x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Swimmer's Atlantic crossing attempt foiled in France

Plus a fashion show featuring dead possums, Chilean miners to launch merchandise line, and more of the week's oddest stories in News You Can Lose.

Coastguards in France have rescued a holidaymaker who was attempting to swim across the Atlantic to New York.

The unidentified London man was described by friends as "naive" after he set off from the beach at Biarritz.

After lifeguards noticed a swimmer beyond the 300 metre safe limit, they contacted police, who sent a helicopter to intercept the man.

According to the gendarmes, they then lowered a diver who explained to the man that "swimming to America was not a good idea".

Despite insisting he was a strong swimmer, the man eventually agreed to turn back.

 

Miners' memorabilia

The Chilean miners who spent 69 days trapped under -ground have launched a range of souvenirs to commemorate their ordeal.

Using the trade name "The 33 of the miracle", the group will sell T-shirts, coffee mugs and commemorative medals.

The miners achieved world fame after their rescue in 2010 from the San José Mine but many now have financial problems.

The miners plan to sell the souvenirs at airports and tourist attractions.

A film that tells their story is also due to begin shooting in November.

 

Ships 'put crew first'

The cry of "women and children first" is a myth, say researchers who have studied 18 maritime disasters.

Instead, men got into the lifeboat first, according to a study undertaken at the Swedish National Academy of Sciences.

The study concluding that events like the sinking of the RMS Titanic, in which seven out of 10 women and children survived compared to 20 per cent of men, are the exception.

In most disasters, the captain and crew saved themselves first, with the highest death toll among women and children.

The researchers say: "What happened on the Titanic seems to have spurred misconceptions about human behaviour in disasters."

 

Bear-faced anger

After hundreds of teddy bears were dropped from the air, the president of Belarus has sacked the head of his air force.

The bears, carrying labels calling for freedom, were thrown out of a light aircraft that entered Belarus from Sweden.

The incident, in July, was only confirmed last week, with President Alexander Lukashenko expressing fury that the plane had not been intercepted.

President Lukashenko sacked the head of border security and the air defence commander, demanding: "Why didn't the commanders intercept that flight?"

 

Pupils play possum

Animal rights organisations have attacked a New Zealand school for staging a fashion show with dead possums.

Children dressed the possums in costumes and then arranged them in poses that included riding a tricycle.

A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals said: "We encourage empathy to all animals, even when they're dead."