A pet dog whose owners thought had died in a house explosion on Wednesday has been found alive among the rubble.

Fire rescue labrador Reqs discovered four-year-old collie Carryad in the wreckage caused by the blast in Clacton, Essex.

Reqs sniffed out his fellow canine after being alerted to a "whimpering noise" during an inspection of the site.

Investigators cleared some of the debris and Carryad walked out of the rubble having escaped with only a small cut to her leg.

Reqs's handler Nikki Harvey, from Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue, said: "We were carrying out an inspection of the site when we heard a whimpering noise.

"Reqs was immediately alerted and bolted over to where the noise was coming.

"As we cleared the debris, out popped her head. She was at the bottom of the garden and had been sheltered by trees and other debris.

"She was frightened and quite scared so she was coaxed out with some dog food."

Vets confirmed Carryad, who is being reunited with her owners, had not suffered any serious injuries.

Two-year-old Reqs has been working with Hertfordshire Fire Service for the past year.

Pictures of Carryad shortly after she was rescued were posted to Reqs's Twitter account which has attracted nearly 2,000 followers.

Firefighters believe a domestic gas fault is likely to have caused the explosion which destroyed two houses and injured 10 people.

One semi-detached house was destroyed and the second floor of a neighbouring property was left hanging precariously following the blast. A third property was also wrecked.

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The most expensive Winter Olympics in history are under way after a colourful opening ceremony in the Russian resort of Sochi.

Some 40,000 spectators, as well as hundreds of competitors from 87 countries, descended on the Fisht stadium - one of five newly-built venues in the Olympic Park.

As millions of people around the world tuned in on television, there was an embarrassing early glitch as one of the five Olympic rings suspended from the ceiling failed to illuminate completely.

A huge snowflake appeared in its place, as the stadium was plunged into darkness for the start of the ceremony.

More than 6,000 costumes were reportedly made for performers in the show, which reflected on important events in Russian history, including the 1917 Revolution, the rise of Communism and the space race.

Tennis star Maria Sharapova was among those who carried the Olympic torch on the final leg of its journey, while the cauldron was lit by rhythmic gymnastics star Alina Kabayeva and wrestling champion Aleksandr Karelin.

A memorable opening ceremony featured appearances by former Russian boxing champion Nikolay Valuev and renowned ballet dancer Svetlana Zakharova.

Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, and Lidiya Skoblikova, the six-time speed skating champion, were among those who carried the Olympic flag into the stadium.

Earlier, the head of the International Olympic Committee said preparations for the sporting spectacle had been "going pretty smoothly".

Thomas Bach said he was eager to put aside concerns over security and gay rights, adding: "As always with the first days of the Games, there's a small hiccup here or there, but nothing really substantial so far."

Short track speed skater Jon Eley lead Team GB's 56 athletes into the stadium after he was selected as the country's ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

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A 73-year-old woman is recovering at home after being mauled by a rabid raccoon in her own bed.

Ginny Ballou, from Hingham, Massachusetts, told local WBZ-TV that the raccoon managed to get into her house through a pet door on her back porch.

The woman, who did not want to show her face, said: "It's something I'll never forget. It was that scary."

She said she was asleep when the animal jumped on her face.

"At first, I thought it was my cat. But then it bit my lip and chin, and it latched on and it wouldn't let go," she said.

Ms Ballou said she struggled with the animal for nearly two minutes, until finally she hit it with a phone by the bed, got it out of the room, and called police.

The animal was caught and tests showed it had rabies. It was later euthanised.

Ms Ballou was wounded not just in her face but also in her thumbs and arms. She was treated at the hospital and has started getting rabies shots.

[media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzShAJpmV8U[/media]

credits: HLN

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Women in Tokyo are threatening a sex boycott against any man who votes for the front-runner in this weekend's gubernatorial election, in protest at his claim that menstruation makes women unfit for government.

A Twitter campaign group based in the capital which bills itself as "The association of women who will not have sex with men who vote for (Yoichi) Masuzoe," has garnered almost 3,000 followers since it launched last week.

Although the founders have not identified themselves, in their profile they said: "We have stood up to prevent Mr. Masuzoe, who makes such insulting remarks against women...We won't have sex with men who will vote for Mr. Masuzoe."

Masuzoe, 65, a former political scientist who became a celebrity through TV talk shows before getting involved in politics in 2001, is widely seen as an establishment figure in a country where gender roles remain very distinct.

In 1989, he told a men's magazine that it would not be proper to have women at the highest level of government because their menstrual cycle makes them irrational.

"Women are not normal when they are having a period... You can't possibly let them make critical decisions about the country (during their period) such as whether or not to go to war," he said.

Masuzoe has the backing of the conservative ruling party of hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and is seen as likely to pip his nearest rival, former prime minister Moriyoshi Hosokawa who is standing on an anti-nuclear platform.

All 16 candidates in the poll are men, with many of them aged in their 60s or older.

But Masuzoe's comments about women, as well as other controversial remarks on taxing the elderly, have triggered a backlash.

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Hong Kong's Mandarin Oriental hotel stirred up ridicule on Friday with an afternoon-tea promotion for men based on pork pies and beef rather than dainty snacks "normally preserved for women".

The five-star hotel denied that its marketing campaign for the "Gentlemen's Power Snack" and "Gentlemen's Power Afternoon Tea" was sexist, but a women's rights group heaped scorn on the language used in a press release.

"The afternoon-tea ritual with delicate sandwiches and warm scones is one that is normally preserved for women," the Mandarin's release said.

From March, however, "distinguished men will be able to meet and relax, or secure business deals over two different afternoon teas...which have been created especially for them", it said.

"It is quite silly, as a marketing strategy, to single out certain food and beverage outlets and meals as more suitable to one sex than the other," Annie Chan, chairwoman of the Association for the Advancement of Feminism, told AFP.

She called the connection drawn between scones and women as "laugh-out-loud funny".

"To market bars, roast beef and pork pies as more suited to men is just as ridiculous."

The afternoon tea for gentlemen includes pies, Yorkshire puddings and cigar-shaped chocolates, accompanied by beer or whisky and served in "masculine" settings featuring "leather booths and dark-wood furniture", the hotel statement said.

"There's absolutely no way that we're trying to alienate any group to any area within the hotel," Mandarin Oriental director of communications Nina Colls told AFP.

"It was created with men in mind (but) both male and female can most certainly enjoy the afternoon tea," she said.

The Mandarin Oriental, built in 1963 when Hong Kong was a British colony, is located in the heart of the city's financial district, near the Victoria Harbour.
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A firefighter responding to a crash in Southern California was handcuffed and briefly held after he failed to move his vehicle immediately when police asked him to.

KFMB-TV video shows the firefighter being put in restraints and led away by a California Highway Patrol officer.

He was held briefly in a patrol car but not arrested.

The unnamed firefighter, donning full gear, can be heard talking to news crews as he is being handcuffed.

U-T San Diego said crews were helping victims after a car overturned on Tuesday night on Interstate 805.

One person was taken to hospital.

Chula Vista Fire Chief Dave Hanneman said a fire engine was parked behind an ambulance for safety reasons when a CHP officer demanded it be moved out of traffic lanes.

The firefighter said he would check with his captain but was told to move it immediately or face arrest.

CHP spokesman Jake Sanchez did not comment on the arrest immediately.

Officials from the fire department and CHP have met to discuss the incident.

[media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5s9XqQSuiBk[/media]

credits: daily planet news

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A zoo in Japan has held an emergency drill to prepare for a disaster scenario in which animals manage to break free from enclosures.

The exercise included dressing up a volunteer as a gorilla which manages to escape.

The costume-wearing employee ran through the zoo before being overwhelmed by other workers with nets and "sedated".

Natsumi Uno, who donned the costume, said: "In our work, there may be times when we need to capture an animal, but we would never be the ones being captured.

"So I tried to feel what an animal might feel and realised that when they're on the run, they would be scared. That's how I felt."

More than 150 staff members were joined by members of police and fire departments during the drill at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo.

Toshimitsu Doi, the zoo's director, said the drill was successful.

He said: "It's important to take these opportunities to remember what needs to be done."

Ueno Zoo has had escape scares in the past, the most recent being a monkey that escaped from its enclosure in 2010.

Drills of this nature happen every two years and have previously involved the simulated escapes of a rhinoceros and a tiger.

[media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnHlK11SrwQ[/media]

credits: Margaret Hester

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An East Tennessee couple is charged with murder in the death of the man's 5-year-old daughter after an autopsy revealed the girl died from being forced to drink more than 2 liters of grape soda and water.

According to the Hawkins County Sheriff's Office and the autopsy report, Alexa Linboom was brought in to the emergency room on Jan. 1, 2012, by her father, Randall Vaughn, and his wife, Mary Vaughn.

"Our position is it was a matter of several hours after the child started exhibiting serious symptoms, after the child was screaming out in pain, went into a paralyzed state and became unconscious," Berkeley Bell, the district attorney, told The Times-News.

The girl was blue and not responding. She had severe brain damage. An investigation revealed the girl had been forced to drink the water and soda over one to two hours as punishment. The massive intake of fluid caused her brain to swell and herniate.

"Allegedly the child, as a form of punishment, was forced to drink grape drinks, as well as a great deal of water, to the point that her body became water intoxicated," Bell told the paper. "That led to her brain swelling and all of her systems shutting down, and to her eventual brain death. The punishment was allegedly for stealing a grape drink. I don’t know exactly how much liquid she drank , but there was 4.5 12 ounce drinks plus water in-between."

The couple is being held at the Hawkins County Jail on a $500,000 bond each.

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An Alabama high school senior may face disciplinary measures after she posted online a “selfie” photo with a human cadaver snapped during a class field trip, WHNT.com reported.

The female student was not identified, but took the photo during a trip to the University of Alabama Birmingham’s biology department, the report said. She later posted the picture on her Instagram account, the report said. The photo has since been removed.

The photo showed the teen smiling as she appears to hold a thin white sheet to expose the cadaver. Another student reportedly took a screen grab of her post, showed it to an older sister, who informed the school.

The station reported that students are told that they are not allowed to use any form of recording devices during the tour of the school's anatomical donor program. They are also told they cannot remove the sheets covering the donated bodies.

Administrators from Clements High School, in Limestone County, Ala., would not confirm the status of the student, but hope to preserve their relationship with the university.

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A fisherman thought to be from El Salvador who washed ashore on the Marshall Islands said he survived more than a year adrift in the Pacific Ocean, drinking turtle blood and catching fish and birds with his bare hands.

Jose Salvador Alvarenga, 37, told officials he set sail on a shark fishing trip from Mexico in late December 2012 - some 10,000 km (6,200 miles) away - but was blown out to sea.

He was found in a disoriented state on a remote coral atoll where he had been washed up over the weekend in his 7.3-meter (22-foot) fiberglass boat. A police patrol boat took him to Majuro, the capital of the islands.



"It was supposed to be a one-day fishing expedition, but they were blown off course by the northern winds," Thomas Armbruster, the U.S. Ambassador to the Marshall Islands, told the media.

A male nurse helped him down the gangplank before he was whisked away to hospital for medical checks.

"He got off the boat with a very bushy beard," Jack Niedenthal, a filmmaker based on Majuro, told Reuters by telephone.

"He's having trouble walking, his legs are very skinny. I'm not ready to call this a hoax; I think this guy has done some serious time at sea," Niedenthal said after speaking briefly to Alvarenga through an interpreter.

According to the authorities, Alvarenga, who has been a fisherman for 15 years, said he set sail with another fisherman, aged 15 to 18, but the teenager died a month into their ordeal.

They also said they were still gathering information and planned to contact his family in El Salvador and the United States.

In a statement, El Salvador's Foreign Ministry said it was working with ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

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