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The Latest: Silent tribute to crash victims at UN meeting



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  • ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The Latest on Ethiopian Airlines crash (all times local):

    9:50 p.m.

    A U.N. official says thousands stood in silent tribute to victims of the Ethiopian Airlines crash at the opening of the U.N. Environment Program’s Assembly in Nairobi on Monday. Some people who had been travelling to the meeting were among the 157 dead.

    Assistant Secretary-General Satya Tripathi tells reporters that “there’s a lot of grief that’s not just for the U.N. colleagues but … because there have been losses on the side of member state delegations, the civil society community and others as well.”

    Tripathi said there is a “renewed resolve” to do what more than 4,700 attendees had come to do: “preserve the cause of the environment and the planet.”

    The U.N. secretary-general and presidents of France and Kenya are expected to attend this week.


    9:05 p.m.

    An official at Royal Air Maroc says Morocco has halted the commercial use of its sole operational Boeing 737 Max 8, pending tests and examinations of the airplane after the Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday.

    The official, who spoke anonymously in line with his department rules, said the plane was scheduled to fly on Monday from Casablanca to London but was replaced.

    The official said the plane, in use since December, was undergoing an “inspection and verification” procedure by a Moroccan team and would be operational after tests are done.

    The official said Royal Air Maroc received a second Boeing 737 Max 8 airplane a few days ago, part of a deal with Boeing for acquiring a total of four.

    A number of airlines have grounded the planes.


    8:10 p.m.

    Comair, the operator of British Airways and Kulula flights in South Africa says it has grounded its Boeing 737 Max 8 while it consults with Boeing, other operators and technical experts.

    A statement does not say how many planes are affected. It says the decision was made without intervention from regulatory authorities.

    Comair joins a number of other airlines in grounding the planes after Sunday’s deadly crash in Ethiopia.

    Wrenelle Stander, executive director of Comair’s airline division, says in the statement that Comair “remains confident in the inherent safety of the aircraft.”


    6 p.m.

    The United Nations secretary-general says at least 21 U.N. staff members died in the Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday along with an undetermined number of people who had worked closely with the world body.

    Antonio Guterres spoke at the opening of the annual meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women, which began with hundreds of delegates standing in silent tribute to the 157 victims.

    The U.N. Security Council also began its meeting on Afghanistan with diplomats standing in honour of those who perished.

    Guterres said that “a global tragedy has hit close to home and the United Nations is united in grief.”

    He said the U.N. staff members came from all corners of the globe and that “they all had one thing in common — a spirit to serve the people of the world and to make it a better place for us all.”


    5 p.m.

    A Greek man who narrowly missed the Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed near Addis Ababa on Sunday says he argued with ground staff to try and board after reaching the gate minutes too late.

    “I saw the last passengers going through but the gate had already closed. I complained, in the usual way when that kind of thing happens. But they were very kind and placed me on another flight,” Antonis Mavropoulos told Greece’s private Skai Television, speaking from Nairobi.

    Mavropoulos, who runs a recycling company and lives in Athens, was travelling to Kenya to attend an environmental conference.

    “I’m slowly coming to terms with what happened and how close it came. On the other hand, I’m also very upset — I’m shattered — for those who were lost,” he said in the interview Monday. “To be honest, I didn’t get much sleep last night.”

    Mavropoulos put his survival down to luck.

    “I didn’t check my suitcase because I knew the gap between connecting flights was tight. If I had checked the bag in, they would have waited for me,” he said. “This is a very difficult moment — one that can change your life.”


    4:45 p.m.

    Ethiopia’s state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate cites the United States ambassador as saying a six-member team of U.S. aviation experts are on their way to the site of Sunday’s crash.

    Ambassador Michael Raynor visited the crash site on Monday. He told the broadcaster that the experts from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were expected to arrive at the site on Tuesday.

    He says that “Boeing and Interpol will also assist the Ethiopian government in the investigation. Interpol will assist in identifying the victims.”

    The flight data recorder and voice cockpit recorder have been found.


    4:35 p.m.

    Ugandan authorities say a senior police officer is among the dead in the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash on Sunday.

    Ugandan police say they are mourning Christine Alalo, who served as police commissioner under the banner of the African Union mission in Somalia.

    The statement calls her “a highly respected member of the force who loved her job.”

    Alalo was returning from a trip to Italy. She is the lone Ugandan who died in the crash. All 157 on board were killed.


    4:20 p.m.

    A German pastor and an aid worker from Germany are among the victims of the Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday.

    The World Council of Churches says Rev. Norman Tendis was travelling to a U.N. environment summit in Nairobi. The 51-year-old worked in Villach, Austria.

    The German development aid organization GIZ confirms that a staffer was on the plane. Spokeswoman Tanja Stumpff tells The Associated Press that the woman was on a business trip.

    Germany’s Foreign Ministry has confirmed that at least five German citizens died in the crash.


    4:05 p.m.

    Catholic Relief Services announces “with heavy hearts” that four of its Ethiopian colleagues died in Sunday’s plane crash outside Addis Ababa.

    The aid group in a statement says Sara Chalachew, Getnet Alemayehu, Sintayehu Aymeku, and Mulusew Alemu had been travelling to Nairobi for training.

    The four had worked with the organization for as long as a decade. They worked in procurement, logistics and finance.

    All 157 people on board were killed. They came from 35 countries.


    3:30 p.m.

    There are scenes of agony as members of an association of Ethiopian airline pilots cry uncontrollably for colleagues killed in Sunday’s crash near Addis Ababa.

    Framed photographs of seven crew members sit in chairs at the front of a crowded room.

    One pilot says he had planned to watch a soccer game between Manchester and Arsenal with the flight’s main pilot, Yared Getachew.

    It was Getachew who issued a distress call shortly after takeoff and was told to return. But all contact was lost.

    Another pilot says he flew with Yared several times and said they even lived together before becoming senior pilots.


    3:15 p.m.

    Pope Francis has sent his condolences to the families of the victims of the plane crash in Ethiopia.

    Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, said in a statement Monday that the pope was sad to learn about the crash and “offers prayers for the deceased from various countries and commends their souls to the mercy of Almighty God.”

    The statement said, “Pope Francis sends heartfelt condolences to their families, and upon all who mourn this tragic loss he invokes the divine blessings of consolation and strength.”


    3 p.m.

    Shares of Boeing are tumbling before the opening of U.S. markets following the crash in Ethiopia of a Boeing 737 Max 8, the second deadly crash since October.

    All 157 people on board were killed on Sunday. A Lion Air model of the same plane crashed in Indonesia last year, killing 189 people.

    Shares of Boeing Co. plunged more than 9 per cent in premarket trading Monday. If that trend holds, it could be one of the company’s worst trading days in about a decade.

    Indonesia and China have grounded all Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft. Ethiopian Airlines and Cayman Airways are doing the same.


    1:35 p.m.

    Ethiopia’s state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate reports that the black box has been found from the crashed Ethiopian Airlines plane.

    An airline official, however, tells The Associated Press that the box is partially damaged and that “we will see what we can retrieve from it.”

    The official spoke on condition of anonymity for lack of authorization to speak to the media.

    The plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa on Sunday en route to Nairobi.


    1:20 p.m.

    China says two United Nations workers were among the eight Chinese nationals killed on the Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed shortly after takeoff Sunday.

    Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang says the other Chinese passengers included four who were working for a Chinese company and two who had travelled to Ethiopia for “private matters.”

    All 157 people on board the flight to Nairobi died.

    Lu said Chinese President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders have sent condolence messages to their Ethiopian counterparts. China has extended condolences to victims’ families.

    China has ordered its airlines to ground their Boeing 737 Max 8 aircrafts by 6 p.m.


    12:45 p.m.

    The United Nations migration agency said that one of its staffers, German citizen Anne-Katrin Feigl, was on the plane en route to a training course in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya and the plane’s destination.

    Germany’s foreign ministry has officially confirmed that five victims of the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash that killed 157 people were German citizens.

    The ministry said in a statement Monday that it was in contact with the families of the victims. It did not reveal any information on the identity of those who died in the crash Sunday.

    All in all, 35 countries had someone among the 157 people who were killed. All people on board died minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa.


    12 p.m.

    The U.N. office in Nairobi is joining Ethiopia in mourning the 157 dead in Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa.

    A moment of silence and U.N. flags at half-staff marked the deaths that included several workers with U.N. and affiliated organizations.

    The U.N. resident co-ordinator in Nairobi, Siddharth Chatterjee, says that “This has taken us by shock. … But it also goes to reinforce the mortality of human life and therefore reinforces the need for humanity.”

    He says U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sent “a poignant message of condolences to everybody, not just the U.N. staff but the crew of the flight and all other nationalities which were on the plane.”

    People from 35 countries died.


    10 a.m.

    A spokesman says Ethiopian Airlines has grounded all its Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft as a safety precaution, following the crash of one of its planes in which 157 people were killed.

    Asrat Begashaw said Monday that although it is not yet known what caused the crash on Sunday, the airline decided to ground its remaining four 737 Max 8 planes until further notice as “an extra safety precaution.” Ethiopian Airlines was using five new 737 Max 8 planes and was awaiting delivery of 25 more.

    Begashaw said searching and digging to uncover body parts and aircraft debris will continue. He said forensic experts from Israel have arrived in Ethiopia to help with the investigation.

    The Associated Press

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    Hungry wolves may get new home at Isle Royale National Park



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  • TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — A U.S.-Canadian team is preparing for another mission to relocate grey wolves to Isle Royale National Park in Michigan from a second Lake Superior island, where the predators are in danger of starvation after gobbling up a caribou herd.

    The targeted pack is on Michipicoten Island on the eastern side of the lake, which was home to hundreds of caribou until ice bridges formed in recent years, enabling wolves to cross over from the mainland and feast on their helpless prey.

    The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources airlifted some of the last surviving caribou to another island last year. Before long the wolves were the ones in trouble, with only small mammals such as snowshoe hare left to eat.

    Their hunting prowess makes them prime candidates for Isle Royale, where a multi-year effort is under way to rebuild a wolf population needed to keep moose numbers under control, Superintendent Phyllis Green said.

    “We can use the good skills of those wolves, and this will match them with a larger island that will give them a better opportunity,” Green said.

    Isle Royale now has eight wolves, including six that were brought there last fall and winter from Minnesota and Ontario. Two of the newcomers were from Michipicoten Island, including the pack’s alpha male.

    Around six are believed to remain on Michipicoten. A crew of pilots, biologists and others will try to capture at least some and fly them to Isle Royale in the next few days, weather permitting.

    Officials had said earlier this month that no additional transfers were planned until this fall or next winter, partly because of a lack of money.

    But two private organizations — the National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation and the International Wolf Center — kicked off a fundraising effort, fearing the Michipicoten wolves would run out of food before then.

    “They’re not going to make it,” said Carol Brady, spokeswoman for the foundation.

    The groups have pledged $75,000 between them and have started a GoFundMe campaign to produce the remaining $25,000 needed for a four-day airlift operation. The Ontario ministry granted approval Monday, Brady said.

    As they’ve done before, crew members will trap the wolves with net guns fired from helicopters. They’ll be examined by veterinarians, and those healthy enough for movement will be taken to their new home, where there will be no shortage of prey. Isle Royale’s booming moose population is believed to exceed 1,500.

    “If left unchecked, moose would over-consume the island’s vegetation,” said Rob Schultz, executive director of the wolf centre. “Apex predators like wolves are important components of any healthy, natural ecosystems.”

    John Flesher, The Associated Press

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    B.C. researcher says device mimics parent’s touch to help babies cope with pain



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  • VANCOUVER — Researchers in British Columbia have designed a “robot” that helps reduce pain for premature babies by simulating skin-to-skin contact with a parent who may not be available during around-the-clock procedures in a neonatal intensive care unit.

    Lead inventor and occupational therapist Liisa Holsti said the Calmer device is a rectangular platform that replaces a mattress inside an incubator and is programmed with information on a parent’s heartbeat and breathing motion.

    The robotic part of Calmer is that the platform rises up and down to mimic breathing, and a heartbeat sound is audible through a microphone outside the device, said Holsti, adding a pad on top resembles a skin-like surface.

    The aim is to help babies cope with pain through touch instead of medication as much as possible while they’re exposed to multiple procedures, such as the drawing of blood, which can be done multiple times a day over several months.

    A randomized clinical trial involving 49 infants born prematurely between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy at BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre concluded Calmer provides similar benefits to human touch in reducing pain when the babies had their blood drawn.

    The findings of the study, completed between October 2014 and February 2018, were published this week in the journal Pain Reports.

    A parent’s or caregiver’s touch is the most healing and the Calmer isn’t intended to replace that, said Holsti, the Canada research chair in neonatal health and development. She worked with four other researchers on the project that involved a prototype built by engineering students at the British Columbia Institute of Technology.

    “We purposely did not design it to look anything like a human being,” she said, adding her work since 1985 in neonatal intensive care units, where she taught parents how to support their babies at home after leaving the hospital, sparked an interest in assessing infant pain and trying to relieve it.

    “We have about 30,000 babies born prematurely in Canada alone every year so my hope would be that we would be helping all of those babies with Calmer.”

    Holsti said nurses often provide so-called hand hugging by placing their hands around an infant’s head, arms and legs in a curled position during blood collection, but the study suggests the device would save almost half a million dollars in staffing costs every year at just the neonatal intensive care unit where the study was done.

    Lauren Mathany, whose twin daughters Hazel and Isla were born 24 weeks into her pregnancy last April and weighed less than two pounds each, said that while the Calmer research had been completed by then, it would have been a reassuring tool for her and her spouse when they went home to sleep or take a shower after doing plenty of hang hugging and skin-to-skin touching.

    “The NICU is the most difficult place to be. It challenges you in every single way,” she said.

    Methany’s children spent over four months at the hospital and were medically fragile when they were bought home but are now thriving at almost a year old.

    Dr. Ran Goldman, who has been a pain researcher at the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute for 20 years but wasn’t involved with the Calmer study, said the device shows promise because there’s a greater understanding that healing is delayed when pain is part of an infant’s treatment.

    Scientists in the late 1960s believed babies didn’t feel pain but there’s now an increasing understanding that they’re more sensitive to it than older children or adults because their pain-inhibiting mechanisms haven’t fully developed, said Goldman, who is also an emergency room physician at BC Children’s Hospital.

    “Research has shown that babies who suffered pain as neonates do keep this memory later on and respond differently when they get pain experiences later in life,” he said.

    — Follow @CamilleBains1 on Twitter.


    Camille Bains, The Canadian Press

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