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Emiliano Sala ‘exposed to carbon monoxide in plane crash’

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Footballer Emiliano Sala was exposed to high levels of..

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Footballer Emiliano Sala was exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide prior to a fatal plane crash in the English Channel, a report has revealed.

Sala, 28, and pilot David Ibbotson, 59, crashed on 21 January while travelling from Nantes in France to Cardiff.

Toxicology tests on Sala's body showed CO levels in his blood were so great it could have caused a seizure, unconsciousness or a heart attack.

The Sala family said there should be a detailed examination of the plane.

Mr Ibbotson, from Crowle, North Lincolnshire, has still not been found.

What does the report say?

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said Sala's blood had a COHb (carboxyhaemoglobin – which forms in red blood cells upon contact with carbon monoxide) level of 58%.

At this level, symptoms would include include seizure, unconsciousness and heart attack.

It added: "A COHb level of more than 50% in an otherwise healthy person is generally considered to be potentially fatal."

It is likely Mr Ibbotson would also have been exposed to carbon monoxide.

Piston engine aircraft such as the Piper Malibu involved in the crash produce high levels of carbon monoxide.

The gas is normally conveyed away from the aircraft through the exhaust system, but poor sealing or leaks into the heating and ventilation system can enable it to enter the cabin.

Several devices are available to alert pilots over the presence of carbon monoxide – they are not mandatory but can "alert pilots or passengers to a potentially deadly threat".

What will happen next?

AAIB investigators are working with aircraft manufacturers in the USA – where the Piper Malibu was registered – to look at how carbon monoxide could have entered the cabin.

"Operational, technical and human factors" will be considered.

Geraint Herbert, the AAIB's lead inspector for this investigation, said: "Symptoms at low exposure levels [to carbon monoxide] can be drowsiness and dizziness, but as the exposure level increases, it can lead to unconsciousness and death.

"The investigation continues to look into a wide range of areas in relation to this accident, but in particular we are looking at the potential ways in which carbon monoxide can enter the cabin in this type of aircraft."

Wednesday's bulletin was the second to be released following the crash, but the investigation is not expected to report its full findings until early 2020.

How has Sala's family reacted?

Daniel Machover of Hickman & Rose solicitors, who represents the family, said: "The family believe that a detailed technical examination of the plane is necessary.

"The family and the public need to know how the carbon monoxide was able to enter the cabin. Future air safety rests on knowing as much as possible on this issue."

Why hasn't the plane been recovered?

The AAIB responded to calls for the plane to be retrieved from the sea bed by saying it filmed substantial video evidence at the scene after the aircraft was found in February.

"It was not possible at the time to recover the wreckage," it said.

"We have carefully considered the feasibility and merits of returning to attempt to recover the wreckage. In this case, we consider that it will not add significantly to the investigation and we will identify the correct safety issues through other means."

The statement said after a "violent impact with the sea", the wreckage may not even give definitive answers and the reasons for not retrieving the plane had been explained in detail to both the Sala and Ibbotson families.

What has Cardiff City said?

The club said it was "concerned" by the report, adding: "We continue to believe that those who were instrumental in arranging its [the plane's] usage are held to account for this tragedy."

In an interview in February, football agent Willie McKay, who commissioned the flight, told the BBC he and his family paid for it.

He was not involved, he said, in selecting the plane or the pilot and it was not a cost-share arrangement.

How have experts interpreted the report?

Retired pilot and aviation safety commentator Terry Tozer said the finding was "a surprise", adding: "It shows you can never tell what the root cause of an accident is until the investigators have dug into the nitty gritty.

"How and why did the carbon monoxide get in? Presumably through the exhaust system… the fumes get into the ventilation system."

Mr Tozer said he had never encountered anything similar before and would not expect carbon monoxide poisoning to be a big risk on such an aircraft.

He added: "It's not like a car where you can open the windows. It can creep up on you, and that could be a slow process.

"It's odourless so you wouldn't necessarily know you were being fed these fumes unless you had a detection system – but that isn't mandatory for this type of aircraft."

Mr Tozer agreed with the Sala family that salvaging the wreckage and examining it would be the only way to find how the leak occurred.

"Aviation accidents usually come about when a number of factors accumulate.

"So, we start with the pilot and his lack of qualifications, then circumstances that delay the flight to night time, possibly feeling pressure the pilot then takes off when he shouldn't and finds weather that he is struggling with and the final straw is that his ability is impaired by poisoning from a leak in the exhaust and he loses control."

How dangerous is carbon monoxide?

By James Gallagher, health and science correspondent, BBC News

Carbon monoxide is an invisible killer with no smell, colour or taste.

It is deadly because the gas starves the body of vital oxygen.

Your red blood cells contain haemoglobin – its job is to pick up oxygen from the lungs and transport it around the body.

The problem is haemoglobin prefers carbon monoxide and binds to the gas iRead More – Source

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Brazil’s indigenous communities fear mining threat over war in Ukraine

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Maurício Ye’kwana worries about the future. He comes from the community of Auaris, in northern Brazil, close to the border with Venezuela.

The area, part of the Yanomami Indigenous Territory, is rich in gold, diamonds and minerals – and illegal miners want a piece of it. In all, there are an estimated 20,000 illegal miners on the land.

“It’s got worse in the past few years,” Maurício says, explaining that during the pandemic, the number of planes, helicopters and boats linked to illegal mining increased.

He’s only 35, but it’s the younger generation that concerns him – boys increasingly being lured into illegal work.

“The young people are the best boat drivers,” he says. They can earn as much as 10,000 Brazilian reais ($2,140; £1,645) for a single trip.

Maurício has come to Brasilia to take part in the Free Land Camp, an annual event that brings together indigenous communities looking to defend their land rights.

On Brasilia’s main esplanade, a grand avenue that leads to Congress and the presidential palace, communities from across the country have erected hundreds of tents.

Milling around the camp are indigenous Brazilians, many of them wearing feathered headdresses, intricate beaded jewellery and painted with geometric tattoos identifying their tribe.

This year, the event has taken on an even bigger meaning.

President Jair Bolsonaro has made it his mission to push economic development in the Amazon. In his latest attempt to make inroads into indigenous territories, he has cited the war in Ukraine. Brazil relies heavily on imported fertilisers for its agribusiness industry – more than 90% of its fertilisers come from abroad, and Russia is its most important partner.

“A good opportunity arose for us,” Mr Bolsonaro said of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He has argued that by mining in indigenous territories, Brazil can build more of its own potassium reserves.

It’s an argument questioned by some experts.

“Only 11% of the reserves are inside indigenous lands and other states like São Paulo and Minas have reserves,” says politician Joenia Wapichana, the first indigenous woman voted into Congress in 2018. “It’s a false narrative that tries to confuse the minds of the Brazilians, making them believe it’s important, that people won’t have food on their table.”

Also, it’s not a short-term fix.

“From a technological and environmental perspective, the licences needed and the infrastructure – it all takes time. Being able to offer these products to the Brazilian market would probably take seven to 10 years,” says Suzi Huff, Prof of Geology at the University of Brasilia. “We’re talking about an extremely sensitive area in which care needs to be taken. It’s false to say that it will solve Brazil’s problems.”

The bill has been in the works since 2020. But last month, the lower house voted to consider it under emergency provisions, removing the need for committee debates.

“It’s very clearly blackmail,” says Prof Huff. “Bolsonaro saw an opportunity to continue with this project of allowing mineral exploration including in indigenous lands and used the scarcity of fertilisers in Brazil to move forward with this project.”

It was expected to be voted on in the lower house this week, but that hasn’t happened – and few believe, in this election year, that it will. Not even the big players in the industry agree with it, with the Brazilian Institute of Mining last month saying it was a bill “not suitable for its intended purposes”, and calling for broader debate.

While a delay in voting is seen as a relief by indigenous leaders, it’s still a challenge on the ground.

“A fiery political discourse encourages invasions in indigenous lands,” says Joenia Wapichana. “The fact that Bolsonaro says he supports mining, that he will regulate mining in indigenous lands already exposes the indigenous people and makes them more vulnerable.”

The discourse is, of course, deeply political, especially with elections around the corner. On Tuesday, former president Lula da Silva – and the man leading in the polls to win October’s vote – made a visit to the camp.

“Today the headlines are about a government that doesn’t have scruples when it comes to offending and attacking the indigenous communities who are already on this land,” he said.

The response was huge cheers of “out with Bolsonaro” – but there are still six months until the elections. And this is Brazil – much can change in politics here, and the future of Brazil’s indigenous tribes is more uncertain than ever.

Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-61093258

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Latin America

Homes engulfed as deadly landslide hits Colombia

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A landslide triggered by heavy rains has killed at least 14 people in central Colombia, officials say.

Another 35 people were now in hospital after several homes were engulfed in the Dosquebradas municipality, Risaralda province, on Tuesday.

The officials issued a photo showing a gash in the lush foliage covering a mountain overlooking the area.

Other residents living close to a swollen river nearby have been moved to safety.

Rescue teams have been searching in the mud for more survivors, Colombia’s disaster management officials said.

“A very loud noise scared us. We went out and saw a piece of the mountain on top of the houses,” taxi driver Dubernei Hernandez told the AFP news agency.

“I went to that place and it was a disaster, with people trapped.”

Mr Hernandez said he helped dig up two bodies and a survivor. At least five homes were buried by the mud, he added.

There are fears that the death toll will rise further.

Landslides are common in Colombia and houses built on steep hillsides are at particular risk during the country’s rainy season.

In 2019, at least 28 people were killed after a landslide hit the south-western Cauca province.

Two years earlier, more than 250 people were killed when a landslide hit the town of Mocoa, in the southern Putumayo province.

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Mexico violence: Third journalist killed this year

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A Mexican journalist has been shot dead in the northern border city of Tijuana, officials say, the third journalist to be killed in the country this year.

Lourdes Maldonado López, who had decades of experience, was attacked in her car as she arrived home on Sunday.

She had previously said she feared for her life, and was enrolled in a scheme to protect journalists, activists said.

The country is one of the world’s most dangerous for journalists, and dozens have been killed in recent years.

Many of those targeted covered corruption or powerful drug cartels. Campaigners say the killings are rarely fully investigated, with impunity virtually the norm.

The motive for Maldonado’s killing was not clear and no-one has been arrested.

During a news conference in 2019, Maldonado asked President Andrés Manuel López Obrador for his “support, help and labour justice” because, she said, “I fear for my life”.

She was referring to a labour dispute with Jaime Bonilla, who was elected governor of Baja California state later that year as a candidate from the president’s Morena party. Mr Bonilla, who left office late last year, owns the PSN media outlet, which had employed Maldonado.

Maldonado had sued the company for unfair dismissal and, last week, said she had won the lawsuit after a nine-year legal battle. Mr Bonilla and PSN have not commented.

Rights group Article 19 said she had previously been attacked because of her work and was registered in the Mexican government’s programme to protect journalists.

The campaign group Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said it was “shocked” by the murder.

The killing came six days after photojournalist Margarito Martínez was shot dead outside his home in Tijuana. He covered crime in the city, with his work appearing in national and foreign media.

A week earlier, José Luis Gamboa Arenas was found dead with stab wounds in the eastern city of Veracruz. An editor at the Inforegio and La Notícia news websites, he often wrote articles about organised crime and violence.

Exact numbers of victims are hard to come by as investigations often get nowhere, and different studies apply different criteria in counting the dead.

According to Article 19, 24 journalists were killed between December 2018, when President López Obrador took office, and the end of 2021.

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