Flood sets crocodiles free
About 15,000 crocodiles have escaped from a farm amid heavy rains and flooding, daily Beeld reported yesterday. The predators were sprung from the Rakwena Crocodile Farm in the far north of the country when owners were forced to open the gates to prevent a storm surge. Many have since been recaptured, but at least half remain on the loose, scattered far and wide. One turned up on a school rugby pitch 120km away. The surrounding Limpopo Province has been hit by serious floods which have killed 10 people and left many homeless.
South Pole rescue stalled
Bad weather forced rescuers in Antarctica to delay until today an attempt to reach a small plane that was carrying three Canadians when it disappeared over a mountain range. The plane was flying from a US station near the South Pole to an Italian research base in Terra Nova Bay. Its emergency locator started transmitting about 10pm on Wednesday in the Queen Alexandra Mountains, halfway to its intended destination. Authorities presume it crashed. Rescue crews yesterday spent about five hours circling above the site in a DC3 plane. However, heavy cloud and hurricane-force winds prevented them from seeing the plane or attempting a helicopter landing. The de Havilland Twin Otter plane was carrying survival equipment, New Zealand Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator John Ashby said. The plane is operated by Kenn Borek Air Ltd, a Canadian firm that charters aircraft to the US Antarctic program.
Stuck US ship makes waves
The US Navy yesterday said it needed to remove thousands of liters of oil from a minesweeper stuck on the World Heritage-listed Tubbataha Reef, warning it was too badly damaged to be towed away. The 68m USS Guardian, which became embedded in the reef week ago, will have to be lifted onto another ship or barge, a process that might take another two weeks, US Rear Admiral Thomas Carney said. He said the Guardian had listed after being battered by huge waves, and the most pressing issue was to remove 57,000 liters of fuel. While Carney said it was too early to determine how much damage the ship has caused, the government reported this week that about 1,000m2 of coral had already been impacted. This equates out to roughly 1 percent of Tubbataha, famous for its rich marine life and coral that rival Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The incident has stoked public anger, with the US Navy yet to explain why it was sailing through a protected marine sanctuary en route to Indonesia. The head of the agency supervising the sanctuary said this week that the captain of the ship ignored warnings that it was nearing the reef.
Execution drug to be made
The country will begin producing its own chemical for executing prisoners after factories in the EU stopped shipments because of objections there to the death penalty. The government stopped using firing squads in 2011 because of concerns it was traumatizing the shooters. Last year, it said it was unable to execute 532 on death row because it could not source the drugs for lethal injections. The Laborer newspaper yesterday quoted Minister of Public Security Tran Dai Quang as saying that the country would produce its own drug. Several US states have also said objections from EU factories were making it hard to find the chemical.
Teacher arrested for abuse
A Los Angeles elementary-school teacher accused of sexually abusing 19 students and one adult was arrested on Wednesday, police said. Eight counts of continual sexual abuse and seven counts of lewd acts upon a child have been filed against Robert Pimental, 57, for abuse that took place at George De La Torre Jr Elementary in the Wilmington area, police said. His bail has been set at US$12 million. When officials learned of the allegations earlier this year, they immediately removed Pimental from campus and parents and state credentialing authorities were informed, school district spokesman Daryl Strickland said. Parents and guardians will be told of the arrest by letter and phone, he said. Pimental has worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District since 1974.
Flaming cheese shuts tunnel
A road tunnel in the north of the country will be shut for several weeks after a 27 tonne truckload of sweet goat’s milk cheese caught fire. Regional traffic department chief Geir Joergensen said flames engulfed a tunnel near the small Arctic municipality of Tysfjord — about 1,350km north of Oslo — last week and gases from the melting, brown load hindered firefighters. It took four days to put it out. The driver was not hurt and no other vehicles were in the 3.6km tunnel. Joergensen on Wednesday said that the tunnel likely will be closed for two more weeks.
Homegrown hero unmasked
He was a self-styled superhero, prowling the gritty outskirts of Buenos Aires wearing a mask and cartoonish outfit and armed only with a flashlight, compass and pepper spray as he took on bad guys. However, the man who called himself Menganno — Spanish for Joe Blow — has had his cover blown thanks to an alleged shootout with muggers. Superhero Oscar Lefosse, 43, is a former police officer who served from 1986 to 1996. In an interview with foreign media in 2010, Menganno described himself as “a real, flesh and blood superhero. My goal is for all of us to be better and show more solidarity. Injustice makes me sick.” Lefosse used to hide his identity behind a mask that was a mix of dark and baby blue and coordinated with his Superman-style suit with a symbol on his chest. On Monday, Lefosse told police that three criminals opened fire on his car as he drove with his wife. He returned fire with his Glock pistol, but one police official said the shots all came from inside the car. “He could have killed somebody, an innocent bystander. He is irresponsible,” the official said.
Nazi-looted art auctioned
A poster collection seized from a Jewish collector by the Nazis and only returned to his descendants in recent years has brought in approximately US$2.5 million at a New York auction. Born in 1881, Hans Sachs started collecting posters as a teen and became Germany’s leading private collector with 12,500 posters. The Nazis seized the collection in 1938 and the posters were held behind the Iron Curtain in East Berlin. His grandson, Peter Sachs, went through a legal battle for several years to get back what was left of the collection. Just more than 1,200 posters were sold by Guernsey’s over the weekend in the first of three sales. A poster called Kunstsalon Aktuaryus dating to about 1900 sold for US$57,950.