Arrow-right Camera


U.S. couple killed in plane crash

Belize City An American couple killed in a plane crash in Belize blamed on Tropical Storm Gamma’s heavy rain and winds were newlyweds on their honeymoon, a relative said Monday.

The crash on Friday killed the Belizean pilot, Rene Ram, and two passengers aboard a private plane belonging to Blancaneaux Lodge, an exclusive jungle resort owned by the filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola.

The Americans were identified as Douglas Scratchley Jr. and his wife Cristy Dy Scratchley of St. Petersburg, Fla., according to the man’s father, Douglas Scratchley Sr., and U.S. officials in Belize.

“They were on their honeymoon,” Douglas Scratchley said by telephone. “They had planned this whole trip, and whatever the resort they were going to was having a big party for them Friday evening.”

Civil aviation authorities said heavy winds and rains from Gamma were a factor in the crash – which saw the plane fall into a ravine near another exclusive ranch.

Gamma, the 24th named storm of an already record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season, weakened into a tropical depression after killing 11 people in Honduras and three in Belize.

Bosnian peacekeeping force extended a year

United Nations

The U.N. Security Council extended the European Union peacekeeping force in Bosnia for a year on Monday and welcomed the Balkan nation’s progress toward EU membership 10 years after a peace agreement ended a bitterly divisive war.

A resolution adopted unanimously by the council also extended NATO’s mandate to assist the 6,500-strong EU peacekeeping mission in Bosnia.

The council voted on the peacekeeping measures hours after EU foreign ministers authorized the start of negotiations on an agreement to prepare Bosnia for membership. The EU said the negotiations would start Friday in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo.

The EU and U.N. actions came a decade after Bosnia was ravaged by 3 1/2 years of Europe’s worst fighting since World War II. Ceremonies are scheduled in Washington on Tuesday to mark the 10th anniversary of the Dayton, Ohio peace agreement that ended the war.

Breast-feeding could save more lives

Geneva Breast feeding is saving the lives of 6 million babies a year, but more than twice that could be saved if more mothers would use the time-honored method, the U.N. children’s agency said Tuesday.

Thirty-nine percent of infants in developing countries are exclusively breast fed, UNICEF said, blaming “lack of awareness amongst mothers, and lack of support from health workers and communities.”

A total of 1.3 million lives could be saved each year if mothers followed its recommendation of exclusive breast feeding up until six months, then complementary feeding for at least two years, Miriam Labbok of UNICEF said in a statement. UNICEF said breast milk gives a baby ideal nourishment and disease immunity.

Global breast-feeding rates rose at least 15 percent from 1990 and 2000, UNICEF said, as advocacy groups campaigned for the practice.

Military pulls last plane out of Uzbekistan

Tashkent, Uzbekistan The U.S. military flew its last plane Monday out of an air base in Uzbekistan that had been an important hub for American military operations in Afghanistan, a U.S. official said.

In July, hard-line President Islam Karimov ordered the U.S. troops to leave the base within six months after Washington joined international condemnation of a bloody government crackdown in the eastern city of Andijan that human rights groups say killed hundreds of civilians.

“The last plane left the air base in Karshi-Khanabad” on Monday afternoon, U.S. military attache Gregory White said in Tashkent.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Joe Carpenter said the withdrawal had been taking place gradually in the past several months.


Click here to comment on this story »