March 18, 2019

A marine biologist in the Philippines made a startling discovery last week during the autopsy of a young Cuvier's beaked whale.

Darrell Blatchley found 88 pounds of plastic inside the whale's stomach, "compact to the point that its stomach was literally as hard as a baseball," he told NPR. "That means that this animal has been suffering not for days or weeks but for months or even a year or more." Blatchley, based in Davao, drove two hours to see the whale, which was found alive but vomiting blood. The whale died a few hours later.

Blatchley said the whale's stomach contained 16 rice sacks and plastic bags from local grocery store chains. Over the last decade, 57 whales and dolphins within the Davao Gulf have "died due to man," Blatchley said, "whether they ingested plastic or fishing nets or other waste, or gotten caught in pollution — and four were pregnant." So far this year, three whales or dolphins have been found by Blatchley and his team with plastic in their systems.

The U.N. Environment Program says that about nine million tons of plastic winds up in the ocean every year, and the Ocean Conservancy found in 2017 that more than half of all that garbage comes from the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and China. Blatchley told NPR he hopes the most recent whale death will bring attention to this crisis. "If we keep going this way, it will be more uncommon to see an animal die of natural causes than it is to see an animal die of plastic," he said. Catherine Garcia

February 2, 2019

A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent died Saturday morning after apparently jumping from a balcony in the Orlando International Airport.

"At 9:30 a.m., an individual jumped from the Hyatt Regency Hotel into the atrium area of the airport," the Orlando Police Department tweeted. "A male in his 40s was found in critical condition and transported to the hospital where he was pronounced deceased. Preliminary information suggests an apparent suicide."

Authorities have confirmed the man's role as a TSA employee but have not identified him. This is an isolated incident, police say, and any "reports of suspicious vehicles related to this incident are FALSE."

Dozens of flights were canceled or delayed after the Federal Aviation Administration briefly grounded all flights at Orlando, but as of midday the airport was resuming normal operations. Bonnie Kristian

January 20, 2019

Local authorities by Saturday evening had revised their estimate of deaths in a Friday explosion at a Mexican fuel pipeline to 73, with another 74 people injured in the blast and more still missing.

The death toll was initially put at 21 but quickly rose. Casualties are high because a crowd of hundreds of villagers had gathered in hopes of collecting free gasoline after the pipeline was punctured by fuel thieves. Gas stations in the area have been rationing gasoline because of fuel shortages, and word of the spill from the pipeline spread quickly.

"I trust in the people, and I know that with these painful, regrettable lessons, the people will also distance themselves from these practices" of fuel theft, said Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who visited the site of the tragedy Saturday. Bonnie Kristian

January 19, 2019

At least 66 people were killed and dozens more injured Friday when a fuel pipeline in Mexico exploded after being ruptured by fuel thieves. Some 85 people not included in the current death toll are listed as missing as of Saturday morning.

A crowd of people had gathered to collect the spilling fuel in plastic containers when the fireball occurred. Local authorities said the death toll could continue to rise given the severity of the injuries and the number of people whose whereabouts remain unknown.

Illegal pipeline taps like this one, which occurred near the town of Tlahuelilpan about 60 miles north of Mexico City, are a chronic problem in Mexico; an average of 42 taps were drilled daily in the first 10 months of 2018. "Far from stopping the fight ... against fuel theft, it's going to become stronger," said Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Saturday. "We'll continue until we've eradicated these practices." Bonnie Kristian

January 12, 2019

Two firefighters were killed and at least three dozen people injured, about a third of them seriously, by an explosion thought to be caused by a gas leak in Paris Saturday morning.

The firefighters were on the scene responding to the leak when the explosion occurred in a bakery. The blast damaged a number of nearby storefronts, flipped at least one car, and filled the street with debris and broken glass.

"I was sleeping and woke up by the blast wave," said a neighbor named Claire Sallavuard. "All the windows in the apartment exploded, doors were blown off their hinges. I had to walk on the door to leave the room. All the kids were panicking; they couldn't get out of their room" Bonnie Kristian

January 5, 2019

Five teenage girls were killed and one other person injured when a fire broke out in an escape room in Koszalin, Poland, on Friday.

The girls were attending a birthday party when a fire thought to be caused by a gas leak was started in an adjacent room. They were likely killed by carbon monoxide inhalation, while the sixth victim was hospitalized with severe burns.

"A devastating tragedy in Koszalin," Polish President Andrzej Duda tweeted. "Five joyous, growing girls have been torn out of their lives. God bless their parents and relatives." Local authorities said all escape rooms will now be required to have evacuation plans including a staff member prepared to help guests make quick emergency exits. Bonnie Kristian

January 5, 2019

Three people were killed and four more injured when shots were fired in a bowling alley in Torrance, California, late Friday.

All seven of the victims were male, and at least two of those wounded have been hospitalized. Eyewitness accounts and limited statements from authorities so far suggest the shooting occurred after a fight broke out between two groups of people.

A patron named Wes Hamad, who was bowling with his niece, told The Associated Press he saw a "huge fight" followed by "complete chaos" that temporarily blocked the facility's exit. "I grabbed my niece and started running towards the far end of the bowling alley," he said. "As we were running, we heard 15 shots."

The police investigation is ongoing, and no suspects have yet been publicly identified. Torrance is a coastal suburb on the southwest side of Los Angeles. Bonnie Kristian

December 23, 2018

A tsunami struck the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra Saturday evening, killing at least 222 people and injuring at least 800 more.

The wall of water swept in without warning and is thought to have been caused by undetected sea floor landslides from an eruption of the Krakatoa volcano, located in the strait between the islands.

Indonesia also lacks a comprehensive tsunami warning system, explained Sutopo Purwo Nugroho of the country's National Disaster Mitigation Agency. "We need multi-hazard early warning system, and we need lots of it," Nugroho said.

Rescue efforts are ongoing Sunday, and the death toll is expected to rise. This comes just a few months after an earthquake and tsunami on another Indonesian island, Sulawesi, in September killed 2,256 people.

Watch a video of Saturday's destruction via Al Jazeera below, including the moment the tsunami struck a concert on the beach. (Warning: These images are disturbing.) Bonnie Kristian

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