A tragic accident that saw an Ontario man run over his three-year-old son with a lawn mower is all the more shocking because of how easily it can happen, police said Friday.
The boy is in critical condition after the incident, which happened on Thursday night in the southern Ontario town of Pelham.
Const. Leslie Sardella of the Niagara Regional Police said investigators believe the incident was completely accidental and no charges are pending.
“It could have happened to anyone,” Sardella said in a telephone interview.
“Anyone who’s a parent knows that there are times that your child is around and you’re not aware of their presence. It’s a very, very unfortunate situation for this family.”
Sardella said the boy was injured around 9 p.m. when his father was cutting the lawn of the family home.
The 32-year-old man apparently believed his son was safely inside the house, but unbeknownst to him the child had slipped outside and had begun following his dad around the property.
When he put the riding mower in reverse, Sardella said he accidentally hit the child.
A neighbour who works as a paramedic in a nearby city rushed to the scene to help stabilize the child until emergency responders could get there. The toddler was eventually rushed to hospital with injuries that Sardella described as critical.
Police did not provide details on the nature of his injuries, and the boy’s name is not being released out of respect for the family’s request for privacy.
When lawn mowing accidents take place, some data suggests that children are by far the most likely victims.
The most recent figures compiled by the Canada Safety Council, which draws on statistics from the Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program, showed 1,161 people were injured by lawn mowers between 1990 and 2006. Of those, nearly 50 per cent were children under the age of 15. The program collects data from the emergency rooms of the 10 pediatric hospitals throughout Canada and four general hospitals.
Raynald Marchand, general manager of programs for the council, said the latest accident reinforces the importance of not taking kids’ actions for granted.
“Little ones, and I’ve had them, they really need constant supervision,” he said. “You can’t assume that somebody’s looking after them. You have to make sure.”
Sardella said the police’s traffic reconstruction unit is continuing to look into the case and will issue an update when more information is available.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Hundreds of boats plied deep floodwaters that have inundated thousands of homes in the Sri Lankan capital, delivering aid and rescuing the elderly and sick from rooftops as forecasters warned of more heavy rain.
The weeklong rains have caused chaos across Sri Lanka, unleashing deadly landslides and driving tens of thousands from their homes.
200 families feared dead by mudslides in Sri Lanka
8 killed, 8 still missing after floods, landslides in Sri Lanka
Since Monday, at least 58 people have died from lightning strikes, drowning, falling trees and landslides triggered by cyclonic rains that started Sunday. That includes at least 30 victims of torrential mudslides that swallowed three hillside villages in the central district of Kegalle, where hundreds were still missing.
Soldiers resumed searching for the missing Friday, but held little hope of finding survivors. The search effort was halted intermittently as continuing rain threatened to trigger more landslides.
“It’s a very difficult task, but troops will carry out their work in the hope of finding more” in the remote, disaster site about 72 kilometres (45 miles) north of Colombo, said military spokesman Brig. Jayanath Jayaweera.
The island was unlikely to get a reprieve on Friday, as the country’s meteorological department warned that rains and stormy seas were expected to continue through the day, especially in the southwest.
In the capital, electricity has been shut down in flooded areas to prevent electrocutions, and schools were closed across the country. Tens of thousands have been evacuated from homes across the island to some 594 shelters.
“Everything is gone,” said Mohomed Sabri, whose home in the Kolonnawa suburb of Colombo was completely submerged. “This … is unbelievable.”
The Indian navy said it was sending two ships with aid to Colombo. On Thursday, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera had said there was an urgent need for water purification tablets, water pumps and drinking water.
NEW DELHI – A city in western India has suffered through the country’s highest recorded temperature – a scorching 51 degrees Celsius (123.8 degrees Fahrenheit).
The record was set Thursday in the city of Phalodi, in the western state of Rajasthan. India’s meteorological department said the previous high was 50.6 C (123 F), reached in 1956 in the city of Alwar, also in Rajasthan.
Parts of India ban daytime cooking as hundreds die of heat
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Authorities have issued a severe heat wave alert for the next two days in the western states of Gujarat, Rajasthan and parts of the central state of Madhya Pradesh. That means the areas can expect temperatures of 47 C (116.6 F) or more.
The main summer months – April, May and June – are always excruciatingly hot across most parts of India before monsoon rains bring cooler temperatures.
The monsoon normally hits southern India in the first week of June and covers the rest of the nation within a month. It is especially eagerly awaited this year because several parts of the country are reeling under a drought brought on by two years of weak rains.
READ MORE: Parts of India ban daytime cooking as hundreds die of heat
Clare Nullis, a spokeswoman for the World Meteorological Organization, told reporters in Geneva on Friday during a briefing on record global temperatures that meteorologists expect this year’s Indian monsoon will bring more rain than normal, which would be good news for the drought-stricken regions.
“Obviously the monsoon hasn’t yet started. The intervening weeks will be quite serious. But I understand the Indian government is actually taking quite serious measures to address this,” she said.
In Rajasthan and Gujarat, authorities issued advisories urging people to remain indoors during the hottest parts of the day and stay hydrated.
Hospitals were asked to set aside beds to treat patients suffering from heatstroke.
Many people believe that certain foods help prevent heatstroke, and stalls selling a salty-sweet drink made of raw mangoes and ones selling sliced watermelon and cucumbers have been doing a brisk business.
The prolonged heat wave this year has already killed hundreds and destroyed crops in more than 13 states, impacting hundreds of millions of Indians.
READ MORE: Heat wave in India kills at least 160
Hundreds of farmers are reported to have killed themselves across the country and tens of thousands of small farmers have been forced to abandon their farmland and live in squalor in urban slums in order to eke out a living.
Rivers, lakes and dams have dried up in many parts of the western states of Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat, and officials say groundwater reservoirs are severely depleted.
In some areas, the situation is so bad the government has sent in water by train for emergency relief.
CAIRO — Egyptian air and naval forces have spotted a body part, passengers’ personal belongings and other debris from EgyptAir flight 804 that crashed in the Mediterranean Sea, killing 66 passengers and crew who were en route from Paris to Cairo, the Egyptian army and Greek defense minister said Friday.
With no bodies to bury, relatives and friends of some of the 66 people on board held special prayers in mosques for the lost.
The passengers included two Canadians.
The mystery remained over why the Airbus A320 – which had been cruising normally in clear skies on a nighttime flight from Paris to Cairo early Thursday – suddenly lurched left and then right and plummeted into the sea, never issuing a distress signal.
Egyptian authorities said they believe it may have been an act of terrorism, as have Russian officials and some aviation experts, but so far no hard evidence has emerged.
No militant group has claimed to have brought down the aircraft. That is a contrast to the downing of a Russian jet in October over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula that killed 224 people. In that case, the Islamic State group’s branch in Sinai issued a claim of responsibility within hours.
Body part, seats and suitcases from EgyptAir flight found in water, say officials
Body part, seats and suitcases from EgyptAir flight found in water, say officials
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Three European security officials said the passenger manifest for EgyptAir Flight 804 contained no names on terrorism watch lists. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation. The manifest was leaked online and has not been verified by EgyptAir.
Still, the tragedy has fueled suspicions of terrorism, especially in light of the bombing of the Russian plane and the recent extremist attacks in Paris and Brussels. Some aviation experts have said the circumstances suggest a bomb blast.
Experts said answers will come only with examination of the wreckage and the plane’s black box recorders. But retrieving them may take time. The water is 8,000 to 10,000 feet deep in the area where the jetliner is thought to have gone down, roughly halfway between Egypt’s coastal city of Alexandria and the Greek island of Crete.
READ MORE: 2 Canadian citizens on board downed EgyptAir Flight MS804: Foreign Affairs
Friday brought the first confirmation of debris from the crash. The Egyptian army said it found debris around 180 miles (290 kilometres) north of Alexandria, and that it was searching for more. EgyptAir said luggage and seats were found, as well as body parts.
France, Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Britain have joined the search, which encompasses a wide area south of Crete. Investigators from Egypt, France and Britain as well from Airbus will examine everything found in the search, Egyptian officials said.
In Egypt – home to 30 of those on the flight – Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi informed relatives there were no survivors, the Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper said.
In several mosques around the Egyptian capital, families and friends of the victims held what is known as “Salat al-Ghaib,” Arabic for “prayers for the absent.” Those are held for the dead when there is no body.
At the al-Thawra Mosque in Cairo’s Heliopolis district, mourners wept as they prayed for a family of four who were killed – Salah Abu Laban, his wife, Sahar Qouidar, their son Ghassan Abu Laban and daughter-in-law Reem al-Sebaei.
“I ask God for forgiveness. This is very hard for the family,” a relative, Abdel-Rahman al-Nasry, told The Associated Press.
President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s office issued a statement expressing its condolences to relatives and its “deep regret and sadness for the victims.”
“God give great mercy and host them in his heaven,” it added.
The statement marked the first official recognition by Egypt’s government that the missing plane had crashed.
READ MORE: Timeline of EgyptAir Flight MS804 crash
The crash has struck a demoralizing blow to Egypt. The economy has been gutted by years of turmoil since the 2011 overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak, and the Russian plane crash caused a new plunge in tourism, one of the country’s main money makers.
Egyptian security officials said they were running background checks on the passengers to see if any had links to extremists.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault asserted Friday on France-2 television that there is “absolutely no indication” of what caused the crash.
Amid fears that a security lapse may have led to the tragedy, France’s junior minister for transport, Alain Vidalies, defended security at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport, saying staff badges are revoked if there is the slightest doubt.
The pilot, Mohammed Shoukair, was experienced by Egyptian standards, with 6,275 flying hours, and co-pilot Ahmed Assem had clocked 2,101 hours, officials said.
A terror analyst who is in contact with members of the Islamic State group and other jihadist groups said there have been “no credible or even semi-credible” claims of responsibility for the flight’s crash.
Shiraz Maher at the International Center for the Study of Radicalisation in London said the Islamic State released a 20-minute video Thursday about its plans to conquer India.
“If they had been involved in the crash,” he said, “it would be very odd for them to have sent that video rather than boasting of the crash.”
British Columbia’s Haida Gwaii islands, with their long, rugged coastlines, temperate rainforest and unique wildlife, attract people from around the world to an area often referred to as ‘the Galapagos of the North.’
But what most travellers don’t expect to see on their visit to Haida Gwaii is the amount of plastic waste that washes up on the islands’ supposedly immaculate shores.
Because of their geographical location in the Pacific Ocean, far from the B.C. mainland, the islands of Haida Gwaii have always been hit by a steady influx of marine debris.
But in recent years, the amount of plastic items drifting ashore has been growing, raising concern for local residents.
The beaches of Haida Gwaii that are accessible to the general public get the benefit of beachcombers cleaning up some of the debris. But some of the more remote locations, only accessible by boat or air, nearly never get cleaned up, leaving debris to pile up.
Taking a stroll down the remote, sandy East Beach, on the northeastern tip of Haida Gwaii, you can go for miles without seeing another human being.
But the signs of civilization can be seen everywhere.
Poking out of the sand and jammed between beach logs are plastic bottles, containers, marine buoys, fishing baskets and gear, pieces of Styrofoam, used tires, and even toothbrushes and rubber shoes.
PHOTO GALLERY: Marine debris on the East Beach in Naikoon Provincial Park, the north-eastern tip of Haida Gwaii.
But it’s what you don’t immediately see that shows the true extent of the problem.
Tiny pieces of broken-up plastic, sometimes only a few millimetres in diameter, are so numerous they often mix in with the sand — making it virtually impossible for even some of the more experienced beachcombers to see and pick up.
“Sometimes you cruise by in a boat and it looks like the beach is clean, but then you look under the logs and there are tiny pieces of plastic everywhere,” says Trent Moraes, a local resident whose company, Highlander Marine Services Ltd., helps clean up the debris.
Mulched pieces of plastic rest on a log on the East Beach in Haida Gwaii.
Yuliya Talmazan, Global News
Why are the people of Haida Gwaii sounding the alarm about plastic pollution?
Plastic is used in many aspects of our daily lives because of how cheap and durable it is.
A report released in January suggests plastic production has surged over the past 50 years, from 15 million tonnes in 1964 to 311 million tonnes in 2014.
The number is expected to double again over the next 20 years.
But, the report also suggests that if our plastic consumption habits stay the way they are, oceans are expected to contain more plastics than fish by year 2050.
READ MORE: Plastic in ocean could outweigh fish by 2050
More than 260,000 tonnes of plastic are currently floating in the ocean, including some 5.25 trillion individual pieces, and at least eight million tonnes of plastic leak into the ocean every year.
Why is there a concern about small pieces of plastic accumulating on Haida Gwaii’s beaches?
The tiny pieces of plastic that Moraes and other island residents have been noticing in recent years are the result of plastic debris getting weathered and pulverized by the force of the ocean.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says plastic will degrade into small pieces until you can’t see it anymore, but it never really fully goes away.
Instead, it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, a process that’s exacerbated by UV radiation, saltwater and the force of the surf.
From afar, this beach may look relatively clean. However, it’s what’s hiding between the logs that’s raising a concern.
Yuliya Talmazan, Global News
That means every single piece of plastic ever created still exists today.
In fact, Greenpeace suggests a single one-litre plastic bottle could break down into enough small fragments to put one on every mile of beach in the entire world.
NOAA says plastic debris can accumulate pollutants such as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) up to 100,000 to 1,000,000 times the levels found in seawater. While it’s still unclear whether these pollutants can seep from plastic debris into the organisms that happen to eat the debris, there is a serious concern that these contaminants may transfer through the food chain and all the way up to human consumption.
Researchers have found small pieces of plastic found in the stomachs of many marine organisms, from plankton to whales. When fish and other marine life ingest small pieces of plastic, it could cause irritation or do damage to their digestive system, leading to malnutrition or starvation.
UNESCO estimates plastic debris causes the deaths of more than a million seabirds every year, as well as more than 100,000 marine mammals.
In Haida Gwaii, the problem is further exacerbated by powerful storms pushing deteriorated plastic along with other debris all the way up into the tree line, where it becomes part of the forest ecosystem, buried in the greenery and covered by moss – a disturbing sight for locals and tourists alike.
PHOTO GALLERY: Marine debris collected in Englefield Bay on the west coast of Haida Gwaii
The trick is to remove plastic debris from local beaches before it gets churned by the sea and pushed into the tree line, where it starts disintegrating to the point where removal is virtually impossible.
The Haida Gwaii Tsunami Debris Committee
After the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in 2011, it was expected that Haida Gwaii would be hit with an increased volume of marine debris.
So, in 2013, after the Japanese government offered Canada $1 million to help support the tsunami clean-up effort, community members joined forces to take things into their own hands and formed the Haida Gwaii Tsunami Debris Committee.
The committee received a chunk of the Japanese funding — about $139,000. That allowed the group to hire contractors from around Haida Gwaii to clean up nearly 40 kilometers of local beaches and remove some 630 cubic meters of debris.
Some of the debris is undoubtedly from Japan, but a substantial amount is what they just call “world garbage.”
“Most of the plastic is not from a source that we can control,” said marine ecologist Lynn Lee, a member of the Haida Gwaii Tsunami Debris Committee. “It comes from the Great Pacific garbage patch, industrial waste, fishing vessels.
“These things happen outside of the boundaries of Haida Gwaii, but they are affecting the region.”
READ MORE: Why our oceans are choking on our garbage and how we can stop it
Contractors have to use specialized trucks and boats to remove the debris from the remote beaches around Haida Gwaii — and they’re usually filled up to capacity.
“We can fill a boat within hours sometimes,” said Moraes.
At least a dozen bags of debris removed from the Kaisun beach in Englefield Bay, Haida Gwaii on May 15, 2016.
The committee is also experimenting with using a helicopter to lift the debris out of very remote areas, but that would require substantially more money. The committee got an additional $115,000 from Japanese debris clean-up money this year. But this is the final round of funding, which officially runs out in March 2017.
The committee is also looking into the possibility of chartering a barge to remove a larger amount of the debris all at one time. While it may not be economically feasible at this point, the debris collected on a barge could be shipped to a recycling facility.
Currently, a great deal of the collected marine garbage ends up at a local landfill. A few items get recycled by local fishermen and a small portion goes into a smaller local recycling operation, but the majority of the debris, including deteriorated plastics, are left to rot in the ground.
Moraes and others are looking into bringing in technology that could potentially convert marine garbage into biofuel.
Impact on tourism
James Cowpar, the operator of local tour company called Haida Styles, said guides often take guests to areas heavily impacted by plastic pollution.
The reaction is nearly always the same — people are stunned by what they see and want to help.
“You can imagine going to an ancient village site in Gwaii Haanas and the first thing you are going to see is garbage,” said Cowpar. “We have actually taken guests out to participate [in the clean-ups] and we found it very rewarding. While on tour, we try to grab as much [garbage] as we can.”
He said educating visitors and talking about the bigger picture is part of their company’s mandate.
Part of their effort to help mitigate the situation involves not carrying plastic water bottles for their clients on their tour boats and using water containers with reusable cups instead.
So far, he said, the reaction from their guests has been nothing but positive.
“Global pollution is a huge problem,” said Cowpar. “People believe that national parks and protected areas are free of pollution and that’s simply not the case. It tends to be an indirect dumping ground.”
What can be done?
With the Japanese funding drying up, Moraes said he wants to see more support from all levels of Canadian government.
He said there should also be a feasibility study done on how to handle the amount of the debris coming in the future.
“There is so much work to be done. We have been going strong for the last few years, but we are still not even close to getting it all collected,” said Moraes. “We really need to figure something out for the long-term: find some dedicated money for this. The province and the federal government really should step up and address this huge issue.”
The B.C. Ministry of Environment told Global News there are no immediate plans to fund the non-tsunami debris clean-up. The ministry said further resources will be allocated as necessary if a major increase in tsunami debris is experienced.
But Lucy Stefanyk, the Haida Gwaii supervisor with BC Parks and a member of the committee, said marine debris, including plastics, will always be something that they will continue to grapple with.
“The notion of ‘pristine’ and ‘untouched’ across the entire coastline, I don’t think that exists anymore,” she said. “The civilization has impacted the most remote corners of our beaches. We can’t prevent what’s coming on our shores. But the hope is that, as global communities are more mindful about what’s happening in the ocean, there will be more funding and attention paid to the ocean’s health overall. The trickle of global garbage will always be slowly coming in for our shores, but I think we can have an impact on how much we see in the future.”
Lee said raising awareness about marine garbage in Haida Gwaii is also an opportunity to show the world how its actions somewhere far away are having an impact on a place like the islands.
“There is no easy solution aside from minimizing plastic production and use,” Lee said.
How much plastic garbage do Canadians produce?
Canada produces about two per cent of the total world volume of plastic products. Canadian and worldwide demand for plastic products are expected to continue growing faster than the economy as a whole.
Currently, Canadians take home an estimated 55 million plastic bags per week, for a total of 2.86 billion bags per year.
Canadians also consume more than two billion litres of bottled water a year, and globally, we consume about 190 billion litres a year.
“Reduce what you are consuming, reduce the overusing,” said Lee, adding plastic pollution is just a symptom of a larger problem.
“The less we feel like we have to use in order to live our lives, the better the world will be,” she said. “As the number of people on the planet is increasing, we have no choice but to think more carefully on a global scale about the choices that we make as individuals. If we choose not to buy those things that are covered in plastic and those disposable items, then we are all better off.”