Bird flu kills man
The deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu has killed a 31-year-old man, the second fatality reported in the southwest. The Guizhou provincial health department said on its Web site that the man died of multiple organ failure two days ago at a hospital in Guiyang. The man was the second person to have died in Guiyang after contracting bird flu earlier this month. The first fatality was a 21-year-old woman. Xinhua news agency says both patients had close contacts with birds. Xinhua says 110 people who had contact with the patients have been released from quarantine.
Sisters’ killers hunted
Police were searching villages in the west on Friday for suspects in the rape and killing of three young sisters, as a country still angry over the fatal gang rape of a woman on a New Delhi bus in December last year faces another heinous sexual attack. The bodies of the sisters, aged 7, 9 and 11, were found on Feb. 16 in a village well in Bhandara District in Maharashtra after they had gone missing from school two days earlier, police officer Abhinav Deshmukh said. The area is more than 1,000km south of New Delhi. Police did not take the case seriously and did nothing for several days until villagers held protests, the victims’ mother said. Ten teams of 30 investigators were working on the case and that he was confident they would find the killers soon, Deshmukh said on Friday. Police first dismissed the deaths as accidental, the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency reported. Villagers forced shops to close, burned tires and blocked a national highway in the area for hours earlier this week, demanding justice. Police eventually registered a case of rape and murder after a post-mortem of the girls found that they had been sexually abused and brutally killed, PTI said. One police officer has been suspended.
Bears found in factory
Two rare Malayan sun bears have been rescued after being discovered in an abandoned garment factory, a zoo official said on Friday. The male and female bears were rescued by officials from the Phnom Tamao Zoo and the Wildlife Alliance, who found them in the factory in Kandal Province last week, zoo director Nhek Rattanak Pich said. “The bears were left with no food and no one to care for them after the factory owner fled the country,” the Wildlife Alliance said on its Web site. Local authorities had called them after the bears were found in purpose-built cages at the factory, which closed without notice in December last year, the group said. The bears are now being cared for at the zoo, its director said, adding that he did not know why they had been kept at the factory. Bears are among many species that have been decimated by wildlife trafficking in Asia, which is fueled in large part by China’s appetite for exotic meats and animal parts for traditional medicine.
Ruling party chair resigns
The chairman of Indonesia’s ruling party, Anas Urbaningrum, announced his resignation yesterday after the country’s anti-graft body named him a suspect in a multimillion-dollar corruption case. “I quit as the chairman of the Democratic Party,” he told reporters in a press conference. Urbaningrum, aged 43, was named a suspect two days ago for allegedly receiving “gifts or a promise of gifts” in a graft case linked to the construction of the Hambalang sports center project near Jakarta, worth about 1.17 trillion rupiah (US$120.5 million).
Torrential rain floods Athens
Torrential rainfall in the capital on Friday crippled traffic, inundated basements and streets, and was blamed for the death of woman whose car was trapped in floodwater, authorities said. The overnight storm swept across greater Athens, flooding hundreds of homes, causing blackouts in parts of the city and forcing authorities to close major roads and a central subway station. “We have many, many problems — it’s hard to know where to begin describing it,” Deputy Fire Chief Vassilis Papageorgiou said. “We have more than 60 crews working to get people out of stranded vehicles.” The fire department said it received about 1,500 calls to pump out water in greater Athens. During five hours of heavy rainfall, more than 100mm fell in some parts of the city — more than the monthly average of 50mm. In parliament, a worker clearing water from the roof of the main assembly hall during a session tripped and went through a glass skylight, but was pulled to safety by a policeman. The accident occurred as Cabinet members were preparing to answer questions. “The worker could have landed on our heads,” Sports Minister Yiannis Ioannidis said.
Mammoth skeleton found
The rare remains of a prehistoric species of southern mammoth, whose giant tusks stretched more than 1m long, have been uncovered in the south of the country, news agency Itar-Tass reported. It is the eighth known find of a full skeleton of the gargantuan mammal — which stood at an estimated height of 4m. The mammoth was discovered when a cliff collapsed in the mountainous province of Kabardino-Balkaria in the North Caucasus. Paleontologists said the remote area is so full of the bones of prehistoric beasts that local highlanders have been collecting them for years. “It is very likely that we are not only talking about a single skeleton, but a whole graveyard of prehistoric animals. Locals use some of the backbones as stools,” Viktor Kotlyarov told Tass this week. One of the largest beasts to roam Earth, the southern mammoth is thought to more closely resemble today’s elephants than its furry northern cousin, the woolly mammoth.
Priests should marry: cleric
Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric says priests should be allowed to marry and have children. Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who heads the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, says the requirement for priestly celibacy is “not of divine origin” and could be reconsidered. He told BBC Scotland that “the celibacy of the clergy, whether priests should marry — Jesus didn’t say that.” He said on Friday that he would be “very happy” if priests were able to consider getting married. O’Brien will form part of the conclave of cardinals that chooses the next pontiff, following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.
Avalanche kills skier
Police say an avalanche that swept down the backside of the Revelstoke Mountain Resort in southeastern British Columbia caught three skiers, killing one of them. Royal Canadian Mounted Police Corporal Dan Moskaluk said the group was skiing in an out-of-bounds area when the avalanche happened on Friday. Resort general manager Rob Elliot says the three were part of a group of five or six men. Moskaluk says other members of the group were able to rescue two of the three people involved, but the third person was found dead. The skiers were not immediately identified.