Russian Soyuz rocket blasts off ALMATY – A trio of Russian, Japanese and US astronauts blasted off aboard a Soyuz spaceship yesterday for a four-month mission on the International Space Station (ISS) that Moscow hopes will help restore confidence in its space programme. Veteran Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, Nasa astronaut Sunita Williams and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide launched successfully aboard the Soyuz TMA-05M rocket from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 0240 GMT on Saturday.
They are scheduled to berth early tomorrow, joining Nasa Flight Engineer Joseph Acaba and Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin aboard the ISS, a $100 billion (about N$800 billion) research complex orbiting 240 miles above Earth.
Two more deaths on Mont Blanc
ROME – Two more climbers have died on Mont Blanc following the deaths of nine people last week in a massive avalanche, rescue crews in Italy and France said yesterday.
An Italian Alpine rescue team military official said the bodies of a Polish woman and Spanish man were found 4 400 meters up on the Dome du Gouter peak on the Italian-French border Saturday night after spending more than 24 hours in a snow hole.
Rescue services said the man and woman had been climbing with two Spaniards when they were caught in bad weather Friday night. The Spaniards managed to reach the Gouter mountain refuge earlier Saturday and alerted authorities who sent help.
The Italian official said the Spanish survivors were taken to a hospital in nearby Val d’Aosta for tests, but weren’t seriously injured.
Great white status questioned
SYDNEY – Beaches remained closed yesterday along Australia’s west coast after a fatal shark attack that has reignited debate over whether great whites should remain a protected species.
Surfer Benjamin Linden, 24, was bitten in half in a savage attack on Saturday, the fifth such fatality in the region in less than a year.
He was surfing near Wedge Island, north of Perth, with a friend when he was mauled by the huge shark, said to be up to five metres long.
A man jet-skiing near him said it was a gruesome scene, with “half a torso” all that remained of Linden.
Surfers said they had noticed a large shark in the vicinity in the previous few days and nicknamed it ‘Brutu’ due to its large size.