January 24, 2013

An Antarctic cruise ship tours the coast of the frozen wasteland.     Photo: Liam Quinn/Flickr

Cruise Ship Denies Naval Rescue in Antarctic Waters

Cruise company denies it happened

The British Royal Navy issued a press release on Tuesday that the HMS Protector, an icebreaker that patrols the Antarctic coast, had saved a Norwegian cruise ship, the MS Fram, after it became trapped in sea ice last week. Trouble is, the cruise company, Hurtigruten, says that no rescue occurred.

According to the navy's version of events, the cruise ship had been following the icebreaker through gaps in the pack ice when it became surrounded by fast moving floes up to 13 feet thick. In about two hours the Fram was released and led away safely.

"This is what we do in the Ice Patrol Ship, we are the Royal Navy's equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife—red, versatile, and always there when you need us," said Captain Peter Sparkes, commanding officer of the HMS Protector. Besides knife brand loyalty, Sparkes added that this is a "clear demonstration of the Royal Navy's global reach and operational preparedness."

The BBC reported the sensational story along with other news outlets on Tuesday, but in an email Hurtigruten spokesman Elliot Gillies denied the British version of the events. "Our reports state that HMS Protector was sailing in the area and they offered assistance to MS Fram so that the ship could sail to Brown Bluff," he said. "The ship was therefore escorted in and out of Brown Bluff by HMS Protector."

Via International Business Times

0 Comments

    Photo: Liam Quinn/Flickr

Search for Missing Plane in Antarctica

Rescue attempt with locator beacon

Three Canadian men aboard a Twin Otter plane went missing while flying from the South Pole to Terra Nova Bay in Antarctica on Wednesday. The aircraft’s emergency locator transmitter was activated around 10 p.m. local time, but rough weather and heavy cloud cover hindered a rescue operation.

Conditions cleared enough on Thursday for New Zealand authorities to send out a search plane:

Today MNZ said a Twin Otter set off from McMurdo about 4.30 a.m. with the aim of flying over the beacon's transmission site, which was at an elevation of about 4,000 meters, in the hope of being able to see what was on the ground.

MNZ spokesman Steve Rendle said weather conditions had moderated to the extent the search plane was able to fly to the site, but helicopters were still not able to make the trip.

"So things are improving and we hope they continue to," he said.

The intention was that after the search plane had flown over the transmitter it would try to land at a site about 50km from the beacon's location. It was also hoped to get helicopters to that site and operate them from it.

According to Huffington Post Canada, the missing plane’s pilot has been confirmed as "Bob Heath, the 'star pilot' of Calgary's go-anywhere airline Kenn Borek."

0 Comments

    Photo: Xuankar/Wikimedia Commons

Vuelta Doping Chaperone Arrested

Linked to drug factory raid

A Vuelta a España doping chaperone and former professional cyclist has been arrested by Spanish police under suspicion of involvement in a scheme to manufacture performance-enhancing drugs.

José Luis Martinez was a member of the Comunitat Valenciana cycling team until 2006, when he quit after being implicated in the Operation Puerto doping bust.

Police investigated Martinez because of apparently suspicious behaviour in his role as a doping chaperone at the Vuelta a España over the past two years.

The chaperone’s role is to notify riders of their drug tests, escort them to the test facility and watch them provide a sample.

The arrest comes after a raid on a factory by police in Murcia found evidence of a doping ring manufacturing steroids, clenbuterol, testosterone, and plasma.

Another cyclist snared in Operation Puerto, Thomas Dekker, said that he would give a complete confession to the Netherlands' doping authority. "All [those details], including the names of people who helped me [to dope], will be given to the anti-doping authority," he told The Telegraph. The trial of Operation Puerto defendants Eufemiano Fuentes, José Luis Merino Batres, and Manolo Saiz is scheduled to start on Monday.

Via The Telegraph

0 Comments

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

15,000 Crocodiles Escape South Africa Farm

Enter the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River

In what is sure to become a SyFy Channel original movie, 15,000 crocodiles have escaped from the Rakwena Crocodile Farm in northeastern South Africa (Acrocalypse!) and are running amok in the surrounding area. The Nile crocodiles, the largest species of freshwater crocodile on earth, escaped when unusually heavy rains caused the nearby Limpopo River to overflow. The farm’s owner, Johan Boshoff, had opened the pens to allow the floodwaters to drain away without damaging the structure.

Boshoff’s son-in-law and farm employee Zane Langman reported that they have recaptured “a few thousand” of the animals, but the majority remain on the loose. One was even spotted on the rugby field of a local school. “There used to be only a few crocodiles in the Limpopo River,” Langman added. “Now there are a lot.”

Though no injuries have been reported yet, animal safety authorities have warned locals to remain indoors if possible and not to approach the occasionally-man-eating reptiles if spotted.

0 Comments

Comments