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Avalanches kill skiers in France

Chambery, France Avalanches swept away and killed four skiers at four French Alpine resorts on Tuesday, police said.

The four avalanches each killed one person – at Val Thorens, La Plagne and the Arcs on Tuesday morning and at Val d’Isere in the afternoon.

The Alps have had heavy snowfalls since Saturday and France’s weather bureau had warned of an elevated risk of avalanches.

In Austria, search parties failed for a fourth consecutive day to locate the body of an American snowboarder killed last weekend in an avalanche in the Alps.

About 70 searchers, including 50 soldiers and members of the country’s mountain rescue squad, struggled without success to locate the missing American, who was buried Saturday in up to 13 feet of snow and ice, officials told the Austria Press Agency.

The snowboarder was swept away by a large avalanche that killed three other people, all Canadians, at the popular resort of St. Anton. The missing American was one of four U.S. citizens in their 30s, officials said. No other details were released.

Guard testifies at murder-by-lion case

Phalaborwa, South Africa A security guard took the stand Tuesday in a trial of a white South African farmer accused of feeding a former employee to lions, saying he witnessed the attack but was too far away to intervene.

Police say that during a labor dispute, Mark Scott-Crossley, owner of the Engedi Game Farm, and two of his workers beat, hacked with a machete and tossed Nelson Chisale over a fence into a park where rare white lions are bred.

Police later found bones, torn clothes and a skull in the enclosure.

The trio faced murder charges, but one of the workers – Richard Mathebula – entered a surprise guilty plea Monday, saying he was merely following Scott-Crossley’s orders.

A security guard at the game farm, Forget Tsaku Ndlovu, testified Tuesday that he saw men assaulting Chisale, who was black. Ndlovu said he was too far away to help and had no cell phone to call police, the South African Press Association reported.

Ndlovu said he later saw the third suspect, Simon Mathebula, at the farm gate with blood on his sleeves and hat.

Two killed in string of quakes in Turkey

Ankara, Turkey A string of moderate earthquakes shook Turkey’s border with Iran on Tuesday evening, killing two people and damaging dozens of buildings, seismologists and officials said.

The temblors cracked walls or caused other damage to about 80 buildings, sending people fleeing from their homes into freezing temperatures in snow-covered Hakkari province, the Anatolia news agency reported.

The quakes – the strongest with a preliminary magnitude of 5.5 – destroyed a house in the village of Kaymakli, crushing two people to death, Gov. Erdogan Gurbuz said.

At least 22 people were injured when they jumped from windows or balconies in panic, officials and news reports said. Four others were treated for shock.

The quakes occurred about 870 miles southeast of the Turkish capital, Ankara, the Istanbul-based Kandilli Observatory said.

Trafficking in humans now No. 2 crime

Vienna, Austria Trafficking people for forced labor and sexual slavery has become the world’s No. 2 most lucrative crime, and terrorists are using shadowy underground networks to move around, a senior U.S. counter-trafficking official warned Tuesday.

Human trafficking, particularly the smuggling and enslavement of young women for prostitution, is tied with weapons smuggling as the second-largest illegal moneymaking activity, said T. March Bell, the Justice Department’s senior special counsel for trafficking issues and civil rights.

Only the narcotics trade reaps more profits for organized crime, but traffickers are earning billions of dollars exploiting tens of millions of victims each year, Bell said, calling it “the No. 1 human rights issue today.”

The profits are huge, he told reporters, citing the example of a brothel owner in Southeast Asia who typically might pay $8,000 for a young woman. “We think that owner can make a $200,000 profit on that $8,000 investment,” Bell said.

Terrorists also are taking advantage of sophisticated smuggling operations to obtain counterfeit passports and transit to Western countries to plot or carry out attacks, he said.


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