A sperm whale has been found dead in Indonesia with 115 plastic cups and 25 plastic bags in its stomach, raising concern among environmentalists and throwing the spotlight on the country’s rubbish problem.
The items were part of nearly six kilograms (13 pounds) of plastic waste discovered in the 9.5-metre (31-foot) carcass when it washed ashore in Wakatobi National Park, in Southeast Sulawesi province, on Monday.
Other debris included flip flops and ripped tarpaulins, the head of Wakatobi tourism, La Ode Saleh Hanan, told AFP on Wednesday.
Conservation group WWF Indonesia said on social media its staff found four plastic bottles and 3.26 kilograms of raffia rope, as well as the plastic bags and cups.
The exact cause of the whale’s death is not yet known but there are signs that “plastic waste might have triggered it”, WWF Indonesia marine species conservation coordinator Dwi Suprapti told AFP.
Wakatobi district, a picturesque collection of four main islands surrounded by a marine reserve, has urged Indonesia’s central government to help tackle the problem of marine debris.
Indonesia is the world’s second biggest contributor to marine debris after China, and a colossal 1.29 million metric tons is estimated to be produced annually.
The problem has grown so bad that Indonesian officials declared a “garbage emergency” last year after a six-kilometre stretch of coast along the island of Bali was swamped with rubbish.
The archipelago of more than 17,000 islands has pledged to reduce marine plastic waste by 70 percent by 2025.
It plans to boost recycling services, curb the use of plastic bags, launch cleanup campaigns and raise public awareness.
But poor waste-processing infrastructure and low awareness among its 260 million inhabitants prove major obstacles.
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Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg was chosen as Time magazine's Person of the Year for 2019, the magazine announced Wednesday.
The 16-year-old has found herself in the role of spokesperson for a generation haunted by climate emergency since her solo strike against global warming outside Sweden's parliament last year.
The magazine cover has a picture of Thunberg with the subtitle "The Power of Youth."
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Blast damages hospital near biggest US base in Afghanistan
At least one person was killed and dozens wounded when a bomb exploded close to the largest US military base in Afghanistan Wednesday, damaging homes and a hospital under construction near Bagram Airfield, officials said.
The attack -- which has not yet been claimed -- comes as Washington resumed talks with the Taliban on Saturday, three months after President Donald Trump abruptly halted diplomatic efforts that could end America's longest war.
"The explosion happened in front of the gate of the Korean hospital which is almost adjacent to Bagram airfield," Parwan governor spokeswoman Wahida Shahkar said, referring to the US airbase located north of Kabul, in Parwan province.