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|August 14-20, 2008
Floods in India claim 70 lives
NEW DELHI — At least 70 people have died over the past five days in floods triggered by heavy monsoon rains in Andhra Pradesh state, southern India, local media said.
The floods, the worst in the past eight years, rattled through the coastline of the Bay of Bengal Tuesday, Aug. 5, affecting around 50 neighborhoods in Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh.
Rescuers said the death toll was likely to rise when a truck carrying 31 villagers was swept away by a river in the state’s Guntur district. Four bodies have been recovered, while other passengers are reported as still missing.
Death toll rising with water
BEIJING — The death toll following heavy rains that swept through China’s southwest province of Yunnan has risen to 20 people, national media said.
Another 10 people are also reported as missing, and Chinese authorities fear that the death toll could rise further, China’s Xinhua news agency said.
The financial damage caused by the typhoon, which was the ninth to hit the country this year, is estimated at $43.7 million.
800 walrus carcasses found
MOSCOW — Border officials in Chukotka, Russia’s Far East, discovered more than 800 walrus carcasses believed to have been killed by poachers for their valuable tusks, a Russian natural resources ministry spokesman says.
The carcasses were found with gunshot wounds on the coastline of the Chukotka Peninsula near the Chegitun River. Officials believe that the mammals were killed around two to four weeks ago.
During the summer, walrus colonies inhabit many parts of Chukotka and at a few remote areas in Alaska. In winter, they can also be seen in eastern Kamchatka and the Commander Islands.
Round-the-world voyage ends
VLADIVOSTOK, Russia — The Russian sailing ship Pallada was greeted by hundreds of residents of Vladivostok as it arrived in Russia’s largest port on the Pacific after completing a journey around the world.
The Pallada’s trip lasted more than nine months. The journey was dedicated to the 190th anniversary of a round-the-world voyage by Russian ships led by Faddei Bellinsgauzen and Mikhail Lazarev, as well as 50 years of Russian research in Antarctica.
The ship, with 121 marine cadets on board, covered over 34,400 nautical miles and visited 19 countries.
Argument with a bear over food
KRASNOYARSK, Russia — A man in East Siberia was injured after “arguing’’ with a bear over food supplies, a Russian emergencies ministry spokesman said.
The bear approached a camp in the Krasnoyarsk Territory where a group of vacationers were staying late. Upon seeing the bear, the campers ran away from their tents and returned later to see the animal eating their food.
One of them, a 35-year-old man from the nearby town of Minusinsk, started to shout at the animal and tried to get his food back.
Instead of relinquishing the food, however, the bear struck the man three times before leaving the camp.
The man suffered a broken arm and other injuries.
Leader of doomsday sect gets shrink
PENZA, Russia — A court in central Russia ordered the leader of a doomsday sect that recently spent more than six months underground waiting for the apocalypse to undergo compulsory psychiatric treatment.
“The defendant (Pyotr Kuznetsov) will not be responsible for the crimes he committed when mentally ill. The court has ordered compulsory treatment for him in a psychiatric ward,” Judge Maria Smyslova said.
The judge said that 44-year-old Kuznetsov had urged his followers in the Penza region, about 370 miles southeast of Moscow, to burn their passports, as they “contain the number of the Beast,” and incited hatred of other religions and nationalities.
The decision means that charges of “creating a violent organization’’ earlier brought against Kuznetsov, who is being held in the Penza psychiatric asylum where he has been kept since last year, are dropped.
Boiling water kills fish
YEKATERINBURG, Russia — Large numbers of sturgeon and carp died after a power station spilled boiling water into Iset Lake in Russia’s Urals, the head of the affected fish farm said.
“The fish were boiled in the lake due to the release of hot water from the Mid-Urals Power Plant,” Vyacheslav Karimov said.
The farmer said the fish deaths have cost his business $3 million and that it will take five or six years to restore the fish population.
However, Sverdlovsk Region’s environmental regulators said the plant had not breached any laws.
“Iset Lake is used as cooling water for the plant,” a spokesperson said. “It seems that businessman have chosen the wrong place for fish farming.”
Captain admitted squid poaching
VLADIVOSTOK, Russia — Russian costal guards have detained a North Korean vessel in the Sea of Japan on suspicion of poaching in Russia’s economic zone, a spokesman for Russia’s Federal Security Service said.
The vessel had nearly four metric tons of squid onboard.
“The captain of the vessel admitted squid poaching in Russia’s exclusive economic zone,” the spokesman said. “He was unable to produce permission for crossing Russia’s maritime border and fishing in its waters.”
Stuffed animal saves girl’s life
NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia — A large, cuddly toy helped a 3-year-old girl survive a fall from a fifth-floor apartment in Russia’s southwest Urals, a police spokesperson said.
“The girl, who was left on her own by the adults for just a minute, crawled onto a window sill and fell from the opened window after losing her balance,” the spokesperson said.
The child, who lives in Ufa, the capital of Bashkortostan, landed right on top of the soft toy, which she had been holding tightly, the spokesperson said.
The girl was hospitalized with a stomach injury, but her condition was not considered dangerous.
Karadzic to deny genocide charges
BELGRADE, Serbia — Radovan Karadzic will aim to prove at the Hague tribunal that no genocide took place in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that fatality figures were deliberately exaggerated, a Serbian paper said.
The Srebrenica massacre, where up to 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were killed by Serb forces in 1995, is one of two main charges facing the former Bosnian Serb leader, who was transferred to The Hague-based tribunal after more than a decade on the run.
The Blic daily quoted Karadzic’s defense lawyer Goran Petronijevic as saying the defendant had outlined the defense strategy himself.
“The general defense strategy is to prove that war crimes could have taken place in Srebrenica, but not genocide, and that the number of victims among Muslims was deliberately overestimated in order to bring genocide charges. War crimes and genocide are different things,” Petronijevic told the paper.
Karadzic earlier said he would draw up his own defense at the Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, where he also faces war crimes charges. He will follow the example of former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. Milosevic died in jail in 2006 before his trial could be completed.
Karadzic’s lawyer in Belgrade, Svetozar Vujacic, was quoted by the paper as saying that at his trial Karadzic would not accuse former General Ratko Mladic — now the most wanted war-crimes suspect from the Balkan wars — over the Srebrenica massacre.
Vujacic said there is written proof backing up Karadzic’s claims, but that his defense will be impossible if his laptop and 50 discs seized during searches are not returned to him.
Scientists find oil fissure
NOVOSIBIRSK, Russia — Scientists have located a crack in the bedrock of Siberia’s Lake Baikal from which crude oil seeps into the lake, and have discovered a range of organisms living in the oil, an expedition member said.
Researchers, who are currently examining the processes through which microbes in the world’s deepest lake digest petroleum that naturally enters the water, conducted deep water dives to locate the oil source.
Dr. Mikhail Grachyov, an expert on the molecular evolution of Baikal’s animal and plant life, said the source was found at a depth of around 850 meters (2,800 feet) to the south of Barguzin Bay, and that samples of the oil had been taken.
“It turns out that a large number of organisms live in this oil. This will require a huge amount of study,” he told RIA Novosti.
“We will study everything — the oil, the means through which it is broken down, the microbes, physical characteristics, and so on. This is necessary both for fundamental science and for practical goals.”
Research into Baikal’s oil may provide new insights into the origins of petroleum, he said.
Baikal, a UNESCO World Heritage site, holds around 20 percent of the planet’s freshwater.
Russia postpones Thai satellite launch
MOSCOW — The launch of a converted RS-20 Voyevoda intercontinental ballistic missile due to put a Thai earth observation satellite into orbit has been postponed once again, a launch company spokesperson said.
The launch, due to take place from a silo in the southern Urals, was postponed as the launch company, Kosmotras, is still waiting for permission from Kazakhstan. During the launch, rocket parts will fall on Kazakh territory.
Russian and Kazakh specialists are currently holding talks to try to reach an agreement about the launch.
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