DHAKA – A powerful storm flattened hundreds of homes in eastern Bangladesh on Wednesday, killing a child and injuring 500 people, police said.
Three crew were missing after a Bangladeshi ship carrying more than 1,400 tonnes of cement sank in the Bay of Bengal near Chittagong port, 300 km southeast of the capital, Dhaka.
The ship sank quickly, but 10 of the crew were rescued, port officials said.
The 80 kph storm accompanied by rain swept through several districts, uprooting power and telephone poles and damaging crops.
Storms kill hundreds of people in Bangladesh every year.
Annual monsoon rains have eased over the past two days, but the country’s major rivers Padma and Brahmaputra were rising, raising fears of widespread flooding.
The Magnetic Turtle Head of Izapa
The Search for the Great Turtle Mother
There is a group of carved boulders on a remote shoreline of Nicaragua, one of which is called “turtle mother.” Discovered by Florida naturalist Jack Rudloe in the late 1970’s, every boulder is a carving of a male or female human figure. They look somewhat like the boulders of Easter Island as they stand like sentinels looking out to sea. Inside each boulder is a field of “reversed polarity,” which is magnetic imprint in the carving that is memory of a time when the earth reversed its polarity. Reversing the earth’s polarity has apparently happened a few times in ancient memory and is attributed to actual collisions or close calls with large comets or other planetary bodies. This grouping of boulders that include Turtle Mother, sit high on the cliff overlooking the sea. The area in each boulder where the polarity reverses is in the left ear of the males and in the wombs of the women. The Miskito Indians, who populate the area, say that the biggest boulder is Turtle Mother. She will send the hatchlings out to sea and then she will bring them in again by magically reversing the polarity of her womb.
Turtle Mother: Early Caribbean Religion
Jack Rudloe believes that once the worship of Turtle Mother was a full blown religion of the Caribbean peoples, lunar, magical and life-affirming and revealing our human lives intertwined with that of the turtle in the natural order of things. Today, Turtle Mother is a myth of Caribbean told by the Miskito Indians of Nicaragua. They remember when the turtle was so plentiful that whole villages made their living from turtling; so plentiful that the loggerhead, the kemp’s ridley, the leatherback, and the hawksbill were common and familiar sights and the rhythms of the turtle’s lives were intertwined with the people who lived near the water
While a full moon illuminated the gently rocking waters off Nicaragua’s eastern shore, some 40 Miskito Indians in dugout canoes and small boats paddled out to meet a weather-worn lobster boat. It was an historic October night in 1990. Bernard Nietschmann, a leading expert on the Miskito culture, was on board, along with Nicaragua’s natural resources minister, Jaime Incer, and conservationists from the Caribbean Conservation Corporation, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the World Wildlife Fund. As a result of the moonlit meeting, Nicaragua established the Miskito Cays Protected Area in 1991, encompassing more than 5,000 square miles of reefs, seagrass beds and coastal wetlands.
The Miskitos are superb fishermen. Dozens of tiny, mangrove-rimmed islands called cays, and patches of coral reef make their homeland an exceptionally productive fishing ground. The waters are alive with creatures, including three species of endangered sea turtles, spiny lobster, shrimp and an unsurveyed array of fish. This piscatorial treasure draws fleets of foreign fishermen eager to steal as much of the bounty as they can. They especially want the lobster, which they sell at handsome profits to U.S. buyers.
Conservationists and the Miskito Indians had hoped that, by establishing a protected area, they could better manage the rich resources of the Cays and gain some protection from the lobster “pirates.” According to Nietschmann, a professor of geography at the University of California at Berkeley, well-managed fisheries would help the Miskitos to support themselves, finance conservation projects and develop the impoverished region. Unfortunately, says Nietschmann, in the past few years “resource pirates and drug traffickers have flooded into this huge, unpatrolled and isolated region, overexploiting the lobsters and jeopardizing the communities.”
In 1993, lobster boats from neighboring Honduras and other countries “stole” some $25 million worth of lobsters, he calculates. The pirates buy the lobsters from the Miskitos who make their living diving for the bottom-dwelling crustaceans. They often dive without adequate equipment and are frequently injured by making successive deep plunges. Scores of Miskito Indians have been killed or paralyzed from diving accidents, Nietschmann says. Sometimes they are paid with cocaine instead of cash.
The illegal fishing boats “launder” lobsters through Honduras, selling much of their catch to the Red Lobster restaurant chain in the United States, reports Nietschmann: “A lobster-tail dinner in the United States is tied to paralyzed Indian divers, cocaine trafficking and blocked protection of the major center of tropical coastal biodiversity in the Western Hemisphere.”
Perpetually strapped for funds, the Nicaraguan Navy makes little effort to patrol the coastal waters. In an attempt to curb diving accidents, Nietschmann, marine biologist Bill Alevizon, and the Florida-based Caribbean Conservation Corporation (CCC) initiated a scuba-training course on the Miskito coast to educate divers about how to avoid air embolisms and decompression sickness, called “the bends.” The CCC also offered training to local doctors in how to treat scuba-diving injuries.
“There was a lack of understanding among the Miskito divers,” says Jeanne Mortimer, program manager of the CCC. “Many of the divers didn’t understand why they were getting the bends. They tend to make many deep dives in one day.” But education doesn’t always stop injuries. “Now they may understand why it is dangerous to make so many deep dives,” Mortimer explains, “but they may still decide to dive, because they can make a lot of money by local standards.” Miskito divers in Nicaragua earn about $6 a pound for lobster tails. “Whatever the local rate for lobster tails,” says Nietschmann, “the pirates will pay a dollar more.”
Red Lobster, which helped fund the dive-training program, claims its tails are clean. Last year, the company began tracking the origins of the lobster they buy, to ensure that they purchase only from fishing vessels with legal permits. Further, Red Lobster says they buy only trap-caught lobsters. “Our position is that we do not want to and will not buy deep-dive caught lobster,” maintains Dick Monroe, vice-president of public relations at Red Lobster. “We have agreements with our suppliers in Honduras to that effect. It’s been more difficult having agreements understood in Nicaragua, because of communication problems.”
But conservationists don’t agree that a fishery based exclusively on traps is the answer. “First of all, if [Red Lobster] says it isn’t going to use the services the Miskito divers are providing, that is not going to help these people,” says CCC’s Mortimer. “Second, trap-caught lobsters could be even more harmful to the environment. Fishing boats drop traps and damage the coral reef. There’s also the risk that they will lose traps or just dump them in the ocean when they wear out.” Until they rust away, abandoned traps continue to attract and kill fish and lobsters.
Nietschmann is stronger in his objections. “I call them the traplines of death,” he says. “The fishing boats set traps in 125-mile lines, one trap every 50 yards. These are all illegal trap sets.” To locate the traps, Nietschmann reports, fishing vessels are using the sophisticated Global Positioning System. This satellite technology, originally designed to allow the military to pinpoint locations, now enables anyone who obtains a little black receiver to do the same.
The intricacies of the lobster dilemma make Dick Monroe sigh. “This is not a problem with an easy answer,” he concedes. “We are dealing with countries going through horrible civil wars with high illiteracy and poverty rates, and a resource that is theirs to take advantage of. Our leadership is setting specific standards … If we can do that and have our government talk to their governments, maybe they can resolve this and have a long-term viable resource.”
Residents of the 31 Miskito Coast villages, meanwhile, are working together to protect the Cays. This is not the first time they’ve had to defend their homeland: The Miskitos fought off successive Spanish governments and, in the 80s, were forced to take up arms against the Sandinistas during Nicaragua’s nine-year civil war. With support from Natural Resources Minister Incer and U.S. conservation groups, the Miskitos have formed a grassroots organization to manage the newly established protected area. But they recognize that their futures are linked to their ability to keep foreigners from depleting the coastal fisheries.
As a resident of the Miskito coastal village of Layasiksa told Nietschmann: “We went as far as giving our lives in the war to protect our territory. We fought to defend these resources. We can’t just let others steal them away.”
Consumers can help, says Nietschmann, by asking questions about the lobsters they purchase, to pressure companies like Red Lobster into establishing strong health, safety and environmental standards.
Pirates and turtle hunters once hid in the Miskito Cays, a group of islands off the east coast of Nicaragua. These islands include San Andrés, Providencia, and Corn Island, to name a few. Politically, the islands are split between Colombian and Nicaraguan rule, with some smaller ones falling under the possession of the Miskito Indian Nation. Now, human occupation has robbed these islands of many of their original treasures as introduced plants and animals, as well as conversion of forests to farmlands, have displaced many native species. Isolated patches of native trees grow like scattered jewels across the landscape.
Though very little forest remains on the habitable islands in the Miskito Cays, there is a wealth of life in the water surrounding them. A labyrinth of coral reefs winds through the cobalt waters of the Caribbean Sea, supporting rich communities of marine organisms. Mangrove forests cling to the shore, with the trees’ spindly roots creating a thicket as they reach through the water and into the mud and sand below. The shelter provided by these roots is a treasure trove for crabs, mollusks, and juvenile fish. Behind the mangroves, strands of moist forests dot the landscape like emeralds. Remaining forest fragments host several endemic species. Hurricanes have played a major role in shaping the vegetation here–which tends to be short and dense on the windward side of the islands, getting progressively taller on the leeward side and in areas protected from heavy winds.
Pirates and turtle hunters once hid in the Miskito Cays, a group of islands off the east coast of Nicaragua. These islands include San AndrÃ©s, Providencia, and Corn Island, to name a few. Politically, the islands are split between Colombian and Nicaraguan rule, with some smaller ones falling under the possession of the Miskito Indian Nation. Now, human occupation has robbed these islands of many of their original treasures as introduced plants and animals, as well as conversion of forests to farmlands, have displaced many native species. Isolated patches of native trees grow like scattered jewels across the landscape.
Though very little forest remains on the habitable islands in the Miskito Cays, there is a wealth of life in the water surrounding them. A labyrinth of coral reefs winds through the cobalt waters of the Caribbean Sea, supporting rich communities of marine organisms. Mangrove forests cling to the shore, with the treesâ€™ spindly roots creating a thicket as they reach through the water and into the mud and sand below. The shelter provided by these roots is a treasure trove for crabs, mollusks, and juvenile fish. Behind the mangroves, strands of moist forests dot the landscape like emeralds. Remaining forest fragments host several endemic species. Hurricanes have played a major role in shaping the vegetation here–which tends to be short and dense on the windward side of the islands, getting progressively taller on the leeward side and in areas protected from heavy winds.
Police are investigating incidents of drugging of passengers to Malindi from Mombasa.
Six passengers in as many days have been taken to Malindi police station after being drugged and robbed of cash and valuables in buses from Mombasa.
Yesterday, an elderly man was rushed to the local hospital after he was brought to the police station unconscious from a bus.
Area police commander Philip Opiyo said: “It looks like there is a person or a syndicate of people on a drugging mission. We are investigating the matter.”
The criminals seem to be targeting passengers who use a particular bus company on the Mombasa-Malindi-Lamu route, said Mr Opiyo.
Passengers being targeted are those who look well-up, especially those with big suitcases and those who are dressed expensively, said the Police.
Other police sources said those who drugged the passengers chose certain foods which they offered to the travellers once the bus left the terminus.
“They tend to be very generous people, offering to share foods such as biscuits and candy with other passengers.
“Once the passengers accept and eat these foods, they get drugged,” said the source.
The police warned travellers to resist any offers of food from strangers and instead report such cases to officers.
“We are now on alert. We want to warn all travellers to be careful and to report to us anyone with such offers.
“This is because people are losing their money and property to the criminals,” said the source.
Dhaka – At least 40 fishermen were feared drowned at the weekend in Bangladesh after nearly a dozen trawlers sank among rising waves touched off by tropical gales sweeping the Bay of Bengal coast, rescuers and witnesses said Sunday.
More than 150 fishermen were saved from the water by coast guard divers who searched the tiny offshore islands for survivors.
‘Several fishermen had taken refuge in the rice-growing islands with their wind battered trawlers,’ said Bangladesh Coast Guard Commander Nazrul Islam.
Islam said the search operation for the missing fishermen would continue amidst driving monsoon rains.
Officials in the southern Bangladesh port of Mongla said the missing were among those fishermen who had ignored the overnight storm signals.