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Toll of the phosphor accident in Ukraine still rising

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Toll of the phosphor accident in Ukraine still rising

Friday, July 20, 2007

Between 143 and 152 people have now been hospitalized in the wake of Monday’s train derailment near Lviv, Ukraine, and subsequent phosporous cloud. According to the Ukrainian Healthcare Ministry’s spokesperson, Igor Gerych, 43 of the injured are children, 13 are firemen and three are medical personnel. None are considered to be in mortal danger, yet some cases remain at medium risk level.

Nearly 400 people are involved with the clean-up operations. Among them are military specialists for chemical warfare. The Ukrainian Army alert state was raised to “high readiness” state on Tuesday, when the scale of the accident became clear. 27 medical brigades, 13 consultants and seven specialists are inspecting the surrounding inhabited areas.

Two of the fifteen phosphor containers that were involved in the accident have been raised and put on new transports; nine of them need more work to treat leaking and damaged areas. All containers are to be transported to a more secure location by Saturday.

The situation on the ground appears to be confusing. Political TV channel, Kanal 5, reports that the village closest to the accident, Ozhidovo, is still requesting volunteers to send medicines and water, as they do not have any. Journalists of three TV channels (Inter, Novyj Kanal, ICTV) needed medical care themselves after being in the village.

TV channel, UT-1 reports this evening that the Ukranian President, Viktor Yushchenko, has called an urgent meeting of the National Security Council.

The accident appears to be likely to become a topic of contention in the long-standing rivalry between the President and the Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. Yesterday, the President publicly criticized the government’s work.

Politicization of the disaster is likely to be the main reason behind the extreme differences among the versions of the Ukrainian media. Some declared the accident “ended” a few hours after it occurred, while others are still making alarming reports.

On July 18, the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) of the European Commission reportedly offered EU assistance to the Ukrainian government. The same sources say that Ukraine has not officially requested the help. Without a formal request, EU assistance cannot begin.

On the same date, NATO Spokesman in Brussels, Mr. James Appathurai, is reported by Podrobnosti to have declared that the Alliance is following the situation, and that NATO has not received any request for help from the Ukraine, either.

Asbestos controversy aboard Scientology ship Freewinds

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Asbestos controversy aboard Scientology ship Freewinds

Friday, May 16, 2008

Controversy has arisen over the reported presence of blue asbestos on the MV Freewinds, a cruise ship owned by the Church of Scientology. According to the Saint Martin newspaper The Daily Herald and the shipping news journal Lloyd’s List, the Freewinds was sealed in April and local public health officials on the Caribbean island of Curaçao where the ship is docked began an investigation into the presence of asbestos dust on the ship. Former Scientologist Lawrence Woodcraft supervised work on the ship in 1987, and attested to the presence of blue asbestos on the Freewinds in an affidavit posted to the Internet in 2001. Woodcraft, a licensed architect by profession, gave a statement to Wikinews and commented on the recent events.

According to The Daily Herald, the Freewinds was in the process of being renovated by the Curaçao Drydock Company. The article states that samples taken from paneling in the ship were sent to the Netherlands, where an analysis revealed that they “contained significant levels of blue asbestos”. An employee of the Curaçao Drydock Company told Radar Online in an April 30 article that the Freewinds has been docked and sealed, and confirmed that an article about asbestos ran in the local paper.

Lloyd’s List reported that work on the interior of the Freewinds was suspended on April 27 after health inspectors found traces of blue asbestos on the ship. According to Lloyd’s List, Frank Esser, Curaçao Drydock Company’s interim director, joined Curaçao’s head of the department of labor affairs Christiene van der Biezen along with the head of the local health department Tico Ras and two inspectors in an April 25 inspection of the ship. “We are sending someone so that they can tell us what happened, where it came from, since when it has been there,” said Panama Maritime Authority’s director of merchant marine Alfonso Castillero in a statement to Lloyd’s List.

The Church of Scientology purchased the ship, then known as the Bohème, in 1987, through an organization called Flag Ship Trust. After being renovated and refitted, it was put into service in June 1988. The ship is used by the Church of Scientology for advanced Scientology training in “Operating Thetan” levels, as well as for spiritual retreats for its members. Curaçao has been the ship’s homeport since it was purchased by the Church of Scientology.

According to his 2001 statement, Lawrence Woodcraft had been an architect in London, England since 1975, and joined Scientology’s elite “Sea Organization” (Sea Org) in 1986. He wrote that he was asked by the Sea Org to work on the Freewinds in 1987, and during his work on the ship “noticed a powdery blue fibrous substance approximately 1 ½” thick between the paint and the steel wall,” which he believed to be asbestos. He also discovered what he thought was blue asbestos in other parts of the ship, and reported his findings to Church of Scientology executives. Woodcraft discussed his experiences in a 2001 interview published online by the Lisa McPherson Trust, a now-defunct organization which was critical of the Church of Scientology.

The Freewinds regularly inspects the air quality on board and always meets or exceeds US standards.

Church of Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw responded to Radar Online about the asbestos reports, in an email published in an article in Radar on May 1. “The Freewinds regularly inspects the air quality on board and always meets or exceeds US standards,” said Pouw. She stated that two inspections performed in April “confirmed that the air quality is safe,” and asserted that the inspections revealed the Freewinds satisfies standards set by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Clean Air Act.

Pouw told Radar that “The Freewinds will be completing its refit on schedule.” The Church of Scientology-affiliated organization Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) had been planning a cruise aboard the Freewinds scheduled for May 8, but according to Radar an individual who called the booking number for the cruise received a message that the cruise had been delayed due to ongoing work on the ship. Citing an article in the Netherlands Antilles newspaper Amigoe, Radar reported on May 6 that a team from the United States and supervised by an independent bureau from the Netherlands traveled to Curaçao in order to remove asbestos from the Freewinds.

…if the Church of Scientology claims to have removed the blue asbestos, I just don’t see how, it’s everywhere. You would first have to remove all the pipes, plumbing, a/c ducts, electrical wiring etc. etc. just a maze of stuff.

“I stand by everything I wrote in my 2001 affidavit,” said Lawrence Woodcraft in an exclusive statement given to Wikinews. Woodcraft went on to state: “I would also comment that if the Church of Scientology claims to have removed the blue asbestos, I just don’t see how, it’s everywhere. You would first have to remove all the pipes, plumbing, a/c ducts, electrical wiring etc. etc. just a maze of stuff. Also panelling as well, basically strip the ship back to a steel hull. Also blue asbestos is sprayed onto the outer walls and then covered in paint. It’s in every nook and cranny.”

Many Scientologist celebrities have spent time aboard the Freewinds, including Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Chick Corea, Lisa Marie Presley, Catherine Bell, Kate Ceberano, and Juliette Lewis. Now magazine reported that Tom Cruise has been urged to seek medical attention regarding potential asbestos exposure, however a representative for Cruise stated he has “absolutely no knowledge” of the recent asbestos controversy. Cruise, Holmes, Travolta and Preston have celebrated birthdays and other events on the Freewinds.

There is not now and never has been a situation of asbestos exposure on the Freewinds.

In a May 15 statement to the United Kingdom daily newspaper Metro, a representative for the Church of Scientology said that “There is not now and never has been a situation of asbestos exposure on the Freewinds.” The Asbestos and Mesothelioma Center notes that agencies have recommended anyone who has spent time on the Freewinds consult with their physician to determine if possible asbestos exposure may have affected their health.

Raw blue asbestos is the most hazardous form of asbestos, and has been banned in the United Kingdom since 1970. Blue asbestos fibers are very narrow and thus easily inhaled, and are a major cause of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer which can develop in the lining of the lungs and chest cavity, the lining of the abdominal cavity, or the pericardium sac surrounding the heart. The cancer is incurable, and can manifest over 40 years after the initial exposure to asbestos.

“This is the most dangerous type of asbestos because the fibres are smaller than the white asbestos and can penetrate the lung more easily,” said toxicologist Dr. Chris Coggins in a statement published in OK! Magazine. Dr. Coggins went on to note that “Once diagnosed with mesothelioma, the victim has six months to a year to live. It gradually reduces lung function until the victim is no longer able to breathe and dies.”

Manitoba’s flood creating hazardous conditions

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Manitoba’s flood creating hazardous conditions

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Red River at Winnipeg is almost clear of ice blocks and ice jamming, however there are still dangers from the Red River flood.

Ice blocks which were as high as two storey buildings were ripping out trees, fences and railway ties. “You’ll see huge pans of ice standing vertical, up to 20 feet (6.1 m) high,” said Steve Topping, an official with the provincial Water Stewardship Department. “Ice was shoved up on the shore and took out trees with a very devastating effect. It has changed people’s view of the river.”

“It is incredible, the force. One piece of ice pushed out of the river about 20 feet. You watch the force push this up right in front of your eyes,” said Dean North, of the Selkirk Golf and Country Club.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police are ticketing sight seers who are driving through road closure signs and approaching excavators, cranes and crews breaking up the ice. Vehicles, people, boats, and kayaks are getting in the way.

An eight year old boy is in critical condition after slipping on a culvert Thursday. He was pulled underwater by the speed of the flowing water and remained under for about five to ten minutes until adults could rescue him. The air ambulance supplied by Alberta’s STARS (Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society) remains in the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

“This is not a spectator sport. It’s not about getting the best pictures for the family albums. I know floods are seen as a bit of an event, but some of the instances I’m hearing about, people should give their head a shake, they really should,” said Steve Ashton Manitoba Emergency Measures Minister, “Those who fall into the river or get into trouble in another way would be not only endangering themselves but the emergency response crews trying to rescue them. I don’t want to see a situation … where we’re trying our darndest to prevent flooding and save lives and somebody [who] decides to go have a white-water experience ends up killing themselves.”

Early Easter Sunday morning floodwater reached the rural municipalities of St. Andrews and St. Clements north of Winnipeg. Residents were sent an evacuation advisory Good Friday, however some residents remained. Rescue efforts commenced Saturday night to find those stranded and unable to leave as their vehicles cannot travel in the swollen overland floodwaters. Some people were rescued from roof tops as entire houses were swept off of their foundations by the large ice blocks hurtling down the river.

Highways in the area remain closed. Neil Gobelle, of Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation said to “definitely continue to watch the Red River Valley and north of the city up in the Selkirk area. Things are changing quite a bit, quite quickly, so we’ll keep an eye on those areas.”

As of Easter Sunday, Winnipeg is expected to be ice free on the Red River. The River rose 4 feet (1.2 m) in the course of 24 hours. Rain is in the forecast and the higher temperatures of 17 °C (62.6 °F) will cause melting of snow and ice.

A weather system caused by La Niña is being watched by the United States National Weather Service and its potential effects between April 16-18 for residents along the Red River Valley. “We want people to be aware there is a very real possibility of the river going higher than what is out there,” said Mark Ewens, data manager at the NWS, “To have spring floods like this back-to-back is just an unfortunate series of events that have come along to plague us this spring. We’re wanting people to understand that this is a potentially serious problem.”

Hewlett-Packard to cut 9,000 jobs in $1 billion restructuring plan

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Hewlett-Packard to cut 9,000 jobs in $1 billion restructuring plan

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hewlett-Packard (HP) expects to lose 9,000 jobs between now and 2013 in a US$1 billion (£686m) restructuring plan.

The 9,000 jobs losses will be in the enterprise services division, but the company expects to add about 6,000 employees to its sales and delivery teams.

HP commented in a statement, “As a result of productivity gains and automation, HP expects to eliminate roughly 9,000 positions over a multi-year period to reinvest for further growth and to increase shareholder value”

HP will invest in fully automated data centers as it makes operational changes in its Internet technology services business. HP said the restructuring will generate savings of $500–700 million (about €407–571 million) in net savings after reinvestment.

Hewlett-Packard has around 300,000 employees and is the world’s largest technology company by sales. HP is an American multinational information technology corporation headquartered in Palo Alto, California.

Sadr City suicide bomber uses fruit truck to kill 66 on market day

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Sadr City suicide bomber uses fruit truck to kill 66 on market day

Sunday, July 2, 2006

A suicide bomber exploded a truck bomb in the crowded Al-Ula market in Sadr City in Baghdad on Saturday, killing 66 people and injuring over a 100.

‘At the beginning of this market, the criminal blew up his dynamite-packed truck after trying to go over the pavement,’ said Iraq’s Deputy Health Minister Sabah al-Hussein.

The explosion happened when a police patrol was passing by and caused heavy casualties in the morning market rush. Some shoppers were sent flying on top of nearby two-storey buildings.

The force of the blast left a large crater and wreckage of blown-out cars and windowless buildings. Rescuers were left to pick through a sickening scene of human remains mixed in with exploded vegetable matter and dead animals.

Sadr City, a Shiite city of two million in which religious leader Moqtada Sadr has found popular support, had many times before been targeted by Sunni terrorists who were blamed by some residents for this attack.

It was the deadliest bombing of civilians since Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki‘s government assumed responsibility for domestic security in May 2006.

Experts said the truck bomb was a lethal concoction of explosives, shells and shrapnel hidden under a consignment of fruit. The driver of the truck blew himself up in the explosion.

UK Wikinews Shorts: July 8, 2013

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UK Wikinews Shorts: July 8, 2013

A compilation of brief news reports for Monday, July 8, 2013.

TECA celebrates 60-year anniversary with Taipei Audio Video Fair

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TECA celebrates 60-year anniversary with Taipei Audio Video Fair
By | Posted in Uncategorized

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The 28th Taipei Audio Video Fair (TAVF), organized by the Taipei Electrical Commercial Association (TECA), featured not only some innovative domestic market exhibition ideas, but also offered a pavilion entitled the “Global Audio and Video History Corridor”, to showcase the audio and video industry’s world-wide history. Wikinews reporter Rico Shen attended the fair, which, this year, highlighted TECA’s 60th anniversary.

At the Taipei Grand Hotel (Yuanshan Hall), some participants (exhibitors) rented soundproof guest rooms, which offered the best quality and performance for audio experiences. With high-definition television becoming a popular topic, some pre-market or marketed wide-screen HDTVs featuring 1080p were exhibited at the Taipei World Trade Center (TWTC Hall).

The TAVF show runs from November 8 to 12, closing at 8:00 p.m. (Taipei Time) each night except November 12, which has a closing time of 6 p.m. To assist visitors from The Grand Hotel, TWTC and TECA hired the Metropolitan Transport Corporation for an inter-hall shuttle service. The peak number of visitors are expected to be on the weekend after permitting minors under 120 cm to enter the showground.

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Somali opposition group al-Shabaab to block WFP food aid

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Somali opposition group al-Shabaab to block WFP food aid
By | Posted in Uncategorized

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Al-Shabaab, the Somali opposition group, has said it will stop food operations by the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) in the country, accusing the agency of being politically motivated and disadvantaging local farmers.

File:WFPlogo130.svg

Al-Shabaab said that the agency was ruining local farming, as the quantity of the food aid didn’t allow farmers to sell their goods at reasonable prices.

A statement from the group read that “[g]iven the problems caused by the food WFP distributed, the movement of Shabab Al-Mujahideen banned the operations of the agency in Somalia generally starting from today. The contractors working with WFP must avoid collaborating […] anyone working with the agency will be seen serving the interest of WFP.”

The WFP, meanwhile, says that armed members of al-Shabaab have blocked off food aid to refugee camps in the city of Afgoye.

Peter Smerdon commented on the move to the BBC, saying: “The WFP is extremely concerned about the health of the displaced families who rely on humanitarian assistance reaching them. The people in Afgoye last received a general food distribution from WFP in November 2009, so we fear that they are going very hungry.”

“We fear they are suffering even more because food assistance cannot reach them, and some of them may be forced to leave Afgoye as conditions in the camp deteriorate,” he added. A statement released by the WFP claims that its motivations in Somalia were “impartial and non political”. On the agency’s official website, the WFP describes Somalia as being “one of the most dangerous places in the world”, and having “the highest humanitarian need for the size of its population”.

The official Somali government does not control much of the country outside of the capital Mogadishu; many areas in southern Somalia are controlled by al-Shabaab.

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Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal delayed further

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Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal delayed further
By | Posted in Uncategorized
Buffalo, N.Y. Hotel Proposal Controversy
Recent Developments
  • “120 year-old documents threaten development on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, November 21, 2006
  • “Proposal for Buffalo, N.Y. hotel reportedly dead: parcels for sale “by owner”” — Wikinews, November 16, 2006
  • “Contract to buy properties on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal extended” — Wikinews, October 2, 2006
  • “Court date “as needed” for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, August 14, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal rescheduled” — Wikinews, July 26, 2006
  • “Elmwood Village Hotel proposal in Buffalo, N.Y. withdrawn” — Wikinews, July 13, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal delayed” — Wikinews, June 2, 2006
Original Story
  • “Hotel development proposal could displace Buffalo, NY business owners” — Wikinews, February 17, 2006

Friday, March 10, 2006

Buffalo, New York —The Common Council of Buffalo voted on Tuesday to send the Elmwood Village Hotel proposal “to committee for further discussion”, after citing the need for more public involvement.

The Elmwood Village Hotel is a development proposal by the Savarino Construction Services Corporation, a project designed by the architect Karl Frizlen of The Frizlen Group. The hotel would be placed on the southeast corner of Elmwood and Forest Avenues in Buffalo.

To make way for the project, at least five buildings located at 1109 to 1121 Elmwood Ave would be demolished. At least two properties on Forest Avenue could also be demolished. The Elmwood properties, according to Eva Hassett, Vice President of Savarion Construction, are “under contract”, but it is unclear if Savarino Construction actually owns the Elmwood properties. Hans Mobius, a former mayorial candidate, is still believed to be the current owner the properties. Mobius also owns 607 Forest Avenue.

The properties 605 and 607 Forest Avenue could also be included in the proposal according to Hassett.

“We would use a Special Development Plan to rezone 1119-1121 Elmwood and 605 Forest to a C-2 zoning category,” stated Hassett. It is possible that Savarino Construction may try to obtain a variance for 605 Forest, which would allow them to enforce eminent domain, should the hotel be allowed to go forward.

The building at 607 Forest was also discussed to be rezoned, but it is unclear what the plans would be for that property. During the February 28 Common Council meeting, Hassett stated that the properties 605 and 607 were “now off the agenda”.

Pano Georgiadis, owner of Pano’s Restaurant at 1081 Elmwood, owns the property at 605 Forest and attended Tuesday’s Common Council meeting.

“Having a hotel is a bright idea. We all love the idea of a hotel, but the way that it is presented, is wishful thinking. This hotel does not fit. It’s like putting two gallons of water in a gallon jug, it does not fit. At the last meeting, the architect admitted that they are planning to put the undergound parking lot and the hotel, right at the property line. If I open my window, I will be able to touch the wall, that goes fifty feet high”, said Georgiadis.

“There is a problem having a seventy-two room hotel and fifty-five parking spaces. That means that all the other cars will spill all over the neighborhood. The footprint is simply too small. If you have a bigger [parking] lot, and a smaller hotel, I will welcome a hotel. I have a parking lot at my own business, and I am chasing people all day long. Remember, the city says it has ‘zero tolerance [for illegal parking]’. Try telling that to the guy from Albany who came to see his kids, that are going to Buffalo State, who would get tickets totaling over a hundred dollars”, added Georgiadis.

The city’s Planning Board is scheduled to meet on March 14, 2006 at 9:00 a.m. about the proposal. Although a discussion will take place, no vote is expected to be taken.

At the moment, none of the properties are zoned for a hotel. Savarino Construction plans on asking for a C2 zoning permit. If that does not work, they plan to implement a new zoning plan called a “special development plan” which would allow for only a hotel on the site. That zone would not be able to be changed.

“This [project] justifies Mobius’s refusal to invest in any maitenance[sic] or improvements”, on the properties said Clarence Carnahan, a local resident. “Where were the Council persons over the years? Where were the city inspectors over the years, to make sure that he maintained and improved his properties? The government was supposed to be protecting, not being preditorial. I see a predatorial issue here when it comes to this hotel. Over the years: Why has the local government been disfunctional when it came to Mobius’s properties? Refusal to invest in improvements, doesn’t that sound like a slumlord? Maybe I am missing a point here, but what kind of messages does this send to other slumlords that havn’t[sic] been jailed or fined? It’s [the hotel] trying to be pushed through.”

Carnahan also presented signs for residents and or business owners who are opposed to the hotel, that could be placed in windows or on stakes in the yard. Some of the signs said, ‘No tell hotel’, ‘Hans off, no hotel’, ‘It takes more than a hotel to make a village’. and ‘Keep Elmwood free, no hotel’. Carnahan plans on making more signs for a protest to be held on Saturday March 18, at 2:00 p.m. (EST) on Elmwood and Forest. Some signs were given to individuals after the meeting.

“First things first, Hans is the problem, and I don’t think it has been addressed. Let’s roll back the clock on this project. What can we do with Hans? There is such thing as eminent domain, which could be of greater interest to the community, to seize the property at its lowest assessed value”, said Nancy Pollina, co-owner of Don Apparel with Patty Morris at 1119 Elmwood. “There are so many ideas that have not been explored and we are about to give this parcel away, to a big developer.”

Mobius has not returned any calls by Wikinews regarding the situation.

A freelance journalist writing for Wikinews has obtained a letter, exclusively, addressed to one of the five business owners from Hans Mobius stating:

There is a proposal to develop my property which you are currently renting. Because of opposition to this development, it does not look like it will happen. I will let you know if there any changes.

Despite the letter, there have been no plans or decisions made to end the proposal.

To date, none of the business owners or residents of 1119-1121 Elmwood have received an eviction notice.

Business owners and residents gave an indication of what they would like to see happen at the corner; a project similar to one done locally last year. There, developers renovated two buildings on Auburn and Elmwood Avenues, merging the buildings into one thus allowing for more shop space. Among some of the shops to move in after the development were Cone Five Pottery, The Ruby Slipper, and Abraham’s Jewelers. Prior to the renovation work, the left building in the picture was boarded up for several years. Many of the concerned locals would like to see a similar development on Forest and Elmwood.

Rocco Termini, a developer in Buffalo, proposed a similar design at the February 28 community meeting

In an interview after the February 28 meeting, Termini stated, “I will be willing to take a look at this myself, or I would be more than happy to be partners with Sam, Sam Savarino”, who is President and Chief Executive Officer of Savarino Construction Services Corp.

So far Savarino Construction has no plans to team up with Termini.

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World’s oldest living woman dies at age 115

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World’s oldest living woman dies at age 115
By | Posted in Uncategorized

Friday, January 19, 2007

The world’s oldest known woman, Montrealer Julie Winnefred Bertrand, died on Thursday, passing away peacefully in her sleep.

She earned the distinction as the oldest living woman when 116-year-old Elizabeth Bolden of Tennessee, U.S.A. died on December 11, 2006.

Bertrand was born on September 16, 1891 in Coaticook, a town in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, and lived there for the majority of her life. She was the oldest of six children, and never married. She moved to Montreal after the death of her parents, and later moved into a nursing home.

She had never left her sixth-floor room in the nursing home for two years, but unexpectedly, she asked to tour the building the day before she died.

Bertrand will be buried in Coaticook.

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