German police conduct human trafficking raids, detain 9
BERLIN — Authorities say police in Berlin and four German states have raided 33 sites in connection with human trafficking and detained nine Vietnamese citizens.
Berlin prosecutors said Thursday the raids targeted suspects who allegedly arranged fake marriages and false acknowledgments of paternity to obtain residence rights for Vietnamese citizens in Germany. Investigators confiscated cellphones, documents and cash.Prosecutors said the nine people detained allegedly did not have proper residency rights.
Some 300 officers were involved in the raids in Berlin, Brandenburg, Saxony, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania and North Rhine-Westphalia.
English Channel dolphins carry ‘toxic cocktail’ of chemicals
BERLIN — Bottlenose dolphins in the English Channel harbor a “toxic cocktail” of chemicals, some of which have been banned for decades and which may be harming the rare marine mammals’ health, scientists said Thursday.
Belgian and French scientists said they’ve detected high accumulations of industrial fluids and mercury in the blubber and skin of dolphins in the Normanno-Breton Gulf, off the northwest coast of France.
Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers said they measured levels of pollutants similar to those found in dolphins in the Mediterranean Sea, around Florida’s Everglades, off the coast of the Guianas and in Guanabara Bay in Brazil.
Many of the chemicals, including so-called PCBs, have been banned since the 1970s and 1980s but persist in the environment, where they can pass through the food chain. Because the compounds are able to dissolve in oils, they accumulate in fatty tissue. In marine mammals, mothers can pass the chemicals to their calves during pregnancy and lactation.
“We suspect that elevated concentrations of PCBs can alter the reproduction of marine mammals, leading to a decrease of the number of newborns, affecting the renewal of the population,” said Krishna Das, an associate professor at the University of Liege, Belgium.
PCBs, which were once popular as lubricants and hydraulic fluids, can disrupt hormone receptors and affect the immune system, said Das, who co-authored the study.
Frank Mattig, an ornithologist at the University of Oldenburg, Germany, who wasn’t involved in the study, said the findings echo what scientists have discovered in other marine species. Mattig, who studies the impact of PCBs and mercury on sea birds, said top predators such as dolphins and whales are particularly likely to accumulate high levels of toxins.
It’s unclear what levels of the chemicals are harmful, but other studies show they pose a health risk in high concentrations, he said.
“There’s good reason why they’re banned,” he noted.
The researchers called for greater efforts to eliminate the dangerous chemicals, including safe disposal of stocks and equipment, reducing leakage from landfills and limiting the dredging of PCB-laden rivers and estuaries.
Train derails, kills 50, injures 23
KINSHASA, Congo — The Ministry of Humanitarian Action and National Solidarity says that at least 50 people have been killed after a train derailed overnight in Congo’s southeast Tanganyika province.
Steve Mbikayi told The Associated Press Thursday that the derailment also injured 23 others near the Mayibaridi locality and the toll may climb as people are still under the train and must be rescued. He said the government is sending rescue workers to the scene.
The cause of the accident is not yet known, but there are often derailments due to the cost of maintaining railways and trains. Workers from the national railway company say they have several years of unpaid wages.
Explosion in Turkey kills 4, wounds 13
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish officials say Kurdish rebels have detonated an improvised explosive device on a road in southeast Turkey, killing four people and wounding 13 others.
The local governor’s office said the explosion Thursday on a road near the town of Kulp hit a vehicle carrying villagers who were returning home after gathering wood. The private DHA news agency said the explosion caused the driver to lose control and the vehicle veered into a ditch.The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, has waged a more than three-decade old insurgency in Turkey’s mostly Kurdish southeast region. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people since it started in 1984.
The group is considered a terror organization by Turkey and its Western allies.