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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

Nepal glaciers shrink by quarter in 30 years

Posted: 23 May 2014 06:30 AM PDT

KATHMANDU, May 23, 2014 (AFP) - Climate change has caused Nepal's Himalayan glaciers to shrink by nearly a quarter in just over 30 years, raising the risk of natural disasters in the ecologically fragile region, a scientist said Friday.

A new study by the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) shows that the area covered by glaciers has decreased by 24 per cent between 1977 and 2010.

Samjwal Ratna Bajracharya, lead author of the report, told AFP, "the shrinking of glaciers in Nepal is definitely connected to climate change, glacial melt is a huge indicator of rising temperatures."

The Norway-funded research project led by ICIMOD took three years to complete, as scientists mapped satellite imagery from several decades to see the extent of ice loss in the region.

The fastest decline occurred between 1980 and 1990, Bajracharya said, adding that prior to the late 1970s, satellite imagery reflected little change in Nepal's glacial area.

He said the glacial melting is creating huge, expanding lakes that threaten to burst and devastate mountain communities living downstream.

The accelerated glacial loss raises concerns over future access to water resources, particularly in regions where groundwater is limited and monsoon rains are erratic.

"If the trend continues, the immediate impact will be felt by those living in high-altitude regions, who are dependent on freshwater reserves from glaciers," Bajracharya said.

The findings, published earlier this month, also sound alarm bells for Nepal's push to develop hydropower projects.

"Nepal cannot use its water resources to develop the country without assessing the state of our glaciers and river basins," he said.

A government report in India recently blamed hydropower projects for devastating floods last year that killed thousands in India and Nepal.

The government panel said the build up of sediment in rivers, due to the dumping of soil that was dug up during construction of hydropower projects, exacerbated flooding when record-high rainfall hit the region last June.

British woman found dead in Bali villa

Posted: 23 May 2014 06:03 AM PDT

DENPASAR, Indonesia, May 23, 2014 (AFP) - A British woman was found dead in her rented villa on the holiday island of Bali, an embassy official said Friday, while Indonesian police suspect the victim was murdered.

Police said 40-year-old Anne Marie Drozdz was found dead in the cultural tourism district of Ubud on Thursday afternoon and that there were signs her villa had been broken into.

"She was found by the owner of the villa lying dead on the floor with a black cloth over her face," Gianyar district police chief Komang Sandi Arsana told reporters.

"The door was damaged and there were dried up pools of blood on the floor," he said, adding that police suspected murder but awaited autopsy results to confirm the cause of death.

The woman had been renting the villa since May 17, police said.

Ida Bagus Putu Alitin, head of forensics at Sanglah Hospital in the city of Denpasar, said that the woman's body exhibited bruises on the neck and around the mouth.

"But we will wait until permission from her family and police to carry out an autopsy," Alitin said.

A British embassy spokesman in Jakarta confirmed the death, adding that embassy officials were "ready to provide assistance to the family" and that they were cooperating with local authorities.

Broadcaster shot dead in southern Philippines

Posted: 23 May 2014 04:03 AM PDT

DAVAO, Philippines, May 23, 2014 (AFP) - Gunmen shot dead a radio broadcaster in the violence-stricken southern Philippines on Friday - the latest in a string of deadly attacks on journalists, police said.

Samuel Oliverio was driving his motorcycle with his wife riding pillion when he was attacked by two men on another motorcycle in Digos city, about 960 kilometres (597 miles) south of the Philippine capital.

"I heard a loud bang and thought one of the motorcycle's tyres had exploded. It was only after the second explosion that I realised Sammy had been shot," Rowena Oliverio said, using her husband's nickname.

The 57-year-old was a known critic of illegal gambling and drugs and worked as a commentator on Radio Ukay and Supreme Radio in Digos city on Mindanao island.

A press group said his death shows a failure by the government to stop journalists' murders amid a culture of impunity where some criminals believe political connections will help them avoid punishment.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said 32 media workers had been murdered since President Benigno Aquino took office in 2010, despite a pledge to take action.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda told AFP Aquino had ordered the justice department to investigate Oliverio's murder.

"We fully respect the freedom of the press. We are serious in our resolve to make sure to prosecute the people who have committed these dastardly acts," he added.

A special justice department task force has separately been investigating the murder of journalists, Lacierda said.

Oliverio was the second Filipino broadcaster to be shot on Mindanao in less than three weeks, according to police. A tabloid reporter was also shot dead near Manila last month.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said 76 journalists had been murdered in the Philippines in connection with their work since 1992.

It placed the Philippines third in its "impunity index", indicating the most dangerous places for journalists to work.

In one of the worst instances of such crimes, 32 journalists were among 58 people kidnapped and massacred, allegedly by a powerful political clan, in the southern province of Maguindanao in November 2009.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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