Swans' rapid reproduction threatens fowl and people alike
Twenty-two years ago when the first swan was first introduced around the Danube near this city of 38,000 that straddles the Hungarian border, nobody expected it would turn out this way.
Nowadays, the swan population is burgeoning and threatening to go out of control. At every lake, river or swamp, swan families abound, fiercely protecting their patch of water from other swan clans and other avian species. "They have fights for the lakes, and they are a threat for other water birds living on the lake because they take up too much space," said Pavol Binder, the head of the nature department at the Danube Museum in Komárno. "We have noticed that ducks are being forced out by them."
While Binder said the indigenous swan population is reproducing rapidly, they are being joined by foreign fowl. "They have been moving here from the Czech Republic," Binder reported. "They like this environment, and they can find lots of food here."
Just 12 years ago, there were only 26 swan families in the marshy areas created by the mighty Danube and its tributaries. Now, the number has risen to such a level that people are being threatened, especially when eggs have been laid, and adult swans are more aggressive in protecting them. "I was walking around a nest one time when a swan noticed that I had gotten too close to the nest," Binder related. "He slapped me with his wing and broke my hand."
Binder said he has approached the Ministry of Agriculture to acquiesce to swan hunting to help reduce the swan population in the region. The Ministry hasn't responded to date.
Train smashes into trolleybus; all escape in time
As eighty sleepy-eyed passengers were riding the trolleybus as it crossed a railway crossing in the early morning hours on December 8 in this city of 93,000 in east Slovakia, they were awakened by the bus's sudden, abrupt halt.
What happened next was surely a cause for panic. As the bus sat straddled over the railway tracks with one of its two cords unattached from the electrical wire that propels the vehicle, warning lights started flashing, the chimes started clanging and the gates lowered, universal signals indicating that a train was flying down the tracks right toward them.
Hastily, the driver opened the door and the frightened passengers clambered out of the bus, still sitting disabled on the tracks. The trolleybus driver and the passengers could do nothing but watch as an express train speeding at 90 kilometers per hour from Krakow to Constanca, Romania plowed into the trolleybus and sent it hurtling down the tracks.
"The trolley bus was totally demolished, but we are happy that nobody was hurt," Peter Janus, the director of Prešov's Public Transportation Authority, said matter-of-factly.
Though Prešov is the only city in Slovakia where trolleybuses cross over railroad tracks, Janus said the Authority was not planning to change the route. "Probably 40 trolley buses cross this road every day during rush hour, and nothing like this has ever happened before," Janus said.
Chinese mob open fire on each other; one killed
About an hour before midnight on December 8 at Bratislava's M.R. Štefánik Airport, airport employees going about their jobs were startled by shrill screams piercing the windows into the terminal, followed by the rat-a-tat of gunfire.
In the parking area in front of the airport, a group of Chinese nationals waiting for a Tatra Air flight that was running later than scheduled from Zurich to Bratislava squared off and started shooting. After the melee ended, one Chinese lay dead, two others were severely injured and one slightly hurt. Others started to flee the fracas.
The group of Chinese that arrived on the flight were kept away from the scene by the airport staff. Bratislava police arriving at the scene took twelve Chinese in for questioning, with some involved in the shooting and others arriving on the flight.
While the cause of the gunfight is not known, one airport employee said the group that fired were waiting for the Tatra Air flight with its Chinese passengers. "Several Chinese were hanging around the airport and were waiting for the flight from Zurich," the airport employee said.
Police investigators have not released more information on the incident and refused to answer further questions.
Erotic massage bar burned to ground
It seemed like it would be business as usual shortly after the Afrodita erotic massage parlor in this city of 44,000 in southern Slovakia opened its doors for the night on December 9.
Already two regular customers were sitting idly at the bar, when the parlor's owner was called out, presumably to meet some new customers. But they weren't interested in patronizing the place. Instead, the two men started to beat the owner, and he screamed for help, according to those who were there. Then the two assailants ran into the lounge and set it on fire. In minutes, the whole parlor was up in flames, trapping some of the masseuses inside. Along with the guests, one 18-year-old masseuse managed to escape outside, but two of her colleagues weren't so fortunate. The gusty flames burned one 23-year-old masseuse so badly that she died before rescuers were able to help her, while a 21-year-old suffered severe burns and lapsed into unconsciousness.
While gutting the massage parlor, the fire also damaged other buildings adjoining the bar, with damage estimated to be 3 million Sk. Zvolen police investigators were not able to catch the perpetrators, not have they established a motive for the beating and the fire attack. But one investigator said the force was working on several leads. "The police have several reasons why this crime was committed, but it's too early to say which one is the right one," said investigator Ján Krankuš.
Compiled by Andrea Lörinczová from Sme and original reporting
18. Dec 1996 at 0:00