Philippine leader warns public of dangers during papal visit

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Updated 12 January 2015

Philippine leader warns public of dangers during papal visit

MANILA: President Benigno Aquino urged the Philippine people on Monday to be alert against panic, stampedes or any attempts to sow chaos during this week’s visit by Pope Francis.
Aquino said the large number of people trying to see or get close to the pontiff could be a source of danger, even to Pope Francis himself.
He cited the millions expected to attend the mass which the pope will say in Manila’s central park on Sunday.
“There is no doubt that in a large gathering like this, there is a possibility of chaos even without the threat of terrorism, and an even greater possibility if someone plans to cause chaos,” Aquino said in a televised message.
“This shows the danger and the threat when so many participate in these events.”
Citing previous attacks against Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict, he urged the public not to impede Pope Francis’s convoy.
“If someone blocks the convoy by trying to get near the holy father and the convoy stops, what was a moving target becomes a stationary target,” he said.
“I ask you, do you want history to record that a tragedy involving the pope happened in the Philippines?” he asked the population of the largely Catholic nation.
Aquino warned that even one person breaking the security cordon could trigger a stampede, saying “There might be some people who may want to get a ‘selfie’ (with the pope).”
National police carried out a “dry run” to prepare for the pope’s arrival in the country on Thursday, his first visit to Asia’s bastion of Catholicism.
Security will be a major issue throughout the pontiff’s Asia trip, but Philippine Church officials have said he will not travel in a bulletproof “popemobile” because he wants to be closer to his flock.
Organizers say cellphone signals may be blocked and have called on the public not to bring backpacks to the mass.
Traffic enforcers will be equipped with adult diapers to ensure they do not leave their posts.
Although officials have said there is no reported terror threat against Pope Francis, they are on alert for any attempt to disrupt his visit.
In the past, the Philippines has been hit by numerous bomb attacks blamed on Muslim extremists, although these usually take place in the south.


Thailand’s lost baby dugong dies from shock, eating plastic

Updated 30 min 36 sec ago

Thailand’s lost baby dugong dies from shock, eating plastic

  • Marium, the female baby dugong had already lost her mother when she was initially found
  • Biologists tried saving her, but they believe she died of a combination of the plastic and shock

BANGKOK: An 8-month-old dugong nurtured by marine experts after it was found lost near a beach in southern Thailand has died of what biologists believe was a combination of shock and ingesting plastic waste, officials said Saturday.
The female dugong — a large ocean mammal — was named “Marium” and became a hit in Thailand after images of biologists embracing and feeding her with milk and seagrass spread across social media. Veterinarians and volunteers had set out in canoes to feed Marium up to 15 times a day while also giving her health checks.
Last week, she was found bruised after being chased and supposedly attacked by a male dugong during the mating season, said Jatuporn Buruspat, director-general of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources.
She was brought in for treatment in the artificial sea on Libong Island in Krabi province.
“We assume she wandered off too far from her natural habitat and was chased and eventually attacked by another male dugong, or dugongs, as they feel attracted to her,” Jatuporn said Saturday.
An autopsy showed a big amount of plastic waste in her intestine, which could also have played a part in her death as it led to gastritis and blood infection, he said.
“She must have thought these plastics were edible,” Jatuporn said.
The dugong is a species of marine mammal similar to the American manatee and can grow to about 3.4 meters (11 feet) in length. Its conservation status is listed as vulnerable.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-arcpha said Marium’s death saddens the whole nation and the world.
“Her death will remind Thais and people all over the world not to dispose trash into the oceans,” Varawut said at a news conference.