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Number of bites, deaths has dropped in US, world

  • 64 unprovoked shark attacks were reported around the globe, which was down from the average of 82.
  • Sharks killed two people in 2019, which is below the average of four.
  • As usual, the U.S. led the world in shark attacks, with 41.

Shark attacks were down again both in the U.S. and worldwide in 2019, according to a report released Tuesday.

Last year, 64 unprovoked shark attacks were reported around the globe, down from the average of 82, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File.

As for deaths, sharks killed two people in 2019, which is below the average of four. 

Last year marked the second straight year shark attacks were well below average: There were only 62 attacks worldwide in 2018.

“We’ve had back-to-back years with unusual decreases in shark attacks, and we know that people aren’t spending less time in the water,” said Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Museum of Natural History’s shark research program, in a statement. “This suggests sharks aren’t frequenting the same places they have in the past. But it’s too early to say this is the new normal.”

Researchers at the International Shark Attack File track “unprovoked” attacks, which are defined as incidents in which an attack on a live human occurs in the shark’s natural habitat with no human provocation.

Shark attacks:How to avoid them and whether shark repellents really work

Where do shark attacks happen?

One of the two fatal unprovoked shark attacks was near Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, and the other was in the Bahamas.

In the U.S., on average, one person dies each year from a shark attack.

Humans kill about 100 million sharks and rays each year. Most are killed by commercial fishermen for their fins and flesh.

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Winter weather blamed for seven deaths heads for the Northeast

The ugly winter weather already blamed for at least seven deaths as it has marched across the country was expected to make one last stand in the Northeast on Monday, bringing the first snow accumulations of the season to major cities like Philadelphia and Boston.

The National Weather Service forecast heavy snow for the Northeast and freezing rain over the region through Tuesday, especially in the northernmost areas of New England.

Boston and other coastal areas of Massachusetts were expected to get as much as 6 inches of snow, while areas farther inland could get up to 11 inches, with ice accumulations up to a tenth of an inch. The Philadelphia area could get as much as 5 inches, with up to a foot in areas of the southern Poconos and extreme northwest New Jersey.

New York City is expected to miss the worst of the storm, with about 1 to 3 inches of snow forecast through Monday night, mainly to the west of the city. But areas farther north could receive several inches, forecasters said.

While the stubborn system isn’t as big as the typical midwinter storm, the snow and ice will likely be enough to put a big crimp on travel plans as families finish returning home from their Thanksgiving holidays, just as it has done in the past week as it crept west to east across the United States.

With the worst yet to come on Monday and Tuesday, Boston Logan International Airport reported that 124 arrivals and departures were canceled on Sunday, along with 119 at Newark Liberty in New Jersey, 69 at Philadelphia International and 31 at LaGuardia in New York.

At Buffalo-Niagara International Airport in New York, ice caused a Delta-owned Endeavor Air flight from LaGuardia to skid off the taxiway on arrival on Sunday morning, airport officials said.

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No injuries were reported among the 72 passengers and crew, said Bill Major, the airport’s fire chief. Twenty-five other arrivals and departures were canceled on Sunday as rain iced up the runways during a fast drop in temperature, Major said.

“The weather and icing is an issue for the air field,” Major said. “It’s one of the bigger challenges they have, because it’s hard to keep up with.”

Snow and ice both helped and hampered firefighters as they battled a fire at the Mid-Station Lodge at Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington, New York, near Burlington, Vermont, authorities said Saturday night.

No cause had immediately been determined for the fire, in which no one was injured, NBC affiliate WPTZ of Burlington reported.

Assistant Chief Cliff Holzer of the Wilmington Fire Department, told WPTZ that the location of the fire was difficult to reach. But he said crews were able to take advantage of equipment at the site, using the giant guns that help to create artificial snow for skiers to attack the fire.

Scott Christiansen, vice president of the Olympic Regional Development Authority, the state agency that manages the lodge, said the building was destroyed.

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The nasty holiday-week weather slammed the Midwest on Saturday and Sunday, burying Duluth, Minnesota, under 20 inches of snow, and has been blamed for at least seven confirmed deaths across the country.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol said three people were killed in two separate water rescue incidents in heavily flooded Bollinger County, south of St. Louis, on Saturday.

Two boys, ages 5 and 8, drowned near Patton when the vehicle they were riding in was swept off a flooded road, the patrol said, and a Louisiana man was killed when his vehicle was swept into the Whitewater River.

Motorists navigate an intersection in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in the early hours of a snowstorm that hit the region Sunday.Gillian Jones / AP

In Arizona, two children, both about 5 years old, were found dead on Saturday after they were reported missing when a vehicle was swept up a creek in Tonto Basin, about 50 miles northeast of Phoenix, the sheriff’s office said. Crews were still searching Sunday for a 6-year-old girl.

A 6-year-old boy died after he fell and struck his head when snow-removal equipment being driven by his father lurched in unincorporated Provo Canyon on Friday morning, the Utah County Sheriff’s Office said. The boy’s 9-year-old brother was unhurt in the incident, in which authorities said their father wasn’t at fault.

And in South Dakota, a man was killed early Friday when the pickup truck he was riding in lost control on an ice-covered road near Cavour, in Beadle County, the state highway patrol said. Two other people in the truck weren’t seriously injured.

Near Chamberlain, South Dakota, in Brule County, investigators were also trying to determine to what extent the rough weather played a role in the crash of a single-engine turboprop plane shortly after takeoff on Saturday.

Nine people, including two children, were killed, the Brule County state’s attorney’s office said. The area was under a winter storm warning, with a few inches of snow having accumulated, the National Weather Service said.

While no official cause for the crash had been determined, “definitely we’ll be looking into the weather conditions,” said Peter Knudson, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board.

An initial report isn’t expected for about two weeks, Knudson said.

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Truck Driver Pleads Guilty to 2 Charges in Essex Deaths

LONDON — The driver of the tractor-trailer in which the bodies of 39 Vietnamese people were found dead in southeastern England last month pleaded guilty on Monday in a London court to charges related to the case.

The driver, Maurice Robinson — a 25-year-old from Northern Ireland who is one of three people to have been charged in the case — pleaded guilty to conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and acquiring criminal property, the Essex Police said in a statement.

He also faces one count of manslaughter for each of the 39 victims, and one count each of transferring criminal property and conspiracy to traffic people.

The case sent shock waves internationally when the bodies were discovered on Oct. 23 in a refrigerated truck in an industrial park in Grays, an Essex town 25 miles east of London. This month, the police identified all of the 39 dead as Vietnamese citizens, the youngest of whom was 15.

Mr. Robinson’s case will resume in court on Dec. 13.

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