- Myanmar makes biggest heroin bust this year
- China school wall collapse kills two children
- Search to save smallest survivors of Australia fires
YANGON: Myanmar police said Thursday they had arrested a man with 133 kilos (293 pounds) of heroin worth $2 million at local prices - the country's biggest seizure of the drug this year.
The drugs were found on Sunday in Tachileik near the border with Thailand - a major destination for smuggled narcotics.
"One man was arrested and three others are still at large," a police official in the drugs control department told AFP.
"It's the biggest seizure of heroin this year," he said on condition of anonymity.
State media said the heroin was discovered in bags transported by motorcycle following a tip-off.
Myanmar, the world's second-largest opium producer, in May pushed back by five years its goal of eliminating drug production, to 2019.
That followed a rebound in poppy cultivation in the impoverished country, which is emerging from decades of military rule.
Experts say production of amphetamine-type stimulants is also surging in Myanmar.
Earlier this month seven tonnes of caffeine - which is sometimes mixed with methamphetamine in pills - were seized near Tachileik, the police official said.
The drugs trade is closely linked to Myanmar's long-running insurgencies in remote border areas, with ethnic minority rebels widely thought to use the profits to fund their operations. -AFP
BEIJING: Two Chinese children were killed and another four injured after a wall at their primary school collapsed, reports said.
The victims, a girl named Wang Yuzhen and a boy named An Zhengguo, both 12, died as they were being taken to hospital in Linkou in Yunnan, according to yunnan.cn.
The news portal, which is run by the southwestern province's government, added the other four victims, all fifth-graders at the school, were in stable condition with non-life-threatening injuries.
It quoted a local resident saying the collapse on Wednesday could have been caused by pressure from large stacks of coal that had been piled up against the wall.
Infrastructure problems have become a source of increasing concern in China, where the booming economy has spurred a wave of new construction but where corruption is common and strict enforcement of building codes is often lacking.
School infrastructure has come under particular scrutiny following the deaths of thousands of students in buildings that collapsed during the massive 2008 earthquake that hit Yunnan's neighbouring province of Sichuan.
Many parents at the time blamed poor construction, but their demands for an investigation were ultimately unsuccessful and no one has been prosecuted over the deaths. -AFP
SPRINGWOOD, Australia: As the Blue Mountains bushfire threat eases and hundreds of residents return to their homes a relief and rescue operation is just beginning for its smallest victims - Australia's unique wildlife.
Veterinarians across the region west of Sydney are on standby as volunteer crews from animal rescue group WIRES hike out into scorched bush areas in search of native creatures that have survived the flames.
Residents whose own homes have been destroyed are putting aside their trauma to do everything they can for their animal neighbours, with WIRES describing the public response as 'mindblowing'.
Zoologist and WIRES volunteer Anna Felton is coordinating operations from the rapid-response WIRES ambulance, a 50-animal capacity van stocked with painkillers, burns cream, pouches for orphaned baby animals and cotton sheets - the only safe way to pick up a burned animal without damaging its skin.
Native birds such as cockatoos fled the mountains early, sensing imminent danger, but Felton said other animals, particularly ground and tree-dwelling marsupials such as wombats, wallabies and koalas, are "not as clued into that sort of thing and are more haphazard in their fleeing".
"So they're the ones that are kind of hanging around here with really, really nasty injuries," Felton told AFP.
There are typically few survivors from events like these - just 10 percent of native animals were estimated to have survived the 2009 Black Saturday wildfires which killed 173 Australians in neighbouring Victoria state, with more than one million wildlife deaths.
"If history is anything to go on the number that survive is very, very low," Felton said.
Rescues have been steadily increasing since an inferno swept through the lower mountains last Thursday, razing more than 200 homes and vast tracts of bushland, with "possums and birds, a few sugar gliders and quite a few wallabies," among the most recent reported casualties.
"Most of them have pretty substantial burns at this point in time, and whilst we've been able to get a fair amount of them to vets and then out to our carers the overall outlook on what's come in so far is not great to be honest," she said.
"The ones we've seen have pretty substantial injuries."
As well as responding to injury reports from its Sydney call centre - currently running at around 300 per day, including non-fire related incidents - Felton and other volunteers will trek into blackened wilderness areas searching for survivors.
Apart from burns, typically to the paws and face, many animals are also dehydrated and suffering internal smoke inhalation injuries.
Once rescued, injured animals are taken to a local vet for triage and emergency care before being released into the custody of a trained WIRES volunteer carer, of which there are 2,000 across New South Wales state, for a period of six to 12 months.
Each volunteer is trained in the care of a specific type of animal and rescued creatures of the same species will be housed together where possible to maintain their wild traits and self-sufficiency.
Orphans are "buddied" with another animal of the same species to teach them appropriate wild behaviours and with whom, when the time comes, they will be released back into the bush.
It requires patience and dedication, with many rescued charges keeping nocturnal hours meaning carers coming home from their day jobs will wake every few hours to feed the animals and dress their wounds.
Felton said the community response to the wildfires had been overwhelming, with huge donations of medical supplies and cash.
Blue Mountains locals whose own homes came under threat from the fires were as concerned about putting bowls of water and seed out for their native neighbours as protecting their property, and Felton said they were "broken" to return and find familiar creatures missing.
One woman whose parents lost their home drove 80 kilometres (49 miles) and spent an "exorbitant" sum stocking up on essentials for the WIRES van to "assist in her way with her grieving and emotions".
Even those who lost everything would dash from the ruins of their homes when they saw the WIRES van go by.
"Their houses were gone and yet they'd come running to the van to say 'Oh I saw a wallaby, it went that way'... and you sit there thinking oh my goodness. It's mindblowing," said Felton. -AFP
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