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Nepal mulling ban on foreigners climbing alone on Everest

Nepal is considering banning foreign climbers from scaling Mount Everest alone in a bid to reduce accidents on the world's highest peak, an industry official said Thursday. Solo climbers would be forced to take a local guide up the mountain amid concerns of safety, overcrowding and piles of rubbish on the "roof of the world," the president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association said.

Canada, Russia, continue to talk as part of Arctic Council meeting in Yellowknife

YELLOWKNIFE - Canada may be upset at Russia over Ukraine, but conversations with the bear continue over the Arctic. Government officials confirm that a Russian delegation is attending a meeting in Yellowknife this week held by the Arctic Council, an eight-member group of countries that ring the North. All members are attending, even though the council includes some of Russia's harshest critics, such as Canada and the United States.

Arctic shipping remains a distant dream for now, transport minister says

WASHINGTON - The centuries-old dream of shipping through the Northwest Passage will remain mostly illusory for the foreseeable future, Canada's transport minister indicated Tuesday in a blunt assessment of the challenges ahead. During an appearance in Washington, Lisa Raitt played down expectations that the Arctic is on the cusp of becoming an international shipping hub because of climate change.

Strong quake strikes off Chile

A 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck off Chile's northwestern coast on Sunday, the latest of at least seven quakes to hit the region in recent days. About 25,000 homes south of the city of Iquique, on Chile's Pacific coast, suffered a 30-minute blackout, the national emergency office said, but there was no significant damage and no tsunami. The undersea quake hit at 1820 GMT and had a depth of 35 kilometers (20 miles). Its epicenter was about 87 kilometers from Iquique, seismologists at the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

Braving perilous Drake Passage to Brazil's Antarctic base

Furious ten-meter waves and icy, tempestuous gales await those intrepid enough to navigate Drake Passage, the crossing from the tip of South America to Antarctica seen by seafarers as one of the world's most dangerous voyages. After an interminable 43-hours trip negotiating waters that leave even experienced sailors queasy, the crew and a gaggle of reporters aboard the Brazilian icebreaker and oceanographic research vessel Ary Rongel finally spot land.

MH370 search covers one of world's harshest places

The search for flight MH370 is taking place over one of the most harsh and isolated points on the planet, in a patch of southern Indian Ocean from where Antarctica beckons. Australian-led efforts to find the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, which vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board, are concentrated on a stretch of water 2,500 kilometres (1,500 miles) southwest of Perth. It is little traversed by maritime traffic, and when alerts went out to merchant shipping in the area on Tuesday, the nearest vessel was two day's journey away.

World Bank approves $73 mn for DR Congo hydro project

The World Bank approved Thursday $73.1 million in financing to the Democratic Republic of Congo to support development of the massive Inga 3 hydropower project in the energy-hungry country. In mid-February the IMF executive board delayed an official review of the proposed technical assistance package for the project that faces opposition from Congolese social and environmental groups.

World Bank approves funds to study Congo's Inga dam

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The World Bank's board on Thursday approved a $73 million grant to help the Democratic Republic of Congo develop an expansion of the Inga hydroelectric dam, potentially the largest hydropower site in the world. The money, combined with another $33 million from the African Development Bank, will fund technical studies to analyze the dam's environmental and social impact and ensure it is sustainable, the World Bank said in a statement.

Prize-winning African poet seeks to reclaim the Sahara

Headlines portray the Sahara as a barren desert that claims the lives of many African migrants but Nigerian poet Tade Ipadeola had a different story to tell -- and it was worth $100,000. Ipadeola's "The Sahara Testaments" won the most lucrative writing award in Africa, the Nigeria Prize for Literature, for his account of the history and culture of the world's largest desert. He said the Sahara's true richness has been distorted by horrific tragedies involving migrants who have been found dead in north Africa after a failed attempt to start a new life in Europe.

"The 33" say their last goodbye to Chile

Santiago, Mar 17 (EFE).- The cast and crew of "The 33," a film about the dramatic 2010 rescue of 33 men from a mine in northern Chile, said goodbye to the Andean nation as the phase of postproduction in Canada begins. "It's been a great experience and we think we have a great film," producer Edward McGurn said in a statement to the press.
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