Drunk drives on runway
A drunken British man was arrested on Tuesday after driving a stolen car on an Amsterdam airport runway “for a few minutes,” police said. The unnamed passenger headed home for Christmas had pushed an emergency exit button at one of Schiphol airport’s gates, stumbled onto the tarmac and stole a car belonging to an airport contractor, police spokesman Dennis Muller said. “He drove around for a few minutes, but at no point was there any danger to flight traffic,” Muller said. “We don’t know why he took the car, these are things you do when you’re drunk.”
Blast, quake rock Sochi
A gas pipeline blast followed by a mild earthquake has struck the Black Sea resort of Sochi, which will host the 2014 Winter Olympics, a local government spokeswoman said yesterday. Irina Gogoleva of the Emergencies Ministry said no one was hurt and there was no apparent damage to the city’s infrastructure after a magnitude 5.2 earthquake was reported at 2:42am yesterday. Gogoleva said the epicenter of the quake was about 150km off Sochi in the Black Sea. In an unrelated incident, a gas pipeline that feeds a local power station exploded a couple of hours before the quake. Gogoleva said the power plant had switched to fuel oil and the city was receiving electrical power. She said the reason for the blast was unknown. Sochi, the first city in the nation to have been awarded the Winter Olympics, is located on the coast close to Georgia.
Bush Sr still in hospital
Former president George H.W. Bush spent Christmas in a Houston hospital with his wife, Barbara, and other relatives who planned to treat him to a special holiday meal. Bush’s son Neil and his wife also visited on Tuesday, and one of Bush’s grandsons was planning to stop by as well, said Jim McGrath, Bush’s spokesman in Houston. The 88-year-old has been in the hospital since Nov. 23 with a lingering, bronchitis-like cough. A hospital spokesman had said Bush was likely to be released to spend Christmas at home, but then McGrath said the former president developed a fever.
Thatcher remains in hospital
Former prime minister Margaret Thatcher spent Christmas in hospital recovering from bladder surgery, a spokeswoman said on Tuesday. There has been no change in Thatcher’s condition since Sunday, when the 87-year-old was said to be “in good spirits,” the spokeswoman added. Thatcher was admitted to hospital on Thursday last week for a minor operation to remove a growth in her bladder. She suffers from dementia and has appeared increasingly rarely in public in recent years.
Police helicopter crashes
A police helicopter belonging to the Interior Ministry crashed shortly after takeoff on Tuesday afternoon in the central part of the country, killing five people on board, officials said. The Mi-8 helicopter slammed into the ground just after taking off from an airport in the city of Alexandria in the Kirovograd region, about 320km southeast of the capital, Kiev, ministry spokesman Serhiy Burlakov said. Investigators were working to determine what caused the helicopter to hit the ground as it was gaining speed, Burlakov said. Three of the dead were crewmembers, and two were ground staff on board the helicopter.