News Headlines - 18 April 2021

Hong Kong police arrest three after victim loses HK$69 million in huge phone scam | South China Morning Post

A 65-year-old retiree suffered the biggest phone scam loss in Hong Kong history when swindlers impersonating mainland Chinese officials duped her out of nearly HK$69 million (US$8.9 million), police said on Friday as they revealed the arrest of three suspects.
Her losses from last October’s fraud were about HK$10 million more than what was conned out of a local businessman five years ago, the previous largest case for this type of scam.

Murderer kidnapped Chinese man to sell his body for cremation so another family could have a traditional burial | South China Morning Post

A court in China has upheld a suspended death sentence for a man who abducted a person with Down’s syndrome so his body could be sold and substituted for another body due to be cremated to circumvent a government ban on burials.
The convicted man, identified by his surname Huang, was hired by a wealthy family in 2017 in Lufeng, Guangdong province who did not want to cremate a deceased relative, to find a substitute body for the cremation, according to the case verdict from Guangdong Higher People’s Court.
The deceased man whose family wanted a traditional burial, also surnamed Huang, died from cancer in February, 2017, and told his family before he died that he wished to be buried, according to the verdict.

New Panama disease in Peru, it is difficult to prevent the spread of infection

The Peruvian government has announced that Panama disease (TR4), the enemy of bananas, has been confirmed in the banana garden in Sullana, which is located in the northernmost part of the country. In South America, TR4 invasion was confirmed in Colombia two years ago, and this time it spread to Peru. Ecuador, the world's largest banana exporter, is located between the two countries, and it has a big impact on the South American banana world.

War-torn Syria to hold presidential elections on May 26 | Al Jazeera

Syria is set to hold a presidential election on May 26, the country’s second in the shadow of civil war, seen as likely to keep President Bashar al-Assad in power... Syrians abroad will be “able to vote at embassies” on May 20, Hammouda Sabbagh said in a statement, adding that prospective candidates could hand in their applications from Monday.
Millions of people displaced by Syria’s long-running war were not eligible to cast ballots.

The long reach of Mount Etna's gas emissions - BBC News

Recent eruptions at Europe's most active volcano, Mt Etna, have led to a spike is sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions across the Mediterranean.
Observations from the EU's Sentinel-5P satellite have recorded plumes of the gas sweeping away from the volcano for thousands of kilometres.
One such plume even arced over the Suez canal during its blockage last month.
This had analysts at the Airbus space company incorrectly tying the SO2 to shipping - as reported by the BBC.
The suggestion was that vessels waiting to make a passage through the waterway were raising the concentration of the gas in the atmosphere locally.
This assessment has now been accepted as wrong and withdrawn.