Strange Deaths of 1998.


A six-year-old boy collapsed in the playground at Coley Park Primary School in reading, Berkshire, on 14 January. Despite attempts to resuscitate the child, he died at the Royal Berkshire Hospital. "There were no visible injuries," said a police source. A year earlier, on 20 January 1997, eight-year-old Joanna Canlin collapsed and died in the same playground. No cause of death was ever established. Evening Standard (London) - 15 January 1998

Twenty-nine people died on 11 January in the flood-swollen and crocodile-infested Limpopo river bordering Zimbabwe and South Africa. A preacher of the Apostolic Faith sect had knelt on the river bank in prayer and said that he had received "divine guidance" that God had cleared the way for them. Three days later, the death toll from trying to cross the Limpopo had risen to 36. The Times, Daily Telegraph - 15 Januray 1998

Lantod Gumiliu, 32, a member of the Mangyan tribe in the Philippines, was found dead inside a giant python after tribesman found the bloated snake, killed it and cut open its stomach. South China Morning Post - 16 January 1998

After an argument, a 25-year-old Argentine man pushed his wife, aged 20, out of a window on the eighth floor of an aprtment block in the working class suburb of Bodeo Aires. Her legs became entangled in power cables, breaking her fall, and in an apparent attempt to finish her off, the man tried to jump on top of her. He missed and fell to his death. The woman managed to swing over to a balcony. Reuters - 15 January998


Matthew Hubal, 22, was sliding down a ski run in San Anselmo, California, at 3am, when he crashed into a lift tower and died. He was sliding on a makeshift sledge of yellow foam. The lift towers are meant to be cushioned by this foam, and the tower he hit was the one from which he had stolen his sledge. As the report says "There's a moral in there somewhere". The Guardian - 6 February 1998

Werner Shenke bit off another man's ear during a bar room battle in Bremen, Germany, and then choked to death on it. Daily Record - 26 February 1998

Three Japanese men in their fifties, all from the same company, hanged themsleves in seperate rooms in the same TOkyo hotel on 26 February. Each was wearing an identical white shirt when found hanging from identical white ropes. Reuters - 27 Feb 1998


In an apparent case of ostension (folklore becoming actual news), wealthy Charles Felder, 71, died after his cleaner, 47-year-old Pauline Jassey, unplugged his life support machine to use the vacuum cleaner in his bedroom in Dallas, Texas. Daily Record - 7 March 1998

Alberto Alvadoros, 34, exploded and died as surgeons in Guayaquil, Ecuador, used a scapel to open him up. Heat from the instrument ignited methane in his gut, causing a ball of flame. Operating staff suffered minor injuries and shock. The Sun - 7 March 1998

Rafael Garviso, 57, awoke on 6 March to find his white Toyota Tercel missing. It had been towed away in the night. He confronted his neighbour Marcelino Colina, 49, and Eduardo Ponce de Leon, 70, the owner of the apartment complex, and shot them both dead before killing himself. He had only lived in the apartment for a week. Reuters - 9 March 1998

Lift engineer James Raynor, 61, of Netherhall, Leicester, tied a noose to the top of an elevator shaft, stood on the lift roof and waited patiently in the dark for it to go down. He was killed when the lift was called to a lower floor. He was depressed after losing his licence for drink-driving. The Mirror - 12 March 1998

Felipe Ortiz, 48, fishing in Columbia, cast a line into the teeth a gale - and suffocated when the bated hook blew back into his throat. Efforts to save him by slapping his back failed. Daily Mail - 17 March 1998

Felipe Ortiz, 48, fishing in Columbia, cast a line into the teeth of a gale - and suffocated when the bated hook blew back into his throat. Efforts to save him by slapping his back failed. Daily Mail - 17 March 1998


Gumilid Lantod was alone in the jungle catching bats on Mindoro Island in the Philippines when a 23ft (7m) python bit him on the foot and squeezed him to death. Pythons can tell when their victims are dead when they can no longer feel a pulse. Then the monster swallowed the 154lb (60kg) man. Friends later found the snake and slit it open, finding the father of six already half digested. About three days later, a two-month-old boy was consumed by a python in the Philippines' Cavite province. Express (Germany) 3 April; [AFP] 7 April 1998

A row between rival collectors of bat excrement - a valuable resource used in organic fertiliser - left five dead and two seriously injured after a home-made grenade was tossed into the mouth of a bat cave in the Pak Chong district of Nakhon Ratchasima province in Thailand on 2 April. A survivor told police the group was leaving the cave with seven sacks-full when the explosion ripped through them. A rival gang of dungmen was suspected. AFP - 5 April 1998

A 27-year-old French woman, driving near Marseilles on 5 April, killed a cyclist and injured another after she was distracted by her Tamagotchi virtual pet, attached to her car key ring, which started to send out distress signals. She aksed a companion in the car to attend to the electronic ovoid, but in the confusion she failed to see a group of cyclists on the road ahead and slammed into the back of them. The popular Japanese toys send out electronic bleeps when they need "feeding" or "cleaning". If they are not looked after, they "die". Rueters - 8 April 1998

At least 118 Muslim pilgims died in a stampede on the last day of the haj at Mina, outside Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Around noon on 9 April, pilgims were performing a ritual known as "stoning the Devil", which involves throwing seven chickpea-sized stones at each of the three pillars at Jamraat on the Mina plain three times over three days. Each pillar symbolises one of the temptations of Satan. Some elderly and ill pilgims fell off the Jamraat bridge; most deaths occured in the ensuing rush. An estimated 2.3 million pilgims from about 100 countries took part in this year's haj. On 2 July 1990, 1,426 pilgims were crushed in a tunnel stampede in Mecca; on 23 May 1994, 270 died in a stampede during the "stoning the devil" ritual; and on 15 April 1997, 343 pilgrims died when a fire swept through 70,000 tents at Mina. Associated Press - 9 April 1998

Carmine Capuani, 79, a parish priest in central Italy, was found dead on Easter Sunday (12 April) in the bell tower of his church, probably being struck by his bell. Parishioners alerted firemen after he failed to show for Mass. Hong Kong Standard - 13 April 1998

A 32-Year-old German died on 9 April when a camp site lavatory exploded as he tried to light a cigarette, blasting him through a closed window. Police in Montabaur, south of Bonn, said the explosion appeared to have been caused by leaking gas from the septic tank or a defective natural gas pipe. Reuters - 13 April 1998

Geoff Birch, 52, Captain of Bells at St Luke's Church in Sheen near Buxton in the Peak District, was found hanging from his own bell rope by a local farmer. He had apparently silenced the bells so no one in the village would be alerted to his apparent suicide. Evening Standard - 15 April 1998

Moscow has a vast underwater network of heating pipes, many of which are now crumbling and cracking. Marina Yarova, 45, was walking her two dogs in northwest Moscow in March when the gorund opened up beneath her, and she fell into a sinkhole of steaming mud and water and started to boil like a lobster in a pot.

Local newspapers carried terrifying accounts of attempts by passers-by to rescue her with a dog leash. A few weeks earlier, a nine-year-old boy was killed in another sinkhole of boiling water. Toronto Globe and Mail - 18 April 1998

A nine-year-old Swiss boy was crushed to death by a large snowball he had made with his younger brother, aged five. When it started rolling down a slope, he slipped and was crushed. AFP - 20 April 1998

Hailstones up to 7.5cm (3in) fell on the Chinese province of Jiangxi on 22 April, leaving 12 people dead and 1,000 injured. The following day, hailstones up to 8cm (3.1in) in diameter pounded the city of Changde in northern Hunan province, killing a further nine people as well as demolishing houses and flattening crops. Hong Kong Standard - 26 April 1998


Hideto "Hide" Matsumoto, 33, lead guitarist for X-Japan, one of Japan's most popular rock bands, hanged himself on 2 May with a towel hooked to a doorknob. This sounds like a difficult way to go; we can't quite figure it out. One distraught fan killed herself and at least two others tried to. Associated Press - 8 May 1998

A 49-Year-old accountant in St Louis pried open often-stuck elevator doors with a rod, squeezed through and fell to her death. The elevator indicator was correctly showing that the car was one floor above. North Bay (Ontario) Nugget - 9 May 1998

Two people died in an explosion at a garden gnome factory near Zielona Gora in Western Poland on 14 May. Three other workers were injured. Reuters - 15 May 1998

Motorway labourer Michael Cuthbert, 43, came into contact with an unspecified chemical being used at roadworks on the A2 at Gravesend in early May and collapsed on the way to another raodworks site in Faversham. He was taken to the Medway Hospital in Gillingham, Kent, where an emergency team tried to resuscitate him. In a development reminiscent of the Riverside fumes case staff and patients broke out in rashes and struggled for breath as fumes spread throught the emergency treatment cubicles.

The crisis was exacerbated by a power failure at the accident centre, which closed the ventilation system, forcing a full-scale evacuation as resuscitation attempts continued. Cuthbert, a Scot working for a gang contracted by EFM Ltd, a West Sussex roadworks firm, died on 14 May of a heart attack. It is unclear whether this was a direct result of the chemical contamination. Daily Telegrph - 16 May 1998

Eight Vietnamese catholics, including five children, were killed when a large brick cross crashed through a church roof during a sudden storm on 16th May. Six others were injured as 30 worshippers fro the Tam Heip commune gathered in the newly-built church.

A priest in the Ha Tay parish, west of Hanoi, said there were no safety standards for churches as they were built and financed privately. Deutsche Presse-Agentur - 21 May 1998

A Russian woman took her dog for a walk after it started barking late at night and then apparently left it in her yard tied to a post, still barking. Annoyed neighbourss called the police. According to Izvestia, the Russian daily: "The policemen, without any reason, decided to shot the dog."

The first nine shots from their pistols missed, bit one of them broke the leash, sending the animal running frantically around the yard. "The policemen ran after the dog, shooting at the silhoutte in the dark. The 13th bullet hit the owner, who was trying to catch the animal, in the heart." This incompetent manslaughter landed them in Yekaterinburg court. Reuter - 27 May 1998

Patricia Nosiglia, 22, died on the 16 May after she picked up her phone receiver in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and received a 13,000 volt shock that knocked her to the floor. Police said the shock was caused by an electric cable that crossed the telephone line running from the street to the house. Associated Press - 28 May 1998


A circus act in Romania ended in tragedy on 23 JAnuary when fire-eater Vlad Cazacu, 43, belched in mid-performance and was blown to bits.

"In the first part of the performance," said fellow circus performer Nicole Antosu, "Vlad held a flammable cocktail in his mouth to spit fire at a burning torch. Somehow, he must have swallowed some of the liquid, because when he burped he triggered an explosion." The Parrot (Accra, Ghana) - 2-8 June 1998


While working a night shift at a laundry in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, on 23 November 1996, Ray Washbrook, 26, clambered into a giant tumble dryer to remove a piece of linen that had got stuck.

While he was inside, the drum started to spin at between 40 and 60 rpm, and for 20 minutes he was thrown around the machine as it reached 110 degrees Centigrade (230 Fahrenheit). His body was found the next morning. Times - 11 June 1998


In an effort to kill fish, Daniel Wyman, 29, and his friend tossed an M-250 fire-cracker into Fox lake, Illinois, on 14 June. A gust of wind pushed their 14ft (4m) aluminium rowing boat over the firecracker, which holed the vessel and sank it 300ft (90m) from shore. Wyman drowned while his friend swam to safety. Associated Press - 17 June 1998

Larry Slusher, 47, from Arjay, Kentucky, asked his best friend to shoot a beer can off the top of his head. The friend obliged, aimed his .22 calibre semi-automatic at the can, but missed and shot Slusher in the head. He died in Hospital in Knoxville two days later. Silas Cadwell,47, also from Arjay, was charged with murder. The friends had been drinking at a party on 21 June and were hanging out at a parking lot when the botched William Tell stunt took place. Associated Press - 23 June 1998

Matthew Messing, 16, was playing ice hockey in Quincy, Massachusetts, one evening in 1995 when an opponent intercepted him with a routine bump to the chest. He collapsed on the ice and died instantly. The incident, along with nearly 70 others reported in recent years, had baffled doctors. In each case, they found no injury ti the heart and no previous heart condition in the victims. Now the explanation for the rare deaths, which go by the medical name commotio cordis - concussion of the heart - may have been found. Dr Gregory Curfman and others suggest that the deaths result from an unusual conjunction of events. When the heart is beating, there is a fleeting moment, about a hundredth of a second long, when the electrical rhythm is resetting, so to speak, just before a beat. During that moment, if a moderate blow is directed to exactly the spot on the chest above the heart, the electrical rhythm breaks and the heart stops beating, fibrillating ineffectively. If the blow is too strong or too weak, or the timing is a few milliseconds off, death is averted.The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol 338, No 25 - 18 June 1998


Drunken revellers fatally stabbed Ely Dignadice, 29, after he sang an off-key rendition of a popular love song, "Remember Me", at a Manila karaoke bar. His performance drew jeers from 10 men, who later attacked him with knives, wooden clubs and a gun. Independant - 7 July 1998

After casting a "bulletproff" spell over two men, James Numeni, a traditional herbalist "witch doctor" from the central Liberian town of Gharnga, shot and killed his two patients on 10 July in a test to see if his incantation had worked. He was arested and charged with murder. The victims were shot several times in the face and chest. Associated Press - 13 July 1998

An Australian mime collapsed and died from a massive heart attack during a performance at a Canadian street performers' festival as 300 stunned spectators watched in horror. Wayne Condo, a 45-year-old mime from Melbourne, Australia, was midway through his last show on 13 July at the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival when he suddenly fell to the ground and lay motionless. Initially, people thought it was part of his act; but when they realised something was wrong, they tried to resuscitate him. Rushedto a nearby hospital, he was pronounced dead the next day. Infobeat - 16 July 1998

A publican committed suicide with carbon monoxide in his car when his bar - the Kaleidoscope in Birmingham city centre - was converted into a Seventiestheme pub, because he couldn't bear the idea of wearing flared trousers and a wig at work. Donald Cameron, 39, believed he would be ridiculed if he swapped his traditional suit and tie for a "ludicrous" outfit. Guardian, Daily Telegraph - 16 July 1998

Khandal Tripura, 35, of Chinchharipara village in Ramgararh district, Bangaldesh, caught a cobra on 20 July and started playing with it. The snake bit him on the hand, and in his anger he bit the snake's head. He died in hospital the next day. The snake also died. Independant - 22 July 1998

P Kanatazan, 33, having sex with his wife, Lim Set Lee, 36, accidentally killed her when he tried to silence her moans of passion with a pillow. He was jailed for 18 months in Perak, Malaysia. Sun - 29 July 1998

Adam Gotz, 34, a student of ancient Egyptian history from Baden Wurttemberg, threw himself to his death off the 613ft (187m) Cairo Tower on 28 July to demonstrate to his friend, Sarah Klimer, his Pharaonic belief that the dead return to life. He was a "spiritual psychiatrist" who believed the Giza pyramids provided spiritual energy to enable believers to transcend humanity. Reuters, Associated Press - 31 July 1998


Harun Mamat, 47, who climbed a tree to pick mangosteens ( a tropical fruit somewhat like an orange) was killed by hunters who mistook him for a squirrel. Mr Harun was hot in the chest while perched in the tree on 3 August in a village near Kotu Baharu in the northen Malaysian state of Kelantan. One of the hunters was detained for questioning. Associated Press - 5 August 1998

Alan Wardour, 52, died on 23 August after falling 30ft (9m) into a vat of molten zinc at the South East Galvanising Company in Witham, Essex. Workmates saw Mr Wardour fall 30ft (9m) from an overhead crane gantry into the 500C metal, used for galvanising window frames and doors.

Despite completely disappearing beneath the surface, he managed to climb out unaided and was rushed still conscious to hospital in Chelmsford, where he died later with 100 per cent burns. Evening Standard (London), Halifax Evening Courier - 24 August 1998

Gregg Kaplan, 36, had a fatal heart attack on his wedding night in New York while he and his bride were being carried around the room on raised chairs in a traditional Jewish way of celebrating marriage. Independant - 26 August 1998.

Pascal Gbah,49, a colonel and electronics engineer in the Ivory Coast army, was fatally wounded by gunfire on 24 August as he tested a "magic" belt supposedly with powers to protect him from bullets. He died on the spot near the western town of Aboisso after being hit by a bullet fired from his own service pistol by a 20-year-old son of the magic belt's maker. Gbah's cousin Andre Gondo, who made the belt, insisted that its protective powers were real, provided one abstained from sex while wearing it. Gbah is survived by a wife and six children. An army spokesman siad Gondo had been arrested, but that his son was on the run. Reuters - 26 August 1998.

Blue skullOn 25 August 1998, Franc Filipic, 47, drowned in an eastern Slovenian lake when he was pulled in by his catch. Determined to land the sheat fish, a kind of catfish, he walked into the lake after hooking it and refused to let go when it pulled him under. According to a friend, his last words were: "Now I've got him!". Police and divers found Filipic's body after a two-day search. The fish was not found. The friend said it was six feet (1.8m) long and weighed about 110lb (50kg). Associated Press - 26 August 1998

A giant flower stall parasol was blown into the air in freak 81mph (130km/h) winds in Cardiff and crashed down on Selena Andrews, 83, who died from head injuries. The inquest was told that such gusts occured once every 15 years. The Sun - 29 August 1998.


A young Saudi man, camping with two friends on top of a mountain, was killed instantly when he took a call from a friend on his mobile phone during a storm and the phone was struck by lightning. Johannesburg Citizen - 4 September 1998

When miserly Gil sarentis, 52, of Tampa, Florida, accidentally flushed $40 down his lavatory, he refused to give up the cash as lost. Instead, he opened his 1,600 gallon septic tank, was overcome by the methane fumes, fell in face first and drowned. News of the World - 30 August; Guardian - 5 September 1998

Blue skullJonathan Wickings, 18, from Portsmouth, was snorkelling off Majorca during a catamaran trip when he was jabbed by the spine of a spider fish, a species of te weever fish found of the British shores. He managed to clamber back onboard, foaming at the mouth, before collapsing. He was rushed ashore by speedboat where doctors tried to save him with heart massage and an adrenaline injection. Such bites are rather like being stung by a wasp and are rarely fatal; but in this case it probably provoked an allergic reaction. Times, Daily Mail - 5 September 1998

A 25-year-old man died on 7 September after being struck on the head by a woman whizzing by on a roller coaster at Paramount's Great America Theme Park in Santa Clara, California. He jumped over a fence into a resticted area to retrieve a hat blown off his wife's head while she was riding "Top Gun". A woman accidentally kicked the man when her car passed him and was treated for leg injuries. The man was initially identified as Hector Mendoza, 25; but it later appeared that he had taken over the identity of the real Hector Mendoza, who was alive in Mexico, and whose driver's license and social security number had apparently been stolen. The dead man's identity was a mystery. Associated Press - 7 September; San Francisco Chronicle - 12 September 1998.

Aaran J Archibald, 15, was sitting by a camp-fire in Forest, Indiana, on 12 September 1998 when a friend tried to put out a burning a burning marshmallow with a metal roasting stick. When he swung it, the metal prongs flew a few from the handle and landed in Archibald's left temple. He died later in hospital. Asscociated Press - 13 September 1998

Stephanie Breeding, 17, drowned in Seattle on 12 September when the car in which she was a passenger crashed through a guard-rail on the Evergreen Point floating bridge. The two men she was with managed to swim to safety, but she was trapped inside. She was a cancer survivior who, at the age of nine, had received a heart transplant from someone called DJ who had drowned in a ditch with his friends. In May 1997, Breeding and her mother appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show in which she and other organ recipients were introduced to relatives of their donors. Sun (Bremerton WA) - 15 September 1998

Jose Ricart, 53, was run over and killed by a truck while crossing the road in Burgos, Spain, while carrying a banner which procalaimed "The end of the world is nigh". Sun - 18 September 1998

David Chain, an activist for the radical environment group Earth First!, was struck on the head and killed by a falling tree on 17 September while trying to block logging on ancient redwoods along Grizzly Creek near Fortuna, California.

Earth First! said that the logging was destroying the protected habitat of the marbled murrelet, an endangered seabird. Rocky Mountain News - 18 September 1998

A man died from eating and choking on his own flesh. A maid at the McLaren Hotel on Main Street, Winnipeg, found him dead in his room last September. He had severe calluses on his feet and apparently tied to cure the condition by biting off the dead skin. Canadian Press - 23 September 1998

Nell Rein, 66, who suffered from Alzheimer's disese and live in a nursing home in Jackson, Mississippi, died after being bitten all over her body hundreds of time by fire ants while she lay in bed, Staff found her, still covered in ants, in the early morning of 30 August and she died four days later from heart failure brought on by phyiological stress. Associated Press - 26 September 1998


Melvyn Nurse, 35, a clergyman, used a .357 calibre Magnum revolver loaded with one blank round to dramatise his sermon before a packed congregation at Livingway Christian Fellowship Church Internationl in Jacksonville, Florida on 26 September. He illustrated each of the seven deadly sins by playing Russian roulette, spinning the chamber and holding the gun to his head. After one spin, the gun fired and the cardboard wadding in the blank pierced his temple, inflicting fatal brain injuries.

He fell out of sight and the congregation of 250, including his wife Debra and their four daughters, waited, thinking Mr Nurse would resume his sermon. He was eventually rushed to Univeristy Medical Centre, where he died five days later. Blanks contain a hard cardboard-like wad that shoots several feet from the barrel when fired. It seemed likely that Nurse didn't realise they could cause injury. AP, Reuters - 2 October, Daily Telegraph - 3 October 1998

Mrs Hazel Murphey awoke in a Houston, Texas, motel to find hundreds of Brazilian fire ants, each as big as a thumbnail and the world's largest ants, crawling all over the bed she was sharing with her husband. The husband died from the bites. Daily Telegraph - 4 October 1998

Mykola Skokov, 23, who worked at a metallurgical plant in the Ukranian city of Donetsk, died after falling into a container of molten steel at 800 degrees Centigrade (1568 Fahrenheit). Edinburgh Evening News - 27 October 1998

Jonathan Capewell, 16, was so obsessed with smelling fresh that he would cover his entire body with deodorant at least twice a day. When his parents told him he was using too much and they could taste the stuff downstairs in the kitchen, he laughed it off. He was found dead after spraying himself with anti-perspirant in his bedroom in Oldham, Greater Manchester. Three empty deodorant canisters were found. A post mortem showed that his body contained 0.37mg of butane per litre of blood and a similar amount of propane. Only 0.1mg of either gas can kill. It is believed the gases built up in his body after six months of intensive spraying. The death was thought to be the first from accidental inhalation in the country abd there was no evidence to suggest that he was a solvent abuser. Manchester Eve. News - 28 October; Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Independant, Northern Echo - 29 October 1998

Blue skullHarris Simbawa (or Simwaba), 28, caught a fish on the banks of the Chengu River, near Livingstone, Zambia. He tried to bite its head, the local method used to kill fish; but the catch slipped down his throat, choking him to death. Villagers found his body with a stick dangling from his mouth. He had apparently tried to dislodge the fish with the stick, but had only pushed it further down his gullet. Daily Telegraph, Johannesburg Citizen - 28 October 1998


Five Buddhist worshippers were killed on 2 November when three giant ceremonial joss sticks collapsed at one of Thailand's most sacred sites, the Phra Pathom Jedi temple 36 miles (58km) north-west of Bangkok. The 79ft-88ft (24m-27m) tall joss sticks, said to be the largest ever built in Thailand, crumbled under their own weight, possibly because they were soaked by heavy overnight rain, though the poilce blamed inadequate foundations. The victims were among more than 1,000 Buddhists attending the ceremony at the temple. The joss sticks, built last April to commemorate the 84th anniversary of the construction of a Buddha image at the temple, were made from thousands of smaller joss sticks bundled together on a wire frame. Reuters, Bangkok Post, Daily Telegraph - 3 November 1998.

Dance teacher Alberto Fargo tangoed to his death straight out of a fifth-floor window. Police in Lisbon, Portugal, said Fargo was showing his dance class how to keep the head high by looking at the ceiling. Sunday Independant (Dublin) - 15 November 1998

Blue skullFishermen in Cabo Delgado province, Mozambique, found abandoned agricultural pesticide and dumped it along the Indian Ocean coast to poison fish and boost their catch. As a result 586 people were poisoned, 50 of whom died. Daily Telegraph - 19 November 1998

Blue skullThree men died in a well in Hodeida, western Yemen, on 19 November when the owner tried to get a dead cat removed, reported the Al-Thawra newspaper. A specialist cleaner was the first to climb down a rope into the well, but he fainted from the stench and drowned. His brother and another man drowned when they went in after him. A fourth man went to the rescue, but wa unable to climb back up the rope. He was saved when police arrived and pulled him out, but remained gravely ill. AP, AFP - 22 November 1998


A Belgian Air Force plane dropping crates of food by parachute to starving villagers in the Sudan scored a direct hit on a hut, killing one man and injuring two others. A spokesman for the Belgian Ministry of Defence said: "The hut was hidden by tall grass and the crew didn't spot it until it was too late. Daily Record - 3 December 1998

Barbara Rock, 54, headteacher of Highgate Pre-preparatory School in London, was standing on a window ledge trying to get rid of a cobweb in her holiday home in Suffolk when her husband came in and she lost her balance and fell to the ground. She was treated in Colchester hospital for injuries to her pelvis and lower back and given crutches to walk on. Back in London a week later, she was doing step exercises on a box as therapy for her injuries when she fell out of the first floor window. She suffered serious head injuries and died in hospital six days later. Camden New Journal - 3 December 1998

Blue skullA chicken theif called Henri, forced by an enraged mob in Donuala, Cameroon, to eat the bird - feathers, bones,and beak - collapsed soon afterwards. Reuters - 3 December 1998

Blue skull After the birth of her first child in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, in April 1998, Debra Tomkinson-Batty, a keep-fit enthusiast, suffered massive internal bleeding when the tissue around her liver became torn. She died from a heart attack three days after the birth. The coroner told an inquest in Sheffield in December that such a death was unrecorded in medical literature. There were recorded cases of women rupturing their liver during childbirth, but it had never been fatal. Daily Telegraph - 8 December 1998

Blue skull Icicles loosened by warm temperatures fell from a roof top in Kiev. killing one woman and injuring another. The women, aged 61 and 24, were standing at the entrance to an office building in the Ukranian capital when the falling icicles hit them. Halifax Evening Courtier - 17 December 1998

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