UK journalist reported missing after crocodile attack near Arugam Bay

Sri Lankan police and the army are said to be searching the shore surrounding the area.Locals claimed the victim had been staying at the East Beach Surf Resort, located just minutes away from the surfing area he went missing from.Fawas Lafeer, owner of Safa Surf School located up the coast from where the incident happened, heard what happened from some locals who witnessed the attack.“A local fisherman witnessed a man being dragged into a river, set back from the beach, by a crocodile. The fisherman was on the opposite side of the river and downstream of the incident location,” he said. The British victim, from Surrey, southwest of London, was seen “waving his hands in the air” in desperation before being dragged under water at a lagoon called Crocodile Rock near Arugam Bay. Mr Lafeer was shocked, saying that crocodile attacks are relatively unheard of in Sri Lanka. He had covered Brexit and the EU for the newspaper and had recently returned to London after living in Brussels for a couple of months.The lagoon, known to be crawling with crocodiles, is not far from popular tourist surf spot Elephant Rock, near Arugam Bay on the southeast coast. McClean graduated from Oxford with a First Class Honours degree in French in 2015 before joining the Financial Times later that year. A UK journalist was killed by a crocodile while washing his hands at a lagoon in Sri Lanka during a holiday with friends, the British and Australian media reported.Paul McClean, 25, who worked for the Financial Times, is understood to have wandered away from his group of friends to find a toilet when he was attacked, reports The Sun. “Both tourists and locals surf at Elephant Rock, which is a beautiful secluded beach and very safe,” he said.“Crocodiles in Sri Lanka live only in the fresh, back waters of the jungle. It is almost unheard of for them to come close to the beach.“Local search and rescue teams are working alongside the police and British Embassy in attempt to locate the man’s body.” Meanwhile, a Scottish tourist, who is currently on holiday in the area and wishes to remain anonymous, said: “There’s a lagoon right next to the sea. He went to the toilet next to the lagoon and was grabbed by a crocodile.“There are lots in the lagoon. People last saw his arms in the air in the water and then was grabbed under. I was there but didn’t see it happen though. Horrible.“They are searching for a body but haven’t found anything yet.“The army were down and there are people out on boats checking the shore because crocodiles won’t eat anything in water — they will take it on to dry land to eat prey.”He also said that some locals who witnessed the incident had discussed the possibility that he may have fallen into the lagoon because of quicksand.“They are 90 per cent sure it was a crocodile but a couple of the guys said there was quicksand in the lagoon,” the tourist said.“A few people that knew the guy were just on the ground, I didn’t get that close but they all just seemed in shock and not saying much.“There were a large crowd of Sri Lankan men surrounding them and they had bits of paper.”Australian tourist Sean Carroll, from New South Wales, was also holidaying in the area.“A croc just took a tourist bloke in Sri Lanka,” he wrote on Facebook.“He was walking on a beach where a small river meets the sea, it’s named Crocodile Rock for that reason obviously.“He still hasn’t been retrieved from river. Heavy.“I’m sure he was close to the river for it to take him. Police looking and army too.”There are two different kinds of crocodile that live in Sri Lanka, the Marsh, or “mugger”, crocodile and the saltwater crocodile.A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office told The Guardian: “We are assisting the family of a British man who has been reported missing in Sri Lanka.” (Colombo Gazette)Update: Body of British journalist killed by crocodile found by Navy read more

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Myanmar UN experts alarmed at draft bill imposing restrictions on religious conversion

The experts – on freedom of religion, minority issues and human rights in Myanmar – warned that the draft bill, made public on 27 May inviting comments from monks and the public, sets out a cumbersome application and approval process for conversion while purporting to make it easier for individuals to freely convert. It also provides for disproportionate criminal sanctions on offenders, according to a news release issued by the three experts. In addition, some provisions are “vague and subject to interpretation that may lead to discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities or the poor.” The experts noted that seeking comments from the public on draft legislation is commendable in promoting political participation of the people. “But in this instance,” they added, “this process appears partial to the interest of one particular group and simply propagates the spread of incitement of racial and religious hatred, which the Government must do more to address.” The Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, noted that State interferences into the right to change one’s religion or belief are “illegitimate and incompatible with international human rights standards.” “Freedom of religion or belief is a human right, irrespective of State approval, and respect for freedom of religion or belief does not depend on administrative registration procedures,” he stressed. “I am very disturbed by the attempt to regulate religious conversion.” Rita Izsák, the Special Rapporteur on minority issues, highlighted the potential for the bill to impact negatively on religious freedoms and the rights of religious and ethnic minorities. “I urge Myanmar to strengthen its protections in line with international standards not to create obstacles to the enjoyment of religious identity, minority rights, and the right of every individual to freely choose or to change their faith,” she said. The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, noted some “worrying backtracking” on Myanmar’s progress towards a more democratic nation in the last six months, including through the arbitrary arrest and the prosecution of activists and journalists deemed anti-establishment.Ms. Lee warned the draft bill – one of four composing a legislative package on the protection of race and religion – “signals the risk of Myanmar going off-track on its path to being a responsible member of the international community that respects and protects human rights.”Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work. read more

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Charity wharf needs immediate attention – RDC residents

Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedConstruction of Gas Station results in damage to Charity River Defense Dam; Residents fearful of floodingJune 13, 2014In “Crime”Labourer feared dead after falling into Pomeroon RiverMarch 19, 2014In “Crime”Residents of St Monica/Karawab get new water ambulanceJune 3, 2016In “latest news” Rotted pillars which no longer provide support to the wharf…fearful of collapseBusiness owners and residents utilising the Charity Marketing Centre Wharf in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) are again appealing to the Government to take action to prevent the structure from further deterioration.They say that if mechanisms are not urgently put in place to save the 38-year-old facility, the entire structure would soon collapse into the Pomeroon River, taking with it millions of dollars in goods and other valuables, not to mention priceless lives.The waterfront is an important hub for many to ply their trade throughout the week, while thousands of customers utilise the services that are being offered. Businesses housed inside the Charity Marketing Centre serve residents in the far north corners of Guyana, and if this building should collapse due to negligence, great financial losses would be incurred as well as deprivation of much needed services.Concerned residents are urging the Public Infrastructure Ministry (MPI) to immediately attend to this structure before it should collapse with detrimental consequences.During the last Regional Democratic Council (RDC) meeting, Region Two Chairman, Davanand Ramdatt, asked Regional Executive Officer (REO) and clerk hired by the RDC, Rupert Hopkinson, to again write Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson on the importance of Government’s intervention.Emergency works are needed to fix the piles on which the massive concrete structure rests.About a year ago, a study was done by local engineers, who recommended immediate replacement of all the piles upon which the structure rests. An examination of the underside of the structure reveals that all the piles are seriously rotted and only a few are providing support to the building.It has been posited that Region Two is not in a position to finance the urgent repairs this structure needs, and the Region Two Administration is calling on Central Government to fix the structure as soon as possible.During a visit to the wharf earlier this year, Regional Chairman Ramdatt told this publication that the region had, last August, communicated with the MPI about the structure and the urgency for remedial work to be conducted thereon.At the moment, the green heart pillars supporting the wharf are rotten and shaking; and despite repeatedly being cautioned, over 30 folks continued to vend on the wharf.“We have gotten reports that heavy-duty trucks are driving on top the structure. The structure, as it is, cannot withstand weight, and it can very well collapse. We have been educating persons about this, but still reports indicate persons are driving on it in the nights,” the Regional Chairman had explained.During interviews, many vendors declared that they depend on vending to support their families, and have called on the relevant authorities to take their plight into consideration.INews understands that the Charity/Urasara Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) placed bars in an effort to block vehicles from traversing the wharf, since the situation was too dangerous. read more

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