Graves robbed for voodoo
Tomb raiders have dug up more than 100 graves at a cemetery since Saturday last week for what authorities suspect is a black-market trade in human organs and skulls for voodoo-ritual fetishes. The incident is the most serious case of grave-robbing in the West African state, the world capital of voodoo, where most of the country’s 9 million residents practice a benign form of the official religion. Authorities in Dangbo, a village 10km from the capital, Porto-Novo, began an investigation after a mason working at the cemetery said he spotted several masked men digging up the graves, from which organs and skulls were removed. “The desecration of graves is about money in this region,” said Joseph Afaton, director of the cemetery. “It is for sacrifices, or for bewitching.” Body parts of humans and rare animals are prized by some people in central Africa for their supposed supernatural powers, and are used in occult ceremonies. Traffickers often obtain human remains from grave robbers.
Officials show treasure
Spanish cultural officials have allowed the first peep at 16 tonnes of shipwreck treasure worth an estimated US$500 million that a US salvage company gave up after a five-year international ownership dispute. A tiny portion of the loot from the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, a galleon that sank off Portugal’s Atlantic coast near the Strait of Gibraltar in 1804, was shown to the media: 12 individual silver coins, a block of encrusted silver coins, two gold tobacco boxes and a bronze pulley. Officials on Friday said some of the treasure would be put on display in museums next year. Spain got it from Florida-based Odyssey Marine Exploration in February after US courts rejected arguments that the company was entitled to all or most of the treasure.
Cheese cake turns deadly
The deadly bacterium Listeria monocytogenes was found in gorgonzola and mascarpone cheese cake, a notice to the EU’s food alert system showed. The bacteria were found during official checks in cheese cake past its best-before date and no action was taken, according to a notice updated yesterday on the EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed. The cake was also distributed to Germany and the Netherlands, the notice showed. The finding follows detection of the pathogen earlier this month in Italian raw-milk cheese. Listeria monocytogenes is a food-borne pathogen that can cause listeriosis, which can lead to brain infection and death. An outbreak in the US this year linked to imported ricotta salata cheese contributed to at least two deaths, according to the US’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Plane crashes in storm
A cargo plane crashed at Brazzaville airport as it was trying to land in a storm on Friday, killing about 30 residents and also the crew, emergency services and witnesses said. About 30 local people had been killed as the plane skidded off the runway and crashed into houses and a bar in the Congolese capital before crashing into a ravine, said Georgelin Massemba, head of the emergency services. The crew, numbering three or four people, are thought to have died in the ensuing fire. Another about 20 people had been injured in the crash and taken to nearby hospitals, witnesses said. The Ilyushin plane, registered with local company Aero-services, was flying in from the western port city of Pointe Noire carrying cars and other goods.