Otters spotted taking a dip in Sentosa Cove condominium swimming pool

Tee Zhuo Straits Times 2 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE - The pair were captured on video taking a brief dip in the swimming pool of a condominium in Sentosa Cove.

But the duo were not your typical denizens or tourists of the resort island.

In a video taken by a resident at The Berth by the Cove, two otters were spotted swimming a lap in the condominium's pool on Monday morning (Oct 1).

The duo are then seen climbing out of the pool, before making their way to and frolicking in a pond feature nearby.

Resident Shona Trench, who took the video, told The Straits Times that she had been in the pool with a friend when they spotted the aquatic mammals hopping into the pool.

"I jumped out immediately and grabbed my phone to film them... They eventually clambered out and exited along the path to the front of the condominium. Most people I think are happy to spot them," said the 57-year-old housewife.

The British citizen, who has lived in Singapore for eight years, added that this is the first time she has seen otters at her residence although she has spotted them at places like the Kallang River and Changi before.

Mr Brian Ladrillo, a concierge officer at the condominium, said that this was not the first time otters had been spotted at the residence.

"The security guards and myself spot them quite frequently, often in the middle of the night at about 1am to 4am," he said.

Mr Kalai Vanan, deputy chief executive of the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society, said that the otters could be crossing the area and potentially looking for food in the water bodies.

A few years ago, the condominium had faced the problem of otters eating the koi fish in its water features, Mr Ladrillo noted. The condominium eventually decided to remove the koi.

ST reported in July 2015 that otters were suspected of having feasted on ornamental koi at a Sentosa resort and Sentosa Cove home in April that year.

The fish reportedly cost more than $80,000.

Some netizens commenting on Ms Trench's Tuesday video raised concerns about the chlorine content in the pool water and any possible implications for the health of the otters.

Veteran otter watcher Jeffery Teo said that while he was not an expert on the possible health impact, otters are "pretty hardy".

"While otters are coastal creatures, they still have to move inland to consume fresh water, which may explain why we are seeing more otters here. They were probably curious about the water body," he said.

Read more!

Indonesia: Riau fire spreads haze to nearby areas

Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 2 Oct 18;

Some 270 hectares of land in Indragiri Hilir regency, Riau province, were burned on Sunday, spreading haze to its surrounding areas, according to Indragiri Hilir Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Christian Rony Putra.

The area comprised peatlands and mineral soil that had mostly been used by residents as oil palm and rubber plantations. Some parts of the forest’s scrubland had been burnt as well.

According to Rony, 200 joint personnel from the Indonesian Military (TNI), the National Police, the Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) as well as the Manggala Agni Fire Brigade and local communities were deployed to put out the fire.

However, the process was hindered by difficulties in reaching water sources as well as strong winds.

To overcome this issue, Rony said, the team dug a small canal to find a water source.

“We thank the community for helping us put out the fire and giving us helpful information on which dangerous areas we have to avoid,” Rony said on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the resulting haze has affected Pelalawan regency, which is located next to Indragiri Hilir, and reduced visibility in the area to 300 meters in the morning. (dpk)

Read more!

Scale of Indonesian quake disaster emerges as rescuers fan out

Fathin Ungku and Kanupriya Kapoor, Reuters Yahoo News 2 Oct 18;

PALU, Indonesia (Reuters) - The extent of the devastation caused by an earthquake and tsunami on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi should become clearer on Tuesday, as rescuers push into remote areas that have been out of contact for more than three days.

Officials fear the death toll will rise into the thousands. Indonesia has said it would accept offers of international aid, having shunned outside help earlier this year when an earthquake struck the island of Lombok.

By Monday, the number of confirmed deaths stood at 844, most of them in Palu, the main city in the disaster zone.

With communications down and access by land disrupted, rescuers were struggling to reach communities closer to the epicenter of the 7.5 magnitude earthquake that struck on Friday, triggering tsunami waves as high as six meters (20 feet).

A particular horror in several areas was liquefaction, which happens when soil shaken by an earthquake behaves like a liquid.

About 1,700 houses in one Palu neighborhood were swallowed up, with hundreds of people believed buried, the national disaster agency said.

There was also mounting concern over Donggala, a region of 300,000 people north of Palu and close to the epicenter, and two other districts - with a combined population of about 1.4 million.

Initial reports from Red Cross rescuers who had reached the outskirts of Donggala district were chilling.

"The situation in the affected areas is nightmarish," Jan Gelfand, head of an the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) office in Jakarta said in a statement.

"The city of Palu has been devastated and first reports out of Donggala indicate that it has also been hit extremely hard by the double disaster," Gelfand said.

So far, nearly 60,000 people have been displaced and are in need of emergency help, while thousands have been streaming out of the stricken areas.

Chief security minister Wiranto said on Monday the government was trying to meet survivors' immediate needs and would accept offers of international help.

"Right now, we need emergency aid," Wiranto said, referring to the foreign aid that would be airlifted to Palu, 1,500 km (930 miles) northeast of Jakarta.

Commercial airlines have struggled to restore operations at Palu's quake-damaged airport, but military aircraft took survivors out on Monday.

About 3,000 people thronged the airport hoping to get on any flight and officers struggled to keep order.

Wiranto said a navy vessel capable of taking 1,000 people at a time would also be deployed to help with the evacuation.

He said the power utility was also working to restore electricity: "Without energy, everything is crippled."

Anger and desperation among traumatized residents of Palu appeared to be simmering, with some outbreaks of looting.

"Stop hiding Mr Mayor," was daubed on a wall in one part of Palu. Mayor Hidayat was unavailable for comment.

Numerous aftershocks have strained survivors already jangled nerves.

"I feel like the ground is still shifting. I can't sleep," said resident Siti Sarifah, 26.

For a graphic on Sulawesi map, see -

(Writing by Robert Birsel,; Editing by Ed Davies and Simon Cameron-Moore)

Read more!