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Tuesday
Jul162019

10,000 evacuated after massive fire disrupts Croatian music festival

STR/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- An estimated 10,000 people have been evacuated from a hip-hop festival on the Croatian island of Pag after a fire broke out in a nearby pine forest on Monday night.

Video posted on social media shows people running from the beach as flames were visible in the background.

"The wildfire at Fresh Island Festival right now is mad," one attendee tweeted. "Whole thing been locked off."

Police ordered revelers to leave the popular beach music festival as more than 60 fire fighters, along with 45 police officer and 22 vehicles were dispatched to try to bring the blaze under control, with strong Bora winds from the Adriatic Sea fanning the fire.

“It’s only after dawn, when three fire fighting planes were dispatched the fire was put under control,” a local police spokeswoman told ABC News. ”No one was injured in the fire or in the process of evacuation.”

Attendees were escorted to a nearby parking area to wait for shuttle buses to transport them to the nearest town of Novalja, but there was a long wait for the evacuees and festival organizers informed people that the main road to Novalja was closed due to the fire.

Some buses were later escorted through by police.

The road reopened on Tuesday morning as the fire was contaminated.

“I don’t know the exact time, maybe little after midnight you could see the smoke," one of the waiters on the nearby Zrce beach, who wishes to remain anonymous, told ABC News. "The fire was spreading really fast, flames were billowing as high as 25 meters. "There were a lot of people (attendees of the Fresh Island Festival). They did not panic. The guests behaved as if nothing was happening."

“The concert ended up in fire, literally! Around 2 a.m. the guests were told to evacuate," he added.

The three-day festival was due to end on Wednesday, and festival organizers have not yet announced if the “Fresh Island Festival” will continue.

"Rest assured we're doing everything we can to go ahead as planned to continue the parties,” the organizers posted.

"They are saying I can't perform," tweeted the British rapper Not3s, who, along with the American performer Tyga, was due to take to the main stage at 11 p.m. Monday. "I'm backstage been here since 12:30am.”

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Tuesday
Jul162019

Man arrested in murder of American biologist in Greece as new details emerge

Istimages/iStock(ATHENS, Greece) -- Greek police have arrested a suspect in the murder of an American scientist who was found dead in an abandoned World War II bunker on the island of Crete last week.

The unnamed suspect is a 27-year-old Greek man who was brought in for questioning Monday and was later arrested after he "confessed his crime," according to Maj. Gen. Constantinos Lagoudakis, director of Police General Directorate of Crete.

"He admitted his guilt and today he will be brought to justice," Lagoudakis said in a statement Tuesday.

The suspect claimed that he spotted Eaton during the afternoon of July 2 and, "motivated by sexual satisfaction," hit her twice with his car to stop her, according to Eleni Papathanassiou, a spokeswoman for Crete's police department.

The suspect claimed he put Eaton, who was apparently unconscious, in the trunk of his vehicle and drove to a shelter's ventilation drain, where he raped her and abandoned her there, according to Papathanassiou. He then blocked the entrance to the drain with a wooden palette and drove to a nearby graveyard where he "carefully cleaned" the trunk of his car, Papathanassiou said in a statement.

Papathanassiou told ABC News that the suspect is from the town of Kissamos, about 20 miles from the port city of Chania where Suzanne Eaton was staying. The suspect, whose father is a priest, lives with his wife and two small children in the village of Maleme, some 10 miles from Chania, according to Papathanassiou.

The man was detained just days after police obtained DNA evidence from nearly a dozen people who live nearby.

"Following the criminal proceedings, the perpetrator has been led to the District Prosecutor's Office, while awaiting the results of the forensic, clinical and toxicological results of the examinations," Papathanassiou said in a statement Tuesday.

A high-level police source who spoke to ABC News on the condition of anonymity said a security camera in the area where Eaton's body was found captured images of the suspect's vehicle, a key piece of evidence that ultimately led police to him.

The suspect initially told police he had not been in the area for over a month but eventually broke down during the interrogation and confessed, the source told ABC News. The man claimed he committed the murder and intentionally hit Eaton with his car, the source said.

Eaton, a 59-year-old molecular biologist and mother of two, was attending a conference in northwest Crete when she vanished on July 2. Eaton's running shoes were missing from her hotel room while all her other belongings remained there, leading her family and colleagues to believe she may have gone for a run.

Greek authorities, joined by volunteers and Eaton's loved ones, launched a large-scale search for her in the area, using dogs and helicopters. Her body was found on July 8 in the cave-like bunker, built by Nazis after they occupied Crete in 1941. Her cause of death was ruled a murder by asphyxiation, police said.

Eaton's body showed signs of "a violent criminal act and possibly sexual abuse," according to Lagoudakis.

She had "many broken ribs and face bones as well as multiple injuries to both hands," Papathanassiou said in her statement Tuesday.

Greek state coroner Antonis Papadomanolakis, who examined the body, told Greece's ANT1 News that "something complicated happened" during Eaton's death, stating that it was "not immediate" and "there was duration involved."

A police source told ABC News that Eaton fought for her life when she was attacked with someone with a knife. Her body had substantial injuries from a blade that was "defensive" in nature, the source said.

Investigators searched for men with muscular builds and the ability to overpower Eaton, who was an avid runner and had a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. They also requested data records from local mobile phone companies in hopes that they may identify the person or people who left Eaton's body in the bunker.

Police sources told ABC News they have discovered traces of blood at the site where they believe Eaton was killed. The site is about one mile from the Orthodox Academy of Crete in the village of Platanias, where Eaton was attending the conference.

Eaton, a native of Oakland, California, is survived by her husband and two sons. Her remains will be returned to the United States for burial.

Eaton was a research group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany. She was also a professor at the Biotechnology Center of the Technical University of Dresden in Germany, known as TU Dresden. Her colleagues there described her as "an outstanding and inspiring scientist, a loving spouse and mother, an athlete as well as a truly wonderful person beloved to us all."

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Tuesday
Jul162019

Ffordd Pen Llech road in Wales named 'world's steepest street'

Guinness World Records(LONDON) -- Locals from the sleepy town of Harlech, Wales, celebrated as they were awarded the rather niche accolade of having the "world's steepest street" Tuesday, with the honor going to Ffordd Pen Llech road.

The previous record holder was Baldwin Street in Dunedine, New Zealand, but after an extensive campaign by Harlech locals, Guinness World Records officially recognized Ffordd Pen Llech as the world's steepest street.

An independent surveyor concluded that the street's gradient was 37.45% on June 6 this year, which beat Baldwin Street's gradient of just 35%.

In order to qualify for the prestigious record, the street must be a "a public thoroughfare, fully paved and contain buildings running alongside the thoroughfare," according to Guinness World Records.

Harlech resident Gwyn Headley, who led the campaign for Ffordd Pen Llech to be recognized, said he felt "utter relief" to have finally won out.

"And jubilation!" he added, according to a press release. "Guinness World Records were ultra-specific in the criteria they demanded for Ffordd Pen Llech to qualify as the steepest street in the world, and although we were confident in meeting or exceeding nine of them, I was worried about the 10th. I feel sorry for Baldwin Street and the New Zealanders — but steeper is steeper."

Another local resident, Sarah Badham, who runs the town's Facebook page, said she realized Gwyn "was onto something" when he posted in the group suggesting the street may be the world's steepest.

"[I] decided to get behind him as did the whole community," she said, according to a Guinness World Records release. "As somebody who was born and raised here, I can't really say how special it is. It's amazing."

And Craig Glenday, the editor-in-chief of Guinness World Records, praised the intrepid spirit of the locals who did not give up on their dream.

"The local community in Harlech has shown sheer will-power in their quest to earn Ffordd Pen Llech the title," he said when announcing the award, per the records. "We know the anticipation has been building for quite some time now and I'm pleased to see the outcome has brought such joy to the residents. I hope Harlech enjoys the celebrations and that the new title brings lots of people to the beautiful town, to experience the world's steepest street for themselves!"

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Tuesday
Jul162019

UN Refugee Agency voices concerns about US asylum policy

BalkansCat/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The United Nations Refugee Agency says it is concerned about changes made to the asylum rules by the United States, which it says will endanger those in need of protection.

"We understand that the U.S. asylum system is under significant strain," UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Monday. "But...this measure...will put vulnerable families at risk. It will undermine efforts by countries across the region to devise the coherent, collective responses that are needed."

"This measure is severe and is not the best way forward," Grandi added.

The rule change implemented this week would make any individual who passed through another country and didn't seek asylum there ineligible for protection in the U.S. It does not take into consideration whether those transit countries would provide effective international protection.

Many refugees that arrive at the southern border of the U.S. are fleeing horrific violence at the hands of gangs, economic deprivation, or persecution.

Last month, the UNHCR called on the governments of countries in the Americas to meet urgently to develop and implement a coordinated regional response to the situation.

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Tuesday
Jul162019

Huge barrel jellyfish spotted off UK coast: 'I've never seen anything like it'

Dan Abbott(LONDON) -- A pair of lucky divers filmed their experience swimming with a "huge" barrel jellyfish off the coast of Cornwall in the U.K., describing the moment they came face-to-face with the marine giant as "breathtaking."

Biologist and wildlife presenter Lizzie Daly was diving off the coast of Falmouth, Cornwall, when underwater cinematographer Dan Abbott captured the image as part of Wild Ocean Week, a fundraising measure for the Marine Conservation Society.

The picture, taken from the Facebook video, shows Daly swimming just feet away from the barrel jellyfish.

Abbott told ABC News that the pair had dived with seals, Minke whales and sea birds throughout their week but swimming with the barrel jellyfish was a "humbling" experience.

"We estimate the jellyfish to be around 1.5 meters (5 feet) long, the same size as Lizzie," he said. "The feeling seeing a jellyfish that size was incredible. Neither of us had ever seen one that big before and it was a humbling and beautiful experience to be able to share its home for a few moments."

Daly has since said she is delighted with the response to the images, which have received global coverage from various media outlets.

"I started Wild Ocean Week with the intention of inspiring a wider audience about the wonderful nature on our doorstep," she posted on Facebook. "I wanted to show people that you really can see some pretty phenomenal things here in the UK and we should be celebrating it, protecting it, inspired by it!! Giant jellyfish you have done just that. So THANK YOU!! I feel humbled to have shared the same space as you."

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Tuesday
Jul162019

Penguins caught stealing sushi released from New Zealand police custody

Wellington District Police(LONDON) -- A pair of penguins have been released from police custody in New Zealand after being discovered hiding out in a sushi stand on Saturday.

The penguins, described as "waddling vagrants" by Constable John Zhu, were apprehended after receiving a report that the penguins had taken "refuge" at the stand on Featherston Street, Wellington.

Following a period of "temporary detainment," Wellington Police contacted New Zealand's chief governmental wildlife body, the Department of Conservation (DOC), and the penguins have now been taken into their care.

"Wellington's little blue penguins with a taste for sushi have been moved to a nesting box," the DOC posted on Twitter Tuesday. "Our rangers report that they seemed to like it and were making cooing noises which is a good sign."

Remarkably, the sushi-seeking penguins apprehended last weekend were not the first food-related penguin call Zhu received this week. Police received another call regarding a penguin taking refuge in a food stand near Wellington Rail Station Monday morning.

After "sensing something fishy," according to Wellington Police, Zhu discovered the nesting penguins. They were then released back into Wellington Harbour, with the assistance of the DOC and Wellington Zoo.

Little blue penguins, known locally as korora, are a protected species in New Zealand. Adult little blue penguins weigh around 2.2 pounds and grow to an average height of about 11.8 inches. Although they are spread widely along the New Zealand coast line, the population is declining and they are rarely seen during the daytime.

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Monday
Jul152019

Mystery of teen who vanished in Rome in 1980s, Emanuela Orlandi, takes another twist

Franco Origlia/Getty Images(ROME) -- Another twist was added to the already perplexing mystery and 36-year search for Emanuela Orlandi, the 15-year-old Italian girl who went missing in 1983 without a trace in the center of busy Rome.

The Vatican announced Saturday that following research and further investigation, two containers were found under a stone slab at the Teutonic Cemetery that could contain the missing bones of two 19th -century German princesses.

Last week, acting on a tip in the Orlandi case, Vatican officials opened two tombs belonging to two the noblewomen, but found no remains, either of the noblewomen or missing girl.

When the tombs turned up empty the Vatican recalled that there had been structural work done on the cemetery as recently as the 1960’s and 70’s, and suggested that perhaps the bones had been moved during this work.

The Vatican said the area and containers have been sealed until this coming weekend, when forensic experts, representatives of the Orlandi family, descendants of the German princesses and Vatican officials will gather to open them. Experts should be able to roughly date the bones in the first few hours but more extensive forensic tests could take up to 60 days.

The Orlandi family lawyer, Laura Sgro, told ABC News today that she and the family had been invited to the unsealing appointment Saturday. She said she thought it was "necessary that this be done as the remains of the two princesses has to be confirmed."

The Vatican has always denied its involvement in or knowledge of what happened to Emanuela, whose father was a Vatican employee. Vatican officials insist they do not have information to solve the mystery and maintain they have always been close to the family and always been supportive of them.

Theories have circulated in Italy for decades as to what may have happened to Emanuela and if she died, where her body may lie. Multiple false leads, anonymous letters, conspiracy theories and supposed sightings of Emanuela in distant countries have been pursued; none leading to anything concrete so far.

This is also not the first time tombs or possible burial sites have been exhumed in search of Emanuela’s remains. Last November, Roman prosecutors announced that bones found in annex to the Vatican’s Embassy to Italy were not Emanuela’s.

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Monday
Jul152019

Investigation underway at Heathrow Airport as boy boards plane to LA without ticket

pabst_ell/iStock(LONDON) -- A police investigation is underway at Heathrow, London’s biggest airport, after a 12-year-old boy managed to slip past security and board a plane headed to Los Angeles despite not having a ticket.

The British Airways cabin crew found the boy on board the aircraft on July 14 and asked to see his boarding pass.

The boy is believed to have been screened at airport security. Investigators, however, are looking into how he managed to bypass checks at the gate and board the plane.

“He was identified by cabin crew during pre-flight check. He did not have a ticket or any travel documents," a spokesman for Scotland Yard said. "The boy was an unaccompanied minor. He is not a UK national. As a security precaution, passenger de-planed following a discussion between police and the captain. The child is believed to have arrived at Heathrow as a transit passenger.”

According to passenger Rachel Richardson, the incident caused several hours of delays. She said she saw police with dogs arriving on the scene shortly after all passengers were escorted off the plane.

“So I survived my six hour wait at Heathrow but am now delayed on the tarmac because a young boy made his way onto our plane – BA269 – without a ticket," she tweeted. "Big security breach. So much fun for everyone on board. We were meant to take off at 4.15pm. It’s nearly 6pm.”

Passengers reported that the entire plane was screened by security again after the breach. The plane took off five hours after its original departure time.

British Airways said in a statement: “We have apologized to our customers for the delay to their flight after an issue during boarding. The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our top priority and everyone who had boarded the aircraft had been subject to security checks. We conducted additional precautionary screening as soon as this issue came to light and we are assisting the police with their inquiries.”

The Telegraph reported that the boy refused to leave the aircraft at first but was eventually removed from the plane by police officers who arrived to assist the British Airways flight crew.

A spokesperson for Heathrow Airport said in a statement, “We are working with our police colleagues and British Airways to understand how an unauthorized passenger boarded the incorrect aircraft. The individual did not represent a security risk and, purely as a precaution, the aircraft in question was re-screened and has since departed. We apologize for the disruption and will continue working closely with the authorities and our airline partners to keep the airport safe.”

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Monday
Jul152019

Alan Turing, legendary mathematician and WWII codebreaker, honored on new 50 pound note

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Mathematician and World War II codebreaker, Alan Turing, has been honored by the Bank of England as the new face of the 50 pound note.

Turing, who died at 41 in 1952, was best known for helping to defeat Nazi Germany by cracking their codes at Bletchley Park, the top-secret facility in the U.K. known as the “Home of the Codebreakers.”

Despite his tremendous contributions to computer science and his role in the war effort, Turing was later arrested and charged under a British law that criminalized homosexuality. As part of a deal to avoid prison time, Turning agreed to hormone therapy, which was in effect a form of chemical castration. He died on June 7, 1954, in what is widely considered a suicide by eating an apple poisoned with cyanide.

Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, said that Turing was chosen to be on the 50 pound note because he was “an outstanding mathematician whose works had an enormous impact on how we live today.”

“As the father of computer science and artificial intelligence, Alan Turing’s contributions were far-ranging and path-breaking,” Carney said. “His genius lay in a unique ability to link the philosophical and the abstract with the practical and the concrete. All around us his legacy continues to build.”

Turing's exploits during World War II were the subject of the 2014 movie The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley.

Aside from his codebreaking, Turing was known for his work inventing the "Turing Machine," a theoretical computational device that is considered one of the foundations of computer science.

In 1950, he devised a test for artificial intelligence based on whether or not people can detect if they are conversing with computer instead of a human. In order to pass, a computer must be mistaken for a human by 30 percent of judges during a series of five-minute keyboard conversations.

Turing was posthumously pardoned by Queen Elizabeth II in 2013.

He is the first openly LGBTQ figure from British history to make an appearance on a Bank of England note.
 
John Leech, a former lawmaker from the Liberal Democrat Party who campaigned extensively for Turing's posthumous pardon, expressed his delight on Twitter about the decision to honor Turing.

"Very emotional seeing this for the first time today -- genuinely over the moon that Turing has been chosen as the face of the £50 note. A massive acknowledgement of his mistreatment and unprecedented contribution to society," Leech tweeted.

Some of the U.K.’s most senior institutions and lawmakers celebrated the news, lamenting the tragedy Turing endured during his lifetime, while celebrating the move to honor his legacy.

GCHQ, the U.K. government’s premier intelligence and security agency, said they were delighted that Turing had been chosen.

"Turing was the father of modern computing, a pioneer in #artificialintelligence and instrumental in the breaking of Enigma @bletchleypark during #WWII#Turing50," the agency wrote.

Ed Davey, a prominent lawmaker for the Liberal Democrat Party, applauded the decision, and lamented the tragic end for the British hero.

“Right we honour Alan Turing -- a brilliant man & national hero whose mistreatment is a stain on our history. We must never again allow such injustice,” Davey tweeted.

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Monday
Jul152019

Ebola case confirmed in Congolese city of Goma, home to over two million

Cesare Ferrari/iStock(LONDON) -- The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has spread to the city of Goma, a major transportation hub along the Rwandan border that's home to more than two million people.

The confirmed Ebola case in Goma was announced late Sunday by the Democratic Republic of the Congo's health ministry. The patient, a 46-year-old pastor from South Kivu province, was admitted to an Ebola treatment center in Goma, but then transferred to one in Butembo on Monday morning, according to a statement from the health ministry.

It's the first Ebola case to be confirmed in Goma since the ongoing outbreak began nearly a year ago. The city, located on the nation's eastern border with Rwanda, is the bustling capital of North Kivu province, one of the two affected provinces in the epidemic. It receives a large number of travelers from across the country and the greater region.

The World Health Organization, the global health arm of the United Nations, has decided three times not to declare the current outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, which would mobilize more resources and command global attention.

However, the WHO's director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the identification of a confirmed case in Goma "could potentially be a game-changer in the epidemic" and he would reconvene the emergency committee as soon as possible to reassess the situation.

"Just when we start to get control of the virus in one area, it appears in another," Ghebreyesus said at a press conference Monday at the United Nations office in Geneva.

The pastor traveled from Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu province, to Butembo, a city in North Kivu province, on July 4 for an evangelical mission, passing through Goma on the way. While in Butembo, which is a major hot spot in the Ebola outbreak, the pastor delivered sermons at seven churches where he laid his hands on worshipers, including those who were sick, according to the country's health ministry.

The pastor began showing signs of illness on July 9 when he was still in Butembo. He was cared for by a nurse until he left by bus for Goma on Friday. The bus went through three health checkpoints en route to Goma, during which the pastor did not appear to show symptoms of Ebola. He gave different names at each checkpoint, possibly "indicating his desire to hide his identity and state of health," the health ministry said in a statement.

Upon arriving in Goma on Sunday morning, the pastor checked into a health center, feeling ill with a fever. No other patients were in the health center at the time, according to the health ministry.

The health center staff recognized the symptoms of Ebola and immediately alerted the response teams in Goma, who transferred the pastor to the city's Ebola treatment center. A laboratory test came back positive Sunday afternoon, according to the health ministry.

"It is important that people keep calm," the country's health minister, Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga, said in a statement Sunday night. "Due to the speed with which the patient has been identified and isolated, as well as the identification of all bus passengers coming from Butembo, the risk of spreading into the rest of the city of Goma remains low. However, caution remains."

Although officials expressed alarm at the confirmation of Ebola in Goma, the Congolese health ministry and the WHO said they have been preparing for this for months. Since November, more than 3,000 health workers in Goma have been vaccinated for Ebola and trained in the detection and management of Ebola patients. The Ebola treatment center in Goma has been up and running since February, health officials said.

A total of 2,489 people have reported symptoms of hemorrhagic fever in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's northeastern provinces of North Kivu and Ituri since ‪Aug. 1, 2018. Among those cases, 2,395 have tested positive for Ebola virus disease, which causes an often-fatal type of hemorrhagic fever, according to the latest bulletin from the country's health ministry.

The current outbreak has a case fatality rate of about 67%. There have been 1,665 deaths so far, including 1,571 people who died from confirmed cases of Ebola. The other deaths are from probable cases, according to the health ministry.

Two people, including a 5-year-old boy, who tested positive for Ebola after traveling home to neighboring Uganda have also died, according to the Ugandan health ministry. The boy was the first cross-border case in the ongoing outbreak.

Since Aug. 8, more than 161,400 people have been vaccinated against Ebola in the outbreak zone in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, using an experimental vaccine developed by American pharmaceutical company Merck.

This is the 10th outbreak of Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the most severe seen in the Central African nation since 1976, when scientists first identified the virus near the eponymous Ebola River. It's also one of the worst outbreaks ever, second only to the 2014-2016 epidemic in multiple West African countries that infected 28,652 people and killed 11,325, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At Monday's press conference, the WHO's director-general described the current outbreak as "even more complicated" than the West African epidemic, due to the region's violence and insecurity, sporadic attacks on health workers, a highly mobile population, political instability, community mistrust and misinformation.

"All of these challenges make this outbreak one of the most complex humanitarian emergencies any of us have ever faced," Ghebreyesus told reporters, noting that the risk of spread within the country and in the region remains "very high."

It's the first Ebola outbreak in history to occur in an active war zone. The WHO has recorded at least 198 attacks on health facilities and health workers in the region since January.

"We are dealing with one of the world's most dangerous viruses in the one of the world's most dangerous areas," Ghebreyesus said. "Every attack sets us back."

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