Man sets himself on fire
A man who set himself on fire on the National Mall in Washington on Friday was hospitalized in critical condition after bystanders used the shirts off their backs to tamp down the flames, police and witnesses said. Police responded to an emergency call about a fire shortly before 4:30pm on the Mall lined by the Smithsonian museums, police spokesman Hugh Carew said. The man, who has not been identified, was conscious when he was taken to Washington Hospital Center. He was in critical condition on Friday night, the hospital Twitter feed said. A helicopter landed in the middle of the Mall to transport the man. Nicole Didyk, an environmental engineer for the Federal Aviation Administration, said she was out for a run when she saw spotted a man with small flames on him. She said she watched in shock as several men rushed toward him, searching as they ran for water or blankets. “Nobody had anything, so they just ended up pulling off their shirts and tamping him down with them,” Didyk said. “They got him to sit down and roll on the ground to put [himself] out.” Throughout the ordeal, the man on fire “was stunningly silent,” she said.
City aims for coffee record
A city claimed to set a world record on Friday after 13,800 people gathered in a town square for a cup of coffee, a feat designed to promote the beverage in a nation that grows the beans, but consumes little. The event was organized by authorities in the eastern province of Boyaca and the farmer-funded National Federation of Coffee Producers in the world’s biggest producer of smooth-tasting “washed” arabicas. The organizers said they have submitted evidence of the event held in Boyaca’s capital, Tunja, to Guinness World Records. The Guinness Web site says the largest ever “coffee party” was in Jugendpark, Cologne, Germany, in August 2009, at which 8,162 participants were served an iced coffee drink.
Grant to help slum residents
Thousands of youths in a Rio de Janeiro slum immortalized in a hit movie are to benefit from a multi-million dollar program designed to give them a career, organizers said on Friday. About 40,000 people aged between 15 and 29 from the Cidade de Deus (“City of God”) community are to get assistance from a government initiative sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank. The Rio state government is weighing in with US$24 million to add to a US$60 million grant from the bank, organizers said. Cidade de Deus was famously depicted in the 2002 Oscar-nominated film by Fernando Meirelles City of God, about the residents’ struggle for survival amid extreme drug-gang related violence.
Bus crash kills 14
At least 14 people died on Friday when a bus hurtled down a hillside on the outskirts of Mexico City, ejecting six victims through the windows and leaving 25 injured, police said. Before it careened off the highway, the bus was en route to Toluca in the hills of the State of Mexico. “There wasn’t a collision with another vehicle, but instead the bus veered off the asphalt and plunged down the mountainside about 100 or 120 meters,” state attorney general Miguel Angel Contreras said. The cause of the accident remained unclear, he said. Local television footage of the accident’s aftermath accident showed the bus upside down, wreckage strewn amid broken tree branches as emergency workers stretchered off survivors.