Australian tourists found
Five Australian tourists who got lost in the Salar de Uyuni salt flat were found on Friday, but their local guide is still missing, police said. “We have found the van with the five tourists unharmed, but the driver is missing” after going to look for help, Potosi Department of Tourism director Francisco Quisberth told reporters. The tourists, between 21 and 31 years of age, went missing after leaving Tupiza on Thursday, Potosi police commander Colonel Denis Duchen said earlier. There are no roads in the Salar, the world’s largest salt flat. It is located near the crest of the Andes, about 3,650m above sea level, and spread across a desolate expanse of 12,000km2. Visitors usually navigate their way around the treacherous landscape by relying on tracks left by previous vehicles, but these can be washed out by heavy rain.
Woman charged over guns
Authorities have charged a 24-year-old woman in connection with the guns used in the Christmas Eve ambush slaying of two volunteer firefighters responding to a house fire in upstate New York. Attorney William Hochul says Dawn Nguyen of Rochester faces federal charges of knowingly making a false statement. She was hit earlier on Friday with a state charge of filing a falsified business record. State Police Senior Investigator James Sewell says the charges are connected to the purchase of an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun that William Spengler had with him on Monday, when firefighters Michael Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka were gunned down. Three other people were wounded before the 62-year-old Spengler killed himself.
Old burial site found
Archeologists uncovered the bones of 12 children and adults who may have been buried 800 years ago, a National Institute of Anthropology and History expert said. The skeletons were discovered as the archeologists supervised the installation of a new drain in an old neighborhood of Cholula, a city located 120km north of the capital. The first skull was found at the site on Dec. 8 and by Thursday, the experts had identified the remains of 12 individuals. The ethnic origin of the bodies is also yet to be determined, though archeologist Ashuni Romero Butron said that 800 years ago, the area was home to people from the Tolteca-Chichimeca and the Olmeca-Xicalanca cultures. In April, another burial site with 17 skeletons, some 700 years old, was found nearby.
Activists settle circus suit
An animal rights group will pay Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus US$9.3 million to settle a lawsuit the circus filed after courts found that activists paid a former circus worker for his help in claiming the circus abused elephants. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said on Friday it was not admitting any wrongdoing in settling the lawsuit. The New York-based animal rights group was one of several involved in a lawsuit filed in 2000 against the circus’ owner, Feld Entertainment Inc, claiming elephants were abused. Courts later found that the animal rights activists had paid a former Ringling barn helper who was involved in the lawsuit at least US$190,000, which made him “essentially a paid plaintiff” who lacked credibility.