Tourists flock to sacred Uluru site before climb ban, leave mounds of trash behind

Chris Jackson/Getty Images(SYDNEY) -- Australia's landmark sandstone, considered a site of "great spiritual significance," has been turned into something of a trash heap as tourists flock in droves trying to beat the upcoming climbing ban.

Tourists who have made their way to Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, before it officially shuts climbing down on Oct. 26 came under fire for their treatment of the land, specifically what some described as their dismissal of Indigenous wishes and the trails of trash left behind.

The ban at Uluru, located at the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Petermann, comes after repeated requests from the Indigenous Anangu people asking visitors not to climb it -- requests that have been largely ignored.

Previously, the climb was not strictly prohibited but visitors were asked to respect the local law and culture by not climbing Uluru.

The landscape is considered a “deeply sacred place” with “great spiritual significance” to the Anangu people, according to the country’s official Northern Territory website.

Jacob Gaut, 28, of Melbourne, recently visited the national park and was shocked to see a “large number of tourists” ignoring signs asking people not to climb

“Instead of climbing, we chose to take the Base of Uluru walk which is about a 10 km circuit walk, which was a great was to take in the beauty and immensity of the rock,” Gaut wrote ABC News via email, describing a roughly 6.2 mile walk.

“We chose to respect the wishes of the traditional owners,” he added.

Gaut said that along the way, he spotted mounds of trash.

“We saw a lot of rubbish left around,” he said. “General food rubbish on the sides of the roads leading up to and away from the actual rock.”

Other uncouth behavior Gaut detailed in his email included bikers riding up the sides of the rock, tourists taking photos in areas where photography is not permitted, and visitors touching rock paintings.

“Judging by the disrespect witnessed at the Rock, this [climbing] ban can't come quick enough,” he added.

The National Parks Conservation Association warned of the dangers of leaving behind trash, specifically noting the lasting impact it can have on the environment and its inhabitants.

“Litter isn’t just ugly to encounter on the trail — it can become a serious issue for wildlife, especially food waste,” association officials wrote in a blog post in April 2019.

“Many species will become desensitized to humans if they become accustomed to finding half-eaten sandwiches and candy bars in populated areas," the officials continued in the post. "When bears, coyotes and other animals see people as food sources, it can cause wildlife to become less afraid and more likely to approach humans, creating potentially dangerous situations.”

Uluru is home to 21 mammal species, 178 bird species, 73 reptile species and thousands of spiders, ants and other bugs.

Visitors are advised to follow the "pack it in, pack it out" mantra when visiting all national parks, association spokeswoman Kati Schmidt told ABC News

The rock stands at 2,831 feet tall. Geologists estimate its formation began around 550 million years ago.

Tourists are urged against climbing it not just out of respect for the Anangu people but also for safety reasons.

“Some people have died while attempting to climb Uluru, while many others have been injured,” according to Northern Territory's website.

The site encourages visitors to take in the “mighty rock” by embarking on the base walk.

“This is the best way to fully appreciate the natural and cultural beauty of Uluru,” according to the site.

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American scientist murdered in Crete fought for her life, police say

Marka/Getty Images(LONDON) -- The American scientist found murdered on the Mediterranean island of Crete fought for her life against an attacker armed with a knife, according to a police source who spoke to ABC News on the condition of anonymity due to the ongoing investigation.

Evidence of Suzanne Eaton's struggle, according to the police source, is based on substantial knife wounds to her body that were discovered during a forensic examination.

The wounds were described as "defensive" in nature.

"We can securely say that this was a homicide, a criminal act," Coroner Antonis Papadomanolakis told Greece's ANT1 News. The process of identifying the body took a long time and could only be completed through the use of "forensic odontology carried out by a dentist," Papadomanolakis said.

The coroner also told a local media outlet that "something complicated happened" regarding her death.

"Her death was not immediate," he said. "It is not like in a shooting. There was duration involved."

Police investigators confirmed to ABC News that they have taken DNA samples from "at least one suspect" and possibly more.

Police sources told ABC News they have questioned at least ten people about their whereabouts on the day Eaton went missing, and said they are also looking at specific types of cars and searching for knives and other weapons that could have been used in the killing.

Eaton, who was on the island for a scientific conference, is believed to have gone for a run near her hotel nearly two weeks ago when she went missing. Police said she was found dead on Tuesday, about six miles from her hotel, by two local men exploring a network of tunnels in an abandoned bunker that had been carved out of the rock by Nazi troops during World War II.

Nikos Papaleonidas of Greece's disaster management unit said the warren of interconnecting passageways inside the bunker had been constructed by German troops to protect them from air raids.

"We arrived at the entrance of the cave escorted by the police," Papaleonidas said. "After walking through tunnels and rambling routes, we finally arrived" at Eaton's body.

Police sources tell ABC News that they are still not certain where Eaton was killed. They say they have broadened their investigation to search for farmhouses and other remote buildings where the attacker might have held Eaton before transferring her to the tunnels.

Eaton, a highly respected molecular biologist at the world-renowned Max Planck Institute in Dresden, Germany, was attending a conference in the town of Chania when she was reported missing on July 2.

The 59-year-old was described as a strong athlete and an avid runner with a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Police sources told ABC News that they believe her killer is physically very strong, and that they are on the lookout for any suspects showing traces of recent fighting.

Coroners have finished their forensic examination of Eaton's body, and her remains have been handed over to relatives who came to the island in the wake of her disappearance, according to Crete police spokeswoman Eleni Papathanassiou.

Her remains will be returned to the United States for burial.

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Trump administration weighs penalties on Turkey for delivery of Russian missile system

Turkey National Defense Ministry/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Trump administration has yet to respond to Turkey's decision to accept delivery of a Russian missile defense system that will cut Ankara out of the F-35 fighter program and could trigger economic sanctions.

On Friday morning, video showed Russian planes unloading parts of the S-400 missile defense system in Turkey. For months, U.S. officials have warned Turkey -- a NATO ally -- that the Russian system is incompatible with and provides a security risk to the F-35 program, and that Turkey would be removed from the program should they choose to purchase the S-400.

Turkey also faces possible U.S. sanctions over purchasing Russian defense equipment under a law Congress passed in 2017 to force President Donald Trump's hand to be tougher on Moscow -- sanctions that Trump would not commit to imposing two weeks ago when meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Pentagon announced on Friday morning that it would hold an on-camera briefing to discuss its response, but that briefing was delayed until the Pentagon told reporters it had been "postponed indefinitely."

Prior to his meeting with Uzbekistan's defense minister, Acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters on Friday the department was aware of Turkey taking the delivery of the missile defense system.

"Our position regarding the F-35 has not changed," he said. "I will speak with my Turkish counterpart Minister Akar this afternoon. So there will be more to follow after this conversation."

A U.S. defense official said that conversation between Esper and Akar lasted 30 minutes, with the S-400 delivery one of several topics of discussion. The Pentagon will not provide a readout of the call, but a Turkish readout reportedly said Akar called for a U.S. delegation to be urgently sent to Ankara next week to continue dialogue.

Top Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committee released a joint statement Friday afternoon, urging Trump to "fully implement sanctions as required by law" against Turkey for accepting the S-400. They also urged the Pentagon "to proceed with the termination of Turkey's participation in the F-35 program."

"It did not have to come to this. But unfortunately, President Erdogan rejected multiple attempts by the United States to preserve our strategic relationship," said Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and Jack Reed (D-RI).

"Lasting improvement to our cooperation will not be possible as long as President Erdogan remains fixated on deepening ties with Vladimir Putin at the expense of the economic prosperity of Turkey and the security of the NATO alliance," the statement added.

But when Trump was asked two weeks ago at the G-20 whether he would sanction Turkey over the S-400, he said it was a "complicated deal."

"We're working on it," the president said. "We'll see what we can do."

Trump has backed Erdogan in blaming the Obama administration for refusing to sell Turkey the U.S. Patriot missile defense system, which Trump argued forced Ankara to turn to Russia instead.

"It's a mess. It's a mess, and honestly, it's not really Erdogan's fault," Trump said at the G-20. "I think he was unfairly treated."

But that claim "is not true," said Risch, a Trump ally and top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In 2013 in particular, he added, Turkey "had many opportunities to purchase our Patriot missiles over many years."

Morgan Ortagus, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said Tuesday that Turkey "will face real and negative consequences if they accept the S-400," including economic sanctions.

Months into Trump's term, Congress passed a law to sanction Russia, along with North Korea and Iran, for its 2016 election interference. The president, under political pressure for cozying up to Putin in Germany that July, begrudgingly signed.

Among other requirements, the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) required the administration to sanction any country that purchased equipment from a list of Russian defense or intelligence agencies or firms.

The law has only been used once, against China's defense procurement agency, which purchased Russian fighter jets and missiles systems. But the State Department has repeatedly warned that Turkey will face similar sanctions for its S-400 purchase.

The State Department did not respond to requests for comment Friday on whether it would implement sanctions.

Turkey will also be economically impacted from its loss of the F-35 program.

More than 900 parts found inside the F-35 are built in Turkey, as part of the original international consortium agreement for American allies to develop the F-35. About 400 of those parts, found in the aircraft's landing gear and central fuselage, are exclusively made by Turkish manufacturers.

Pentagon officials have already been looking to make arrangements to find alternate production facilities in other countries by early 2020.

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Vatican opens tombs, but mystery deepens surrounding 1983 disappearance of teen Emanuela Orlandi

Travel Wild/iStock(ROME) -- During the summer of 1983, a teenager named Emanuela Orlandi vanished in Rome.

Over the years, there have been many false starts on her whereabouts as her family doggedly searched for her.

In March, there was a glimmer of hope, when Orlandi's family received a bizarre tip from unnamed people that the girl's remains could be in a Vatican cemetery ‘’where an angel was pointing."

Surprisingly, the Vatican agreed to open two tombs at the Teutonic Cemetery, which dates to the 1800s.

Searchers not only didn't find Emanuela's bones -- unexpectedly, they found no remains at all.

Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican employer, disappeared 36 years ago after attending a music lesson in the center of Rome and since then her family has determinedly continued to search for her.

Her brother, Pietro Orlandi -- a young man at the time of her disappearance -- has led the family’s constant push to find the truth about his sister's disappearance, pursuing multiple false leads, anonymous letters, conspiracy theories and supposed sightings in far off countries.

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

Spurred on by the endless media fascination with this story, her brother has insisted repeatedly over the years that the Vatican could do more to help in solving the mystery. Vatican officials, however, have always denied any involvement with or knowledge of Emanuela’s disappearance.

The two tombs exhumed on Thursday -- a development praised by the family -- belonged to two German princesses who lived in the 1800’s.

Prior to this morning’s work, Vatican officials had said that DNA tests were to be carried out on the bones found and the results would be known in a number of weeks. However, that was before the Vatican-appointed forensic anthropologist and the small group of about 15 people present --including Pietro Orlandi and the family’s lawyer -- discovered that the two tombs contained no bones.

The Vatican issued a statement after this morning’s work at the cemetery had concluded saying that the "research had given negative results: no human findings or funerary urns were found…..the family members of the two Princesses were informed of the results of the research.’’

Speaking to reporters outside Vatican City, Pietro Orlandi said he had not expected to find the tombs completely empty and again called on anyone who knows the truth about his sister to come forward.

Vatican officials are now studying documents about the cemetery to try to ascertain structural changes that were made in the 19th century and between the 1960’s and 70’s and when the bones of the two princesses may have been removed.

This morning’s Vatican statement ends by saying that the Vatican ‘has always shown attention and closeness to the suffering of the Orlandi family and in particular to Emanuela’s mother.’

Emanuela’s mother still lives within Vatican City.

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South Korean news anchor resigns after allegation of photo taken without consent

nigelcarse/iStock(SEOUL, South Korea) -- South Korea continues to be rocked by sex crimes allegations as two television figures face claims of misconduct.

A prominent South Korean news anchor has been booked without detention for allegedly taking pictures of a woman's "lower-half body" in a subway station without her consent. Anchor Kim Sung-joon resigned from all of his programs at Seoul Broadcasting System as a series of spy-cam related crimes by celebrities have rocked the nation.

Kim was arrested at the scene as he allegedly attempted to take pictures of a woman at the Yeongdeung-po subway station on July 3. An eyewitness warned the alleged victim she was being photographed, and she called police.

"Police requested a digital forensic investigation on Kim's mobile phone, to follow the regular procedure," Kim Jae-jeong, an officer at Yeongdeungpo Police station in Seoul, confirmed to ABC News. The forensics team is investigating whether there are more photographs that may have been illegally acquired.

After resigning from SBS on Monday, Kim sent a text message to acquaintances saying: "I apologize to the victim and family members who were offended because of me. I will attend the investigations with sincerity."

Kim began his career at SBS in 1991, anchored the evening news from 2016 to 2017 and hosted a current affairs radio show beginning in 2017.

He initially denied the allegations, but police found the alleged photograph on his mobile phone, according to a report by Yonhap News Agency.

Yeongdeungpo Police station confirmed this case was related to a former journalist but would not confirm additional details so as to protect the alleged victim.

The allegations against Kim come as the Seoul Metropolitan Government announced measures to protect citizens from becoming spy-camera victims. The city launched a spy-cam inspection team of 39 people to monitor hidden cameras in public bathrooms.

In South Korea, more than 6,000 crimes related to illegal filming were reported in 2017, a five-fold increase from 2010, according to the Korean National Police Agency.

This news comes as television actor Kang Ji-hwan was arrested for investigation on charges of sexual molestation Wednesday at his residence in Gwangju city, south of Seoul.

Police arrived and separated Kang from the two women who claimed to have been victims of sexual assault, according to Yonhap. He is accused of sexually molesting two women, who were contract workers helping out with his drama shoot schedules. At the police station, Kang claimed "he could not remember anything after drinking" and that "he woke up in the room the two women were sleeping."

Kang's agency Huayi brothers Entertainment Co., Ltd. said in a statement that Kang will cancel all schedules and sincerely attend investigations.

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British warship prevents Iranian attempt to order a British tanker into its waters: US officials

CIL868/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- A British warship prevented an apparent attempt by five Iranian small boats to direct a British oil tanker towards Iranian waters on Wednesday, according to two U.S. officials.

The incident is the first provocative action since Iranian officials warned of consequences after the United Kingdom seized an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar that was carrying Iranian oil to Syria in violation of international sanctions.

The United Kingdom flagged oil tanker British Heritage was in the eastern Persian Gulf on its way towards the Strait of Hormuz on Wednesday afternoon when it was approached by five small Iranian craft, said the two U.S. officials.

The Iranians radioed the British Heritage to change course and move towards Iranian territorial waters.

HMS Montrose, a British frigate, was five miles away monitoring the tanker's transit when the Iranian boats approached.

The British warship sped towards the tanker’s location and got in between the five Iranian boats and the British tanker, said the U.S. officials.

The crew of the Montrose radioed the Iranians to break off their contact, which they did. The Montrose then continued to escort the British Heritage on its route through the Strait of Hormuz.

The U.S. officials described the small Iranian craft as belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Iran's paramilitary force that routinely harasses shipping in the Persian Gulf area. The United States has also blamed the IRGC for being behind the mine attacks on several merchant ships off the coast of the United Arab Emirates in May and June.

“We are aware of the reports of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp Navy's FAC/FIAC harassment and attempts to interfere with the passage of the U.K.-flagged merchant vessel British Heritage today near the Strait of Hormuz," said Captain Bill Urban, a U.S. Central Command spokesperson.

"We refer you the U.K. Ministry of Defense for further information on this. Threats to international freedom of navigation require an international solution. The world economy depends on the free flow of commerce, and it is incumbent on all nations to protect and preserve this lynchpin of global prosperity," Urban added.

In the wake of the attack, Iranian officials had used bellicose language hinting at retaliation that culminated on Wednesday with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warning Britain there would be "consequences" for the seizure of the Iranian oil tanker.

On Tuesday, General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that the U.S. and its allies were continuing discussions about putting together a maritime coalition to protect commercial shipping in the Gulf region from any Iranian threats.

One proposal calls for commercial ships to be escorted by their country's Navy, while the United States military would provide situational awareness and coordination for coalition ships.

There have been heightened tensions between the United States and Iran since early May when an aircraft carrier and a bomber task force were dispatched to the Middle East to counter new intelligence that suggested Iran and its affiliated groups were planning attacks against U.S. interests in the region.

Two weeks ago, the tensions almost resulted in U.S. military airstrikes ordered by President Donald Trump against Iranian missile batteries that had shot down a Global Hawk reconnaissance drone.

President Trump canceled those airstrikes, saying the casualties they would have inflicted were not proportional to the shoot-down of the unarmed drone.

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Death of American scientist found in WWII bunker in Greece was result of a criminal act, authorities say

Biotechnology Center of the TU Dresden(NEW YORK) -- The death of an American scientist whose body was found in an abandoned World War II bunker in Greece is being investigated as a criminal act, according to local authorities.

Molecular biologist Suzanne Eaton, 59, was visiting the Greek island of Crete for a conference, but she vanished on July 2.

Greek police would not release any additional details.

Eaton's body was found in northwest Crete, about 7 miles from where she had been staying on the island, Vangelis Zacharioudakis, who led the search effort by the Hellenic Rescue Team, told ABC News on Tuesday.

Family and friends believe Eaton went for a run before she disappeared. Her colleagues described her as an avid runner, and her running shoes were the only items missing from her hotel room.

The World War II bunker is in an area where many tourist stay, said Konstantinos Beblidakis, the vice mayor of the local Platanias municipality, in a statement on Tuesday.

"There are many people going out there and especially tourists who go either by hiking or to go to the villas where they have rented rooms," Beblidakis said in a statement Tuesday. "It is an amphitheatrical area where many tourists pass by daily."

Eaton was a U.S. citizen and a research group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany.

Her colleagues described her as a "remarkable person" whose untimely death was "devastating."

"We have lost an immensely renowned scientist and a truly outstanding human being," Hans Muller-Steinhagen, rector of the TU Dresden, said in a statement Tuesday.

The Oakland, Calif., native is survived by her husband and two sons.

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Duchesses Kate and Meghan brings kids to watch Princes William and Harry play polo

Samir Hussein/WireImage(BERKSHIRE, England) -- The next generation of royals -- Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis and royal baby Archie – turned out in full force Wednesday to watch their dads, Princes William and Harry, compete at a charity polo match.

Archie's mom, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, was photographed holding her 2-month-old son and giving him a kiss on the head. It marks the first time Archie has been spotted publicly since Meghan and Prince Harry debuted him to the world in May, just days after his birth.

The last public photos of Archie were released just last week after his private christening.

Archie's cousins, George, 5, Charlotte, 4 and Louis, 1, joined their mom, Duchess Kate, to watch their dad, Prince William -- and their uncle, Harry -- play at the King Power Royal Charity Polo Day at Billingbear Polo Club in Berkshire, England.

The event marked the first time the cousins have been seen together publicly. William and Kate met their nephew, Archie, in mid-May at Harry and Meghan's Frogmore Cottage home in Windsor.

It also marks the third time in recent weeks that William and Kate's children have made appearances. The siblings attended Trooping the Colour last month and also joined their parents in May at the "Back to Nature" garden Kate helped design at the RHS Chelsea Flower show.

Meghan has been on maternity leave since Archie's birth, but stepped out for Trooping the Colour in June and made a private visit to Wimbledon last week to support her friend Serena Williams.

Harry and William are playing against each other in the charity match in honor of Leicester City chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who was killed in a helicopter crash last year.

The charity match will help raise money for charities supported by Harry and William, including the Invictus Games Foundation.

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UK ambassador to the US quits over leaked cables criticizing Trump

Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for Capitol File Magazine(LONDON) -- The U.K. ambassador to the United States has quit in the midst of a scandal caused by comments he made about President Donald Trump that were leaked to the British media.

In the leaked cables, Kim Darroch allegedly called Trump "inept" and "uniquely dysfunctional," according to a report from the Daily Mail published Sunday.

Ambassador Darroch announced his resignation after Trump dialed up his criticism of the diplomat on Tuesday, calling him "wacky" and "a very stupid guy."

In a letter to the U.K. Foreign Office announcing his resignation, Darroch said that the "current situation is making it impossible for me to carry out my role."

"Since the leak of official documents from this Embassy there has been a great deal of speculation surrounding my position and the duration of my remaining term as ambassador," he wrote. "I want to put an end to that speculation. The current situation is making it impossible for me to carry out my role as I would like. Although my posting is not due to end until the end of this year, I believe in the current circumstances the responsible course is to allow the appointment of a new ambassador."

In response to Darroch's letter, Sir Simon McDonald, Permanent Under Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said the former ambassador had been the target of a "malicious leak."

"I want to stress my deep appreciation for all you have done over the last four decades," he wrote. "In a series of demanding roles - including National Security Adviser and Permanent Representative to the European Union - you have loyally served the government of the day without fear or favour. We have been lucky to have you as a friend and colleague. You are the best of us."

Darroch had been dis-invited from a dinner Monday night with the president at the Treasury Department in honor of the emir of Qatar, according to a U.S. official. White House officials said this is an example of the kind of treatment Darroch will likely receive in the aftermath of the leak.

Prior to his resignation, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Theresa May said that Darroch retained the government's "full support."

May told the U.K. Parliament that she had spoken with Darroch Wednesday morning, and his resignation was a matter of "deep regret."

"I told him that it is a matter of deep regret the he felt it necessary to resign his position as ambassador to Washington," she said. May also seemed to give an implicit criticism of President Trump, referring to the importance of "defending out values and principles, particularly when they are under pressure."

On Tuesday, Boris Johnson, who is widely tipped to replace May as prime minister of the United Kingdom at the end of this month, refused to say whether Darroch would continue to serve as ambassador if he were in power.

Alan Duncan, a minister for the Foreign Office, told Sky News that Johnson had "thrown him under the bus" and that he was "absolutely livid."

Jeremy Hunt, the current Foreign Secretary and Johnson's rival contender in the race to become the next prime minister, said that he was "deeply saddened" to hear of Darroch's resignation.

"Deeply saddened to hear of the resignation of Sir Kim Darroch," Hunt posted in a tweet. "Standing up for Britain means standing up for the finest diplomats on the world. It should never have come to this."

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Dozens hospitalized after carbon monoxide leak at Winnipeg hotel

wsfurlan/iStock(WINNIPEG, Manitoba) -- More than 45 people have been hospitalized, over a dozen in critical condition, after a carbon monoxide leak at a hotel in central Canada.

The carbon monoxide leak originated in a boiler room at a Super 8 hotel in Winnipeg, Manitoba's capital and largest city. An automatic alarm was triggered, bringing the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service to the scene, Chief John Lane said at a press conference Tuesday.

There were 52 people at the hotel, including staff, and 46 were transported to local hospitals, with at least 15 in critical condition and five in unstable condition, Lane said. One dog was also removed from the hotel and treated by Winnipeg Animal Services.

The readings inside the hotel were 385 parts per million, according to the City of Winnipeg. A reading of over 150 to 200 parts per million can be fatal, according to the U.S. government's Consumer Protection Safety Commission.

"The crew immediately put on their [masks] and began evacuating the hotel," Lane said.

Officials said they do not believe any of the patients in the hospital are at risk of dying.

"I'm very happy to say none of the patients were requiring resuscitation," Lane said. "None of them were intubated or anything. But their carbon monoxide levels were such that they were in the critical category."

Manitoba Hydro Electric Energy and Natural Gas is investigating the cause of the CO gas leak.

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