A giant supply spacecraft burned up over the South Pacific yesterday in a self-destruct operation after a six-month mission to the International Space Station (ISS), the European Space Agency (ESA) said. Laden with rubbish from the ISS, the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) undocked from the orbital outpost on Friday to begin its final manoeuvres. “Edoardo Amaldi and its waste burnt up harmlessly in the upper atmosphere,” the ESA said in a press release. Undocking had been delayed by three days because astronauts had sent the craft a wrong identification code. Named after a 20th-century Italian physicist, the Edoardo Amaldi was the third of five ATVs that Europe is scheduled to supply for the ISS. The robot craft, each the size of a London double-decker bus, are designed to make one-way trips, hauling up tonnes of food, water, air, equipment and other supplies for the ISS crew.
President to undergo surgery
President Juan Manuel Santos is to spend two or three days in hospital after surgery for non-aggressive prostate cancer, his doctor said on Tuesday. Midway through his four-year term, Santos surprised the country on Monday night when he announced doctors had discovered a cancerous growth, but the disease had been caught in time and there was minimal risk. Santos was scheduled to have surgery to remove his prostate early yesterday after tests showed a malignant tumor, his urologist, Felipe Gomez, said. The cancer will not require chemotherapy, he said. Santos, who has three children, joins several other Latin American leaders who have fought cancer in recent years, including Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Brazilian President Vilma Rousseff.
Families mourn girls’ deaths
Two refugee families in Texas are mourning their teenage daughters, victims of an apparent hit-and-run accident. Police say Tanzanian-born Irafasha Vestina, 14, and Violette Ntawurusimba, 13, were walking to Irafasha’s home on Sunday night when a truck — driven by 19-year-old Gillermo Flores — hit them. Flores was jailed on Tuesday on US$100,000 bond on two counts of causing an accident involving death. The Amarillo Globe-News reported that Flores initially fled, but his family brought him to police. The girls’ families fled political unrest in Tanzania.
Bishop in sex abuse probe
The Vatican is investigating a Chilean bishop for the alleged sexual abuse of minors, making him the most senior Catholic clergyman to be drawn into a scandal that has implicated 20 priests so far, the church said on Tuesday. The church investigation into the bishop of the city of Iquique, Marco Antonio Ordenes, 47, was launched in April, but details in the case have not been disclosed. “Because the accused person is a bishop, the procedure is being carried out by the Holy See,” a spokesman for the Chilean conference of bishops, Jaime Coiro, said at a news conference. “From the start of this case, the Vatican embassy has offered psychological support and comfort for the people affected and it has been in contact with Monsignor Ordenes, who is on medical leave,” Coiro said. The newspaper La Tercera said the investigation is being led by the Vatican’s representative in Chile, Archbishop Ivo Scapolo and that Ordenes was in Peru recovering from a congenital liver problem. The church provided no details on the alleged victims or the circumstances surrounding the alleged abuse.