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Repairs may mean darker hue for Rio's iconic Christ statue
by Staff Writers
Rio De Janeiro (AFP) Feb 02, 2014

Ship runs aground off Yemen with 12 Indians aboard
Aden (AFP) Feb 02, 2014 - A small cargo ship transporting tyres among other goods has run aground off the southeastern coast of Yemen with 12 Indian sailors aboard, a local official said Sunday.

The Indian-made dhow has been stuck off the shores of Shihr, in Hadramawt, since Thursday night, the official said.

"The 12 sailors, all Indian nationals, are in good health" and still aboard the ship, said the official in remarks carried by the defence ministry's news website

Media reports had said some of the crew died and other said the dhow had sunk.

But the official said that the ship's cargo is being unloaded while officials have launched an investigation into the incident.

The vessel, owned by a merchant from Hadramawt, was carrying tyres, mattresses and food supplies, from the United Arab Emirates to nearby Mukalla.

Honduran soldiers join UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti
Tegucigalpa (AFP) Feb 01, 2014 - An initial group of 37 Honduran soldiers joined United Nations peacekeeping forces in Haiti on Friday with more troops to follow, officials said.

The Honduran military is supporting UN peacekeeping missions in Haiti as the poorest country in the Americas grapples with political instability.

"We are proud to know that Honduras is accounted for in integrating in these missions," Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Fredy Diaz told reporters after the soldiers' departure.

The Honduran Congress approved sending some 150 soldiers to Haiti on December 18. The remaining troops are due to be deployed by Tuesday.

The soldiers are being funded by the UN, with each receiving $1,096 a month for personal expenses and clothing.

Haiti marked four years earlier this month since a violent earthquake shattered the impoverished nation, which is still struggling to recover from the widespread devastation that killed 250,000 people.

Haiti has also seen an increase in anti-government protests, some breaking out into violent clashes.

Protesters have called for the resignation of President Michel Martelly, who has been in office since 2011, and are also demanding better living conditions.

Plans to rebuild the capital Port-au-Prince have been presented to the public, but the construction has yet to take place.

Rio's Christ the Redeemer statue, facing renovation after being struck by lightning last month, could take on a darker hue owing to a shortage of replacement stone, heritage officials said Sunday.

The 38-meter (125 feet -- including the pedestal) statue, named in a 2007 global poll as one of seven new wonders of the world, lost a fingertip to a lightning bolt during a January 22 storm.

But the repair work has prompted concerns over a much bigger overhaul planned for the 85th anniversary of the monument, which coincides with the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The city's Archdiocese wants to refurbish its soapstone mosaic outer shell -- but that means finding six million small tiles of the same kind of stone.

And a survey of current supplies ahead of the fingertip repair suggests there might not be enough of the original quarry stone used in the 1931 construction.

Demand for the original stone, which comes from the southern state of Minas Gerais, is high in colder climates, where it is popular for fireplaces.

"These stones are extremely rare in that they have a clear verdant water hue, which nowadays is hard to find," said a spokesman for Brazil's national heritage institute Iphan.

"Remaining stone deposits are darker with a higher grade of talc, different from those used for the Christ (statue), which include other kinds of minerals and exceptional weather-resistant properties" Iphan explained.

Engineer-designer Heitor da Silva Costa selected the original stone for its resistance to extreme temperatures.

"We have sufficient stone for current restoration work -- the concern is for later major work, such as for 2016," engineer Clezio Dutra told Rio daily O Dia.

The statue, created by Frenchman Paul Landowski, underwent a four-month $4 million restoration four years ago to fix cracks and water damage.

Some two million tourists a year head up Mount Corcovado through Tijuca Forest by tram, by car or on foot to enjoy an unbeatable view across Guanabara Bay.


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Prisoners again bolt typhoon-damaged Philippine jail
Palo, Philippines (AFP) Jan 30, 2014
Almost 200 inmates of a Philippine jail damaged by Super Typhoon Haiyan bolted the prison on Thursday, the second mass jailbreak since the storm, the jail warden said. Police soon rounded up 147 of the 185 who escaped the jail in the storm-ravaged island of Leyte but 38 remain at large, said jail warden Merly Vertulfo. The inmates had used a sharpened iron bar to force a guard to let the ... read more

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