Best of our wild blogs: 13 Jan 16

Diving into 2016!
Hantu Blog

Happenings at the Marine Park as the year turns
Sisters' Island Marine Park

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Bringing more greenery into Singapore's built environment

“We should continue to preserve and protect our greenery, but the next level is to bring more greenery into our urban and built environment," says National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.
Liyana Othman Channel NewsAsia 12 Jan 16;

SINGAPORE: Turning Singapore into a Garden City is not just a way to set the country apart, but it is also a social strategy to make sure greenery is accessible to everyone, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong on Tuesday (Jan 12).

Speaking at a dialogue session called "Greening Our City - Innovation, Ideas and Solution", Mr Wong said one broad theme that was raised by the participants was bringing greenery into Singapore's built environment.

This is the National Development Ministry's first dialogue with the public under a series of SGFuture engagement sessions on creating a cleaner, greener and smarter Singapore. About 40 people, including industry players and youths, shared their ideas on how greenery can be incorporated outside traditional spaces like parks.

Said Mr Wong: “We have done very well to plant trees to make Singapore a garden city. That strategy has worked and we should continue tree planting. We should not stop.

“We should continue to preserve and protect our greenery, but the next level is to bring more greenery into our urban and built environment.”

He added that some of the ideas could get a boost from technology. For instance, robots can be used in urban farms or to help maintain the greenery in skyrise gardens.

However, Mr Wong said all these suggestions to make Singapore greener can only happen with community ownership. Everyone has a part to play to make this vision a reality, he added.

- CNA/xk

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Dengue cases spike, with a further rise likely: NEA

A total of 554 cases were reported during the week ending Jan 9 - 96 cases more than the previous week, according to the National Environment Agency, which added that a change in the main type of dengue virus circulating could be an early indicator of a future outbreak.
Channel NewsAsia 12 Jan 16;

SINGAPORE: There has been an “increasing trend” of dengue cases in Singapore, with the figures likely to rise as the weather heats up, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said on Tuesday (Jan 12).

A total of 554 cases were reported during the week ending Jan 9, 96 cases more than the previous week, latest figures on the NEA website showed. Between Jan 10 and 3.30pm on Jan 11, there were another 121 reported cases.

NEA warned that there has been an increase in the Aedes mosquito population, with the warmer-than-usual weather shortening the breeding and maturation cycles of the mosquitoes, as well as the incubation periods for the dengue virus.

It said source eradication of mosquito breeding habitats remains a key component in preventing the spread of the virus, which is why intensive source reduction exercises (ISREs) have been stepped up,

"Previously, it was actually done in mid-February to March itself, but within this year, because of the high number of dengue cases, as well as the temperature changes, NEA has urged all stakeholders to start the ISREs, some of them in December itself. But most of us started in January, at the start of the year," said Mr Albert Lee, a councillor for the Singapore Pest Management Association.

Additionally, the proportion of dengue cases due to the DENV-2 serotype has increased and now accounts for more than two-thirds of all dengue cases serotyped in Singapore, the agency said. Previously, the DENV-1 serotype accounted for most of the dengue cases in Singapore since March 2013.

“This change in the main circulating dengue virus may be an early indicator of a future dengue outbreak, unless measures are taken to suppress the Aedes mosquito population,” NEA said on its website.

Currently, Singapore's biggest dengue cluster is in the Tampines area, with a total of 206 reported cases. As of Jan 7, the area had 195 cases, 81 of which involved foreign workers at a construction site.

The Land Transport Authority said all the affected workers have since recovered and are back at work.

The chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for National Development and Environment Lee Bee Wah said more needs to be done to raise awareness of the dengue problem.

"From my experience of doing house visits - whenever there are dengue cases, I try to visit that block - when I talk to residents that there are dengue cases in this block, some residents ask me 'are there?'. So that means the awareness is still not there," said Ms Lee, who is also an MP for Nee Soon GRC.

To help stem the transmission of the virus, NEA reminded the public to check their premises daily for potential mosquito breeding habitats.

“Residents with plants in vases should change the water and scrub the inside of the vases every alternate day to prevent mosquito breeding. Those infected with dengue should also apply repellent as regularly as possible to prevent mosquitoes from biting and picking up the virus from them, and those showing symptoms suggestive of dengue should see their GPs early to be diagnosed,” it said.

- CNA/cy/ek

Dengue cases, already at record, likely to rise
LOUISA TANG Today Online 12 Jan 16;

SINGAPORE — It is barely halfway through January and Singapore is already seeing a record number of dengue cases, an unusual trend for this time of the year. Today (Jan 12), the National Environment Agency (NEA) warned that figures are likely to rise as the weather heats up.

The proportion of dengue cases due to the DENV-2 serotype, a common type of dengue virus here, has also risen sharply and now accounts for two-thirds of all dengue cases here, up from about half of all cases just a month ago, the agency said in an advisory. The DENV-1 serotype has accounted for most cases here since March 2013.

The NEA attributed the spike in cases to an increase in the Aedes mosquito population and a “slightly warmer-than-usual year-end weather due to the El Nino phenomenon”, which shortens the dengue virus’ incubation periods as well as the mosquitoes’ breeding and maturation cycles.

“This change in the main circulating dengue virus may be an early indicator of a future dengue outbreak, unless measures are taken to suppress the Aedes mosquito population,” the NEA said.

Between Jan 3 and 9, there were already 554 dengue cases — 96 more than the 458 cases seen the week before that, which was the highest recorded in 2015. Another 121 cases surfaced from Jan 10 to 3.30pm on Jan 11. The figures are higher than in past periods: In the first week of January 2013, there were about 125 cases, and in the same period in 2014, there were about 425.

Associate Professor Ooi Eng Eong, deputy director of the Duke-NUS Medical School’s Emerging Infectious Disease Programme, explained that to have DENV-2 resurfacing now — after it was the predominant dengue virus from 2007 to 2013 — may not be due to a lack of herd immunity, which is the threshold proportion of a population that has been infected before an epidemic dies out.

Herd immunity may drop with new birth cohorts and influx of people, but Assoc Prof Ooi believes there are other factors at play. “The replication of the dengue virus genome is error-prone, and occasionally gives rise to strains that spread more effectively in populations,” he said.

The good thing is that those who had been infected with the DENV-2 virus would not get it again, he added.

Infectious diseases professor Annelies Wilder-Smith from Nanyang Technological University’s Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine said this switch in serotype from DENV-1 to DENV-2 “is not unusual”, and could be the reason behind the continued dengue outbreak. “For now, we see an outbreak that is unusual for this time of the year, and it could indeed herald a larger outbreak year for 2016,” she added.

Two dengue types most common here:

There are four different dengue serotypes, with DENV-1 and DENV-2 being the two most common ones here.

The DENV-2 virus is more complex than other serotypes, because it changes structure in the human body, preventing previous antibodies from binding to new structures. Various strains can emerge as the virus mutates, with some spreading more easily than others.

In 2013, Singapore faced its worst dengue epidemic: Over 22,000 people were infected and seven died when the dengue serotype being transmitted switched from DENV-2 to DENV-1. Clinical trials are expected to begin at the end of this year after a team of scientists and engineers in Singapore said they have engineered an antibody that can neutralise all four virus serotypes.

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Malaysia: Benalec gets DoE’s nod for reclaiming 677ha for maritime industrial park

The Star 13 Jan 16;

PETALING JAYA: Benalec Holdings Bhd has received the Department of Environment’s (DoE) conditional approval for the reclamation works on 677.2ha in Teluk Ramunia for the development of Pengerang maritime industrial park.

The marine construction services company told Bursa Malaysia that the Detailed Environment Impact Assessment (DEIA) study submitted by its 70% owned subsidiary, Spektrum Budi Sdn Bhd, and Johor State Secretary Inc had been approved by DoE on Jan 7.

The Pengerang project is Benalec’s second reclamation project in Johor.

Benalec had received the DoE’s go-ahead to start work on its other reclamation project for the 1,410ha Tanjung Piai Integrated Petroleum and Maritime Industrial Park in Pontian in January last year.

That project is carried out by 70% owned Spektrum Kukuh Sdn Bhd, but actual reclamation works had not started as of October last year.

Benalec’s Pengerang venture is earmarked as a container port to complement the nearby Petroliam Nasional Bhd’s Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development project.

The DoE’s approval is valid for two years from the date of the letter of approval.

Its approval of the study is conditional on various terms and conditions, such as the reclamation works must be carried out in two phases (477.8ha and 199.4ha) and include the construction of drainage channel, construction of jetty and development of land reclamation.

Also, Spekrum Budi must get the necessary approvals from the state government and relevant governmental departments before the proposed project is implemented.

Moreover, the condition of approvals and recommendations in the DEIA report must be incorporated as terms and conditions to be fulfilled by any contractor/subcontractor involved in the implementation of the proposed project of tender documents and contractual agreements.

Benalec said the proposed project was expected to provide the group with the springboard for enhancing its business sustainability and upscaling its growth prospects over the next 10 years and beyond.

Benalec signed a development agreement with Johor in late 2011, which gave the company the right to reclaim land at two sites in south Johor, namely Tanjung Piai for 20 years and Pengerang for 10 years.

According to reports, Benalec’s partners in Spektrum Budi and Spektrum Kukuh are the crown prince of Johor, Tunku Ismail Idris Tunku Ibrahim and Daing A Malek Daing A Rahaman.

Benalec shares rise to one-month high
The Star 14 Jan 16;

PETALING JAYA: Shares of marine construction specialist Benalec Holdings Bhd climbed to a one-month high on expectations that the company will accelerate land-reclamation works after securing the Department of Environment’s (DoE) greenlight to start work on a second site in Johor.

The stock rose 4.5% or 2.5 sen to 57.5 sen.

The company recently received the DoE’s conditional approval for the reclamation works on 677.2ha in Teluk Ramunia for the development of Pengerang maritime industrial park.

The company plans to start the reclamation works in Teluk Ramunia some time in the third quarter. The company’s reclamation works for the Integrated Petroleum and Chemical Hub located in Tanjung Piai, Johor started last December.

“We have currently reclaimed about seven acres of land in Tanjung Piai and expect the first 100 acres to be reclaimed by July this year,” it said.

Benalec seeks JV partners
NADYA NGUI The Star 16 Jan 16;

Firm to turn reclaimed land into petrochemical storage farms

MARINE engineering firm Benalec Holdings Bhd makes its business by reclaiming land from the sea and selling plots of newly created land to property developers.

That is its strategy in Malacca, but the company has other plans for its other reclamation projects in Johor, where it hope to turn part of the intended reclaimed land in Tanjung Piai into petrochemical storage farms.

“We have been actively engaging prospective clients for the project,” business development manager Brian Mak told StarBizWeek in an email reply.

Benalec recently started reclamation work at Tanjung Piai and is targeting to reclaim the first 100 acres by July this year.

The Tanjung Piai reclamation work is for 1,410 acres and the company earlier this week received the Department of Environment’s (DoE) greenlight to start the reclamation work at Teluk Ramunia.

“The group is amendable to accepting an equity interest in the potential client’s storage facilities or cargo terminal by way of part settlement of the purchase consideration of our reclaimed land,” Mak says.

The tank storage venture will create a new revenue source for the group.

Mak says Benalec is prepared to sell, lease or enter into a joint venture arrangement with interested parties to develop its reclaimed land project.

Land reclamation is done by filling an area with large amounts of heavy rock and/or cement, then filling it with clay and sand until the desired height is reached.

Storage shift

The Tanjung Piai reclamation work will have a considerable focus on storage for the oil and gas industry, where it has attracted the interest of players in the business of oil storage.

“When we take equity in a tank storage facility, Benalec will also receive recurring income from leasing out the tanks,” Mak says.

In a report, Mak says the company is willing to partner with existing storage operators to build and operate facilities within the area, and that an oil terminal could be operational as early as 2018.

It is understood that the prevailing oversupply of crude oil and its related products represents a positive direction for this industry as excess inventory has to be stored.

Suppliers need space to park oil and due to the shortage of storage area, some companies store their oil in tankers.

“To store it onshore is more economical,” says an analyst.

Tanjung Piai’s strategic location, where its near to Singapore serves as a hub for those based in Johor and Singapore.

Tanjung Piai is also well-positioned to absorb storage interest from Singapore, which is rapidly running out of land for development and has no more seafront opportunities to offer prospective operators, a report says.

“In turn, this presents interesting business opportunities to the Benalec and enables us to not only diversify, but to create future streams of stable recurring revenue,” he says.

It is expected that the total reclamation of the Tanjung Piai job will take up to 15 years to complete.

That project is carried out by 70% owned Spektrum Kukuh Sdn Bhd.

According to reports, among the directors of Spectrum Kukuh are the Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Idris Sultan Ibrahim and Daing A Malek Daing A Rahaman, who are said to be partners to Benalec in the Tanjung Piai project.

To finance the large job, Benalec has successfully raised RM200mil from the issuance of Redeemable Convertible Secured Bonds in April last year to kick start the project.

With two major jobs under its belt, the impact on its share price can be positive. However, Benalac’s shares have been trending down since its listing in January 2011.

However, its stock has been in focus in recent days after Benalec received the Department of Environment’s (DoE) greenlight for the reclamation works on Teluk Ramunia.

Benalec’s Pengerang venture is earmarked as a container port to complement the nearby Petronas’ Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development project.

Benalec said the Detailed Environment Impact Assessment (DEIA) study submitted by its 70% owned subsidiary, Spektrum Budi Sdn Bhd, and Johor State Secretary Inc had been approved by DoE on Jan 7.

Mak says there is a considerable amount of preliminary work that needs to be done before the actual reclamation works can start off towards the end of this year.

Benalec will reclaim 1,673 acres of land.

“Hence the third or fourth quarter this year is a realistic timeline for us to discharge the first load of sand to flag off the official start of reclamation works,” Mak says.

Located close to the mega Petronas Rapid project, Benalec’s Pengerang project is strategically positioned to benefit from “spillover” investments from Rapid, which is expected to commence operations in 2019.

With population growth, comes opportunities for industries, transportation of goods, warehousing and cargo handling facilities, says Mak.

“Furthermore the gestation period for completion of our reclamation work on a phase-by-phase basis is relatively long.

“So it is reasonable to take the view that, as with business cycles, crude oil price will rebound within the next two to three years. This timeline dovetails nicely with our planned project progression,” adds Mak.

Spoiled by cheap oil

Despite weak oil prices, Mak says Benalec benefits from cheap oil as fuel is one of its major construction costs.

On the impact of a weak ringgit, most of its construction materials are locally sourced, so the impact is minimal.

Looking forward, Benalec remains justifiably confident in maintaining a positive outlook over the next few years, riding on its two major contracts.

Mak says Benalec is currently evaluating some potential reclamation projects in Peninsular Malaysia.

The group, which also does reclamation work in Malacca, boasts some sales revenue of about RM467.6mil contributed from the land sale of Taman Kota Laksamana, measuring 250 acres.

In addition, a 415-acre reclamation contract for Oriental Boon Siew (M) Sdn Bhd will pump in a further RM203mil for the group.

From Benalec’s point of view, Malacca is a mature market and prospects for land sales as well as price growth remain positive.

Coupled with a substantial acreage of land it will reclaim in Johor, the group’s venture into Johor provides the springboard for achieving business sustainability and good growth prospects over the next 10 years and beyond.

However, on a cautious note, the group has to temper its optimism by recognising that China, the world’s largest oil consumer, is experiencing slower growth.

“While we remain confident that Tanjung Piai will be host to multiple oil storage terminals, there remains a timeline risk as markets digest the myriad of dynamics in the business environment – oil prices, volatility, trends, financial leverage and the performance of the ringgit,” the group says.

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Malaysia: Rice bogged in by soft soil

LO TERN CHERN The Star 13 Jan 16;

NIBONG TEBAL: Padi farmers here are facing difficulty in harvesting their crop after water inundated their fields due to heavy rain over the past few days.

The padi in Sungai Acheh was ready to be harvested but farmers cannot reach the crop as their machines get bogged down in the soggy soil.

Sungai Star Besar area farmer unit chief Ismail Din, 64, said farmers were losing money as the clock ticked and many of them had to hire extra labour to manually harvest the crop, which was costly and time consuming.

“Now, a bag of padi seeds costs about RM20, and four bags are required to plant a square plot. In total, it will cost about RM1,500 to operate a plot from seeding to harvest.”

Another farmer, Suhaimi Mat Esa, 47, said he did not finish harvesting his padi crop, which was supposed to be done by mid-December last year.

“The harvesting has been badly delayed due to the rain and the padi plots are now overgrown. Most of the rice is now too dry and it will cause the rice inside the husk to crack and break easily.

“The plants are now mature and tall but the soil is still soggy and this has caused the plants to topple easily.

“When it topples, the rice at the end of it gets submerged in water,” he said yesterday.

Suhaimi said if the quality of the padi dropped further, he could end up selling it as cheap animal feed.

“I produced about four tonnes of rice last season, in June last year, but this time I’ll be lucky to get 500kg. This season’s harvest is the worst in my 20 years as a farmer.

“My rice harvester became stuck in about 0.6m of mud and I was only able to free it on Sunday with help from other farmers,” he added.

Sungai Acheh assemblyman Datuk Mahmud Zakaria said according to a report by the Integrated Agricultural Develop­ment Area, 193 padi farmers in the area were affected by the soggy soil.

“The affected areas are in Jalan Baru, Sungai Air Hitam, Batu 3, Sungai Tongkang and Sungai Udang with a total land size of 621.4ha or 32% of padi fields in South Seberang Prai.

“The estimated loss is about RM1.27mil from 1,060 tonnes of padi. For now, the short-term solution will be to dig a temporary irrigation ditch for the water to flow out,” he said.

Consumers Association of Penang research officer N.V. Subbarow hoped that the farmers would be compensated for their loss.

“The Agriculture Ministry can also provide incentives or prioritise aid for these farmers while they regrow their padi crop.”

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Indonesia: Environment ministry to establish peat land restoration agency

Antara 12 Jan 16;

Palembang (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry will establish a Peatland Restoration Agency for land conservation and fire prevention.

Secretary General of the Ministry Bambang Handroyono said here on Tuesday that a similar agency will also be established at the provincial level.

"At the national level, the restoration agency will be coordinated by the ministry of environment and forestry, while at the local level it will be under the coordination of the governor," he said.

According to him, the agency is being set up following a presidential regulation in this regard.

Establishment of such an agency to deal with peat land conservation issue is important, considering how difficult could it be to extinguish any potential fire in the peat land.

The agency is expected to optimize the peat land management and maintain the areas, Bambang said.

Indonesias peat land area is estimated at 20.6 million hectares, or about 10.8 percent of Indonesias total land area. Of this, approximately 7.2 million hectare, or 35 percent, is located in Sumatra island.

Peat land serves to preserve water resources, mitigate flooding, prevent sea water intrusion, support biodiversity, and control the climate through carbon absorption and storage.

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Indonesia: Floods submerge houses in Riau, drought continues in East Nusa Tenggara

Rizal Harahap and Djemi Amnifu, The Jakarta Post 12 Jan 16;

Floods have engulfed thousands of houses and hectares of farming land in Riau while drought continues to hit many areas in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT).

The overflow from the bursting Batang Kuantan River in Kuantan Singingi regency in Riau has claimed the life of a toddler and swamped 4,552 homes and 2,901 hectares of paddy fields.

Based on the latest data gathered by the local social service office, the floods have engulfed houses in 80 villages and 10 districts, with the worst-hit areas reported to be Pangean and Kuantan Hilir Seberang districts, where 1,225 and 1,161 homes were inundated respectively.

In Benai district, 602 homes are recorded to have been swamped, in Inuman district 594, Kuantan Hilir 368, Kuantan Tengah 246, Kuantan Mudik 39 and Gunung Toar 111. The number of flood victims in Cerenti district is still being documented, while four homes are reported to have been engulfed by flood waters in Sentajo Jaya district.

Kuantan Singingi Social Services Office head Muharlius said that the Kuantan River had burst its banks due to high rainfall in upstream areas along the Riau-West Sumatra border over the past week.

The water levels in various regions varied between 50 centimeters and 100 cm. “All villages that the Kuantan River passes through are flooded. Many of the public facilities have been engulfed by flood waters and people’s daily activities have been disrupted for the past four days,” said Muharlius on Monday.

Apart from homes, the floods also swamped 2,901 hectares of newly-grown rice paddies. “They are all at risk of crop failure. The relevant agencies are still waiting for the floods to subside so they can confirm the condition of the crops. They will immediately coordinate with the Riau provincial administration to ask for seedling assistance,” he said.

Apart from material loss, the flood claimed the life of a toddler named M. Nisam, 4, in Muaro Sentajo village, added Murharlius.

Nisam, son of Bambang and Rita, fell into a pool of water and was swept away by a swift current at around 12 noon as he was playing with two of his friends in a flooded rice field. Meanwhile, dozens of tons of relief aid, including medicine and rubber dinghies have been distributed to affected areas. The local administration also erected four evacuation posts and deployed disaster-response personnel to evacuate residents.

Riau Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) head Edwar Sanger has urged residents living in areas near the Kuantan River in Indragiri Hulu regency to raise their awareness.

“I received information that the flooded locations in the Kuantan River upstream area have subsided. Currently, a large volume of water is flowing downstream and the chance of this causing the Indragiri River to overflow in Indragiri Hulu is high,” said Edwar.

He added the Indragiri Hulu regency administration must take the necessary precautions, keeping in mind the huge extent of flooding in Kuantan Singingi. People must be alert to flash floods and the local administration must prepare alternative evacuation shelters as well as food aid before the flood waters arrive,” he said.

In stark contrast, rain has not fallen in a number of regions across NTT despite the arrival of the rainy season. The low rainfall has caused a number of areas to be at risk of harvest failure and subsequent food crisis.

“It has not yet rained in nearly all areas across NTT and it is already January. This year, NTT is at risk of harvest failure and food shortage,” NTT Vice Governor Benny A. Litelnoni told journalists in Kupang on Monday.

In anticipation of the harvest failure, Benny said that the provincial administration had coordinated with regency and city administrations to make an inventory of at risk areas.

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Indonesia: Bird watchers attracted to Lake Tambing

Antara 12 Jan 16;

Palu, Central Sulawesi (ANTARA News) - Foreign ecotourists flock to Lake Tambing in Lore Lindu National Park (LLNP), Central Sulawesi, every year to enjoy the beauty of the lake and to spot the numerous birds in the area.

"This is the most beautiful place I have ever visited," Nicolass, a Danish tourist, remarked while visiting Lake Tambing in Poso District over the weekend.

Accompanied by two local tour guides, he explored the forest around Lake Tambing to spot the different kinds of birds and listen to their songs.

"This is the main attraction for tourists, especially foreign tourists, because its not available in other countries," he said.

LLNP spokesman Fery noted here on Sunday that many foreign tourists have been coming to the park and the lake, in particular, to see the birds of the forest.

"Most foreign tourists come especially to study and watch the birds at the ecotourism site," Fery said on the sidelines of a dialog on the role of the press in the protection of LLNP, held by Antara at Lake Tambing on Sunday.

The LLNP was declared a biosphere preserve by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1977.

Fery said there are some 263 bird species living in the park, and 30 per cent of them are endemic to the area.

The latter includes the Noree Sulawesi (Tanygnatus sumatrana), the cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea), rangkong birds (Buceros rhinoceros and Aceros cassidix), and the pecuk ular (Anhinga rufa).

Fery said the number of foreign tourists visiting the tourist site, located 1,700 meters above sea level in Poso District, has continued to rise each year.

He noted that from January to December 2015, the number of foreign tourists was recorded at 244, up from only 100 in the same period the year before.

"Most of the foreign visitors were researchers and bird watchers," he explained.

Lake Tambing is located some 90 kilometers from Palu, the capital of Central Sulawesi, and can be reached in two hours by car or motorcycle.(*)

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45 whales die after southern India stranding

AFP Yahoo News 12 Jan 16;

Forty-five whales have died after stranding themselves on a southern Indian beach, a government official said Tuesday, with local fishermen struggling to save others.

The pod of whales started beaching themselves on Monday afternoon along a 15-kilometre (9-mile) stretch of coast near Tiruchendur on India's southernmost tip.

"At least 45 short-nosed pilot whales beached were later confirmed dead on the coast of Tiruchendur," district collector M. Ravikumar said, adding that the pod may have been hit by a passing ship.

About 50 whales altogether had become stranded, local forestry officer S.A. Raju said, while the Press Trust of India and other local media put the total number at more than 100.

"It's very strange and we are examining the whales. We found some of the whales are still alive and struggling for their lives," Raju said.

Raju added he and his team were seeking help from the district administration to try to rescue those still breathing.

Fishermen and others were attempting to push those whales back into the water along the coast, located some 700 kilometres from the city of Chennai, local media reported.

Fishermen raised the alarm after the whales, about 15 feet (4.5 metres) long, starting coming ashore.

"On Monday evening there were more than a dozen whales beached at many places on the shore," said S. Thiraviyam, a resident of the town of Manapad.

The southern tip of India is close to major shipping trade routes.

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