Volcanic ash shuts airport
An airport serving the country’s fourth-largest city suspended operations for seven hours because of volcanic ash from the Popocatepetl volcano. The international airport in Puebla was temporarily closed as a precautionary measure, Puebla airport spokesman Herbert Lopez Palma said. Palma said the airport reopened after the ash stopped falling and the airstrips were cleaned up. The temporary closure affected six domestic and international flights to Houston and Dallas, Texas. The airport is east of Mexico City and about 30km from the 5,450m volcano. At the Mexico City airport, Alaska Airlines on Friday canceled its daily flight to and from Los Angeles. Authorities said this week that a lava dome is growing inside the crater and could cause further eruptions.
Tomato shortage angers
The government asked consumers on Friday to try to stay away from the beloved food for at least two months because of an expected shortage caused by seasonal reasons, including crop rotations. Officials say all other fruits and vegetables are available. However, people are frustrated because the tomato is a must in many of their dishes and is often used in pizza toppings, sauces and salads. Consumers also have been recently hit by a flour shortage after the worst wheat harvest in the country’s history sent bread prices soaring.
Man, 73, dies scuba diving
A 73-year-old US tourist has died while on a scuba diving trip. Police spokeswoman Janet Dougall says the man died on Wednesday after losing consciousness while ascending along an underwater cliff. She said the man was given CPR and transported to shore, but declared dead at a clinic. Dougall said the man was vacationing with his wife in Little Cayman. She said police are not yet releasing his name or hometown.
Bail posted for princess
Authorities say the consulate of Saudi Arabia posted the US$5 million bail of a Saudi princess charged with human trafficking. Princess Meshael Alayban was released from custody on Thursday. Orange County Sheriff Department Lieutenant Jeff Hallock said on Friday that the consulate delivered a US$5 million check to the department, and the funds were verified. The 42-year-old Alayban was arrested on Wednesday on a charge of human trafficking for allegedly holding a Kenyan maid against her will and forcing her to work long hours for meager pay. Efforts to reach the press office for the embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington were not immediately successful.
‘El Loco’ pleads not guilty
A man known in Colombia as “El Loco” has pleaded not guilty to money laundering charges in a case accusing him of trafficking hundreds of tonnes of cocaine. Daniel Barrera Barrera entered the plea on Thursday in federal court in Brooklyn. He had pleaded not guilty to related narcotics charges on Wednesday in his first court appearance in Manhattan. Prosecutors have described the 44-year-old Barrera as one of the largest cocaine distributors in history. Authorities say Barrera laundered tens of millions of dollars of profits as he processed about 30 tonnes of raw cocaine into cocaine powder each month since 1998. They also allege he funneled drug proceeds to rebel forces in Colombia. Barrera’s attorney declined comment outside of court.