Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 20th 2015 Contents The Maldives' top court has overturned a
sentence of death by stoning issued to a
woman found guilty of adultery, local media
The woman, who reportedly gave birth
out of wedlock, was convicted by a magis-
trate's court on Sunday.
However, the Supreme Court quashed the
sentence late on Sunday, saying the ruling
had violated legal procedures.
The island nation has previously issued
flogging sentences to those convicted of ex-
Sunday's initial sentence had sparked out-
rage on social media and was criticised by
The sentence to death by stoning was un-
precedented in the country, which is known
as a luxury tourist destination.
In 2013, the case of a 15-year-old girl sen-
tenced to 100 lashes after being found guilty
of premarital sex prompted global concern.
The High Court later overturned the verdict,
saying she had been wrongly convicted.
Extramarital sex is illegal in the Maldives,
although the ban does not apply to tourists.
has had to cash in on its insurance
policy earlier than expected.
Deep in the side of a mountain
in the Arctic archipelago is the
Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
Known as the "Doomsday
Vault," this seed bank---operated
by the Norwegian government and
containing a seed of just about
every known crop in the world---
is meant to be humanity s backup
in the event of a catastrophe that
But it was not a natural disaster
that has caused scientists to have
to dip in and make the first sig-
nificant withdrawal from the vault.
Rather, it was the most preventable
of man-made disasters---war.
The bloody conflict in Syria has
left scientists at an important gene
bank in Aleppo---where new strains
of drought- and heat-resistant
wheat have been developed over
time---unable to continue their
work in recent years.
Now, with no sign of conditions
in Syria improving, scientists have
begun recovering their critical
inventory of seeds, sourced from
around the Fertile Crescent and
beyond, that have been in safe-
keeping beneath the Arctic ice.
The seeds are being planted at
new facilities in Lebanon and
Morocco, allowing scientists to
resume the important research
they ve been doing for decades,
away from the barrel bombs of
The gene bank in Aleppo, run
by the International Center for
Agricultural Research in the Dry
Areas, is one of the most important
in the world and includes more
than 135,000 varieties of wheat,
fava bean, lentil and chickpea
crops, as well as the world s most
valuable barley collection.
A 10-minute drive away and
just across the mountain range
from Syria, a new vault is being
built by ICARDA.
To begin replenishing the stock,
there are greenhouses nearby
where the seeds will be planted,
grown and reproduced. Once
restocked, the seeds will once again
become available for researchers
and other seed vaults.
A parallel project is being set up
in Morocco to ensure that human-
ity always has access to this irre-
placeable cache of genetic material.
• Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
'Doomsday Vault' opens
Seed bank meant for
global calamity unlocked
In this photo taken Sunday, a view of the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway. Gene banks and
organisations around the world have deposited about 860,000 samples of seeds at the Global Seed Vault in
Norway's Svalbard archipelago to back up their own collections in case of man-made or natural calamities.
Heavy rain and floods are affecting
dozens of villages, after Typhoon
Koppu swept through the northern
The slow-moving weather system
has killed at least two people and forced
tens of thousands from their homes.
Troops have been deployed to help
residents trapped on rooftops, but are
struggling to access more remote areas.
Koppu has now been downgraded
to a severe tropical storm by the Japan-
ese Meteorological Agency, which is
responsible for naming and tracking
it. However, the Philippines own
weather agency, which calls the weather
system Lando, is still characterising it
as a typhoon.
Despite weakening, Koppu is expect-
ed to keep dumping rain on the country
for a considerable time to come. Some
forecasts suggest it may not be until
tomorrow that it moves past the Philip-
pines and on to Taiwan.
Unlike previous tropical cyclones,
the threat from typhoon Koppu is not
so much from the wind but from the
massive amount of rain.
More than a metre of rainfall is fore-
cast in just a few days in Luzon
province. That is double what London
gets in an entire year.
In the south of Luzon, it has brought
severe flooding with whole villages
under water. But perhaps more dan-
gerous are massive landslides. The fear
is that with the ground heavy and sat-
urated with water, whole hillsides could
brings severe floods
Maldives annuls death by stoning for woman
RIO DE JANEIRO---A suspected gas leak has set
off a massive explosion in Rio de Janeiro, reducing
several small homes and businesses to rubble in
the northern part of the city.
Despite the extensive damage, nobody has been
Authorities say at least seven people were injured
and pulled from the buildings, though none are in
serious condition. One of the injured is a child.
Firefighters are still searching through the rubble
for possible victims from the blast, which was so
strong it was reportedly heard by people living
nearly four miles away.
Early suspicions focus on possible gas leaks in
two restaurants or a pharmacy where the blast hit.
Big explosion hits Rio; seven hurt
DUBAI---The crush and stampede
that struck the hajj last month in
Saudi Arabia killed at least 2,110
pilgrims, a new Associated Press
tally showed yesterday, after officials
in the kingdom met to discuss the
Crown Prince Mohammed bin
Naif bin Abdul Aziz oversaw the
meeting late Sunday. It did not
mention any official response to
the rising death toll. The country s
own toll since September 26 has
stood at 769 people killed and 934
The AP figure comes from state
media reports and officials com-
ments from 30 of the over 180
countries that sent citizens to the
five-day annual pilgrimage, which
is required of all able-bodied Mus-
Saudi hajj disaster toll at 2,110
A resident uses an inflated tyre tube to bring a pig to safety amidst raging
floodwaters brought about by Typhoon Koppu at Zaragosa township, north of
Manila, Philippines, yesterday. AP PHOTO
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