World News Quick Take

Agencies

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 - Page 7

SINGAPORE

Garbage hoarder found dead

A 76-year-old man who lived alone was found dead in his flat, which was piled to the ceiling with garbage he had collected from bins over the past decade, a report said yesterday. An emergency services team took nearly an hour on Monday to dismantle the apartment’s heavily locked front door after neighbors complained of a stench and as long to find the remains after going through the junk, the Straits Times reported. Police confirmed yesterday that they found the body of a man in his 70s in a public housing flat and were investigating it as an “unnatural death.” A neighbor told the Straits Times that the man’s wife and daughter moved out about 10 years ago and his hoarding habit began at about the same time. He would rummage through dustbins in the area and stash items he found in plastic bags in his apartment. “When I asked him what was in the bags, he said he had treasures,” the neighbor said.

GERMANY

Man listed as dead, alive

For 31 years, Rene Seiptius had been counted among the thousands of people killed while trying to escape the confines of communist East Germany. As it turns out, he was alive all along. “I can’t explain how it could have happened,” Seiptius said on Monday. Seiptius first attempted to cross the deadly strip of land that once separated East Germany from the West in 1981, when he was 17. He and two friends managed to tiptoe past a row of minefields, but they triggered fire from an automatic spring gun. One of Seiptius’ crew died and their cover was blown. They were quickly arrested by border guards, but records kept by East Germany’s notorious secret police showed Seiptius as having died during the botched escape attempt. “I’ve been alive for the last 48 years,” he said. Eventually his name found its way onto a list of all the people who had died along Germany’s East-West border compiled by a museum in Berlin. The case was not made public until recently, when Seiptius’ ex-wife stumbled across an article on the Web site of German broadcaster NDR, which listed Seiptius as deceased. “It was pure coincidence,” Patricia Seiptius said. “I was looking for something online and one of the search results was this article, I looked at it and there was his name. I couldn’t believe it.”

AUSTRIA

Climber in crevasse ordeal

Mountain rescuers on Tuesday extracted a 70-year-old German man claiming to have been stuck for about a week in a glacier crevasse, police said, calling it incredible that he was still alive. The climber, who has not been named, was only slightly injured after his ordeal, although he was very cold and exhausted. He was airlifted to hospital in Innsbruck by helicopter. He told rescuers that he had set off about a week ago without crampons and that at about 3,000m up he had slid into the 20m deep crevasse. Other mountaineers were eventually alerted by his cries and called in rescuers. “It is a sensation that he survived there for a week,” police said. “He was very lucky.”

FRANCE

Man jailed for stabbing dog

A 51-year-old man has been given an eight-month prison sentence for killing a dachshund by repeatedly stabbing it with a fork, a court spokesman said on Tuesday. The homeless man was sentenced on Monday after being arrested at the weekend. Routine police checks revealed he was wanted on France’s Indian Ocean island of Reunion for animal cruelty after killing the dog, which belonged to the family he had been staying with.

ITALY

Police raid cannabis factory

Police have found a flourishing cannabis factory in an abandoned metro tunnel built beneath Rome during the Benito Mussolini era, a police officer said on Tuesday. Police raided the tunnel, which is 1km long and was officially a mushroom farm, on Saturday after detecting the pungent odor of marijuana around its entrance last week. The tunnel is close to the Italian central bank’s vaults in southeastern Rome. Video footage released by the police showed thriving marijuana plants stretching along the last section of the 4,000km2 tunnel, along with stacks of bags filled with cannabis next to weighing and processing equipment. Italy’s financial police said they had confiscated 340kg of the drug worth an estimated 3 million euros (US$3.7 million). The 57 year-old owner of the farm has been arrested.

SOUTH AFRICA

Serial killer suspect arrested

A man suspected in a string of grisly rapes and murders that gave a community the moniker “village of death” has been arrested, the Daily Dispatch said yesterday. Bulelani Mabhayi, 39, was arrested on Sunday after an elderly woman was found hacked to death the night before in the Eastern Cape village of Tholeni, the paper reported. He is being charged with a string of unresolved rapes and murders in the village, where 19 women have been slain since 2009, a police spokesman said. Police took Mabhayi to the village, where he pointed out the homes of his suspected victims, police said. Residents said they were relieved but still scared. “We don’t know if he was the only one committing these crimes or not,” resident Nowinile Mayekiso said.

MEXICO

Animals meet the press

It wasn’t just another political dog-and-pony show. Mexico’s leftist presidential candidate brought a pig, a sheep and chickens to a news conference on Tuesday. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says the animals were given to voters by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in exchange for votes. Lopez Obrador has filed court appeals against election results showing he finished 6.6 percentage points behind the PRI’s candidate. The pig was the most vocal of the group. The sheep quietly munched on grass placed on the floor of Lopez Obrador’s headquarters, while the chicken and some turkeys pecked aimlessly. Lopez Obrador’s supporters say the PRI also handed out gift cards and household goods during the campaign, accusations the PRI denies.

AUSTRIA

‘Frozen Dumbo’ a success

Scientists have succeeded for the first time in impregnating an elephant with frozen sperm, ultrasound pictures presented by Vienna’s Schoenbrunn Zoo showed on Tuesday. The scan shows a 10.6cm long, five-month-old fetus with its trunk, legs, tail, eyes and ears clearly discernible. The fetus, which was scanned in April, is due to be born to 26-year-old African elephant Tonga in or around August next year after a pregnancy of about 630 days, the zoo said. Elephants have been impregnated with fresh or refrigerated sperm in the past in an effort to protect endangered species, but frozen sperm can be transported further, and allows the female elephant to be inseminated at her most fertile time. The sperm was taken from a sedated wild elephant in South Africa using electroejaculation in the project known internally as “Operation Frozen Dumbo,” a zoo spokeswoman said. It took eight months to clear customs on its way to France due to lack of an established procedure for such wares.