Flash floods claim 23 lives
The death toll from flash floods climbed to 23 yesterday, officials said, as aid agencies scrambled to distribute supplies to thousands left homeless by the disaster. Health kits were being handed out to 10,000 people sheltering in evacuation centers in the capital, Honiara, in a bid to prevent disease outbreaks, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said. As many as 40 people are still missing in the Pacific island city after the Matanikau burst its banks on Thursday last week following days of heavy rain, creating a torrent of water that swept away entire communities. Three military cargo planes filled with humanitarian supplies have arrived from New Zealand and Australia this week and OCHA said more aid was beginning to arrive now that Honiara’s main airport had reopened. New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully announced a further NZ$1.2 million (US$1 million) in aid funding, bringing the country’s total contribution to NZ$1.5 million.
Diplomat appears in court
A Venezuelan diplomat reappeared briefly in court on Monday on charges of killing his country’s ambassador in July 2012, although the case was adjourned until early June. Former Venezuelan former first secretary to Kenya Dwight Sagaray is charged alongside several other accused. Proceedings have been delayed because not all of the co-accused had lawyers, although a High Court judge ruled the trial would get under way from June 3 now that all of the accused had lawyers. Then-acting Venezuelan ambassador Olga Fonseca, 57, was strangled to death at her residence on July 26, 2012, less than two weeks after arriving in the country to head the diplomatic mission. Local media said her hands and feet had been tied. The motives for Fonseca’s killing remain mysterious, but a former embassy guard testified in December last year that the mission smuggled drugs through its diplomatic pouch.
Oldest message delivered
A message in a bottle tossed in the sea in Germany 101 years ago, believed to be the world’s oldest, has been presented to the sender’s granddaughter, a museum said on Monday. A fisherman pulled the beer bottle with the scribbled message out of the Baltic off the northern city of Kiel last month, Holger von Neuhoff of the International Maritime Museum in Hamburg said. “This is certainly the first time such an old message in a bottle has been found, particularly with the bottle intact,” he said. Researchers then set to work identifying the author and managed to track down his 62-year-old granddaughter, Angela Erdmann, who lives in Berlin. “It was almost unbelievable,” Erdmann told German news agency DPA. She was first able to hold the bottle last week. Inside was a message on a postcard requesting the finder to return it to his home address in Berlin. “That was a pretty moving moment,” Erdmann said. “Tears rolled down my cheeks.”
Peaches Geldof dies at 25
Model and media personality Peaches Geldof, the second daughter of Irish singer Bob Geldof and the member of a talented, troubled family who grew up in the glare of Britain’s tabloid press, was found dead on Monday aged 25. There was no immediate word on the cause of Geldof’s death at her home in Wrotham, southeast England, but police called it “unexplained and sudden.” In a family statement, Bob Geldof said: “Peaches has died. We are beyond pain.”