Must-Reads from Around the World

A helicopter crash in central London, mercy killing of the elderly is a socially accepted practice in southern India and Chinese officials try to borrow orphans from a temple to cover up their failure to open an orphanage

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Neil Hall/Reuters

Emergency services attend the scene of a crashed helicopter in Vauxhall, London January 16, 2013. A helicopter crashed into a crane on top of one of Europe's tallest residential blocks in central London on Wednesday, killing two people as it burst into flames and threw plumes of smoke into the foggy air.

Copter Crash – A helicopter crashed into a construction crane in Vauxhall, an area south of central London, at 08:00 GMT (03:00 EST) on Wednesday morning killing two people, reports the BBC. Four people, one of whom was critically ill, were taken to a nearby hospital while five others were treated at the scene. A spokesperson for the Metropolitan police said the helicopter was diverted to Battersea heliport in the early morning mist. The helicopter, whose pilot was killed, crashed into the road hitting vehicles and setting fire to nearby buildings. The Met has told the BBC that it is not believed the accident is linked to terrorism.

Dreamliners Grounded – It has been a bleak day for aviation across the globe with the decision to ground the new 787 aircraft Dreamliner fleet in Japan, writes the New York Times. Japan’s two largest airlines, All Nippin Airways and Japan Airlines, decided to halt the Boeing 787 aircrafts following an emergency landing involving battery trouble and smoke. The decision to ground the fleet comes in the wake of a number of problems with Dreamliner aircrafts in the last month including battery fire, fuel leaks and a cracked cockpit window. Boeing has insisted that the aircrafts are no more prone to accidents than other airplanes, while safety experts believe that the problems are most likely connected with teething problems.

Indian Geronticide — The Los Angeles Times reports that the mercy killing of the elderly is a socially accepted practice known as thalaikoothal (“head pouring”) in southern India. When an elderly person becomes too ill and his family members can’t afford to care for him, they set a date for thalaikoothal. The practice, which has various forms, usually involves giving the victim an oil bath and an excessive amount of green coconut milk; reducing the body temperature of a sick person and feeding him excessive liquids can induce renal failure, leading to death, explain doctors. Sometimes victims are given “milk therapy” during which they are force-fed cow’s milk with their noses pinched shut, according to the Times. Despite the opposition of elderly rights groups, dozens or even hundreds of cases happen every year.

Orphanage Cover-Up — Chinese state media reported that government officials in the southern Guangdong province tried to cover up their failure to run an orphanage by asking to borrow a dozen orphans who were being cared for by a nearby Buddhist temple, notes the Guardian. The officials made the request, which was denied by an abbot, to prevent inspectors from discovering that the district had never run an orphanage even though it received funding for the project. The local government apologized for the incident, which was captured on video and circulated online, fired two staff and promised to spend 3 million yuan ($483,000) taking care of orphans.

Agent Execution – A French intelligence agent who has been held captive by the Somali Islamist group al-Shabab for three years is to be executed, reports Aljazeera. The decision was made following an unsuccessful attempt to rescue the captive on Saturday. French officials originally assumed that Denis Allex, the agent in captivity, had been killed during Saturday’s attack. Al-Shabab has told the AFP news agency that “with the rescue attempt, France has voluntarily signed Allex’s death warrant.” Two French soldiers died during the rescue bid while it is reported that 17 rebels and eight civilians also perished in the attempt to save him.