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Two Chinese nationals held with 162 kg pangolin scales

Gorkha Post

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KATHMANDU — The Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police has arrested two Chinese nationals for their alleged involvement in smuggling body parts of protected species to Nepal from Africa.

The arrestees have been identified as Qiu Guorong, 40, and Que Lebao, 34, according to CIB spokesperson SP Jeevan Shrestha. He said 162 kilograms of pangolin scales were seized from the duo. It is the single-largest haul of pangolin scales in Nepal.

The Chinese nationals, who arrived in Kathmandu from Istanbul on a Turkish Airlines flight yesterday, were found carrying the pangolin scales during an X-ray screening of their luggage in Red Channel Area of Tribhuvan International Airport Customs Office.

The Chinese national were handed over to District Forest Office, Kathmandu, for legal action under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act.

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Anyone involved in the trade of protected species may be slapped with a fine up to Rs 100,000 and a jail term of five to 15 years in accordance with the NPWC Act.

If a transnational crime is committed with the involvement of two or more members of the same gang, police may proceed action against them under the POC Act to demand a jail sentence of 20 years, along with property attachment.

Pangolin scales are in high demand in Asian markets, especially China, as they are used in manufacturing bulletproof jackets and traditional Chinese medicine and cost around USD 3,000 per kg in the international black market, a police source said.

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Thai authorities launch search for youth soccer team trapped in cave

AP Associated Press

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BANGKOK — Search and rescue teams on Sunday are looking for a dozen members of a youth soccer team who are missing since late Saturday afternoon, believed to be trapped in a cave in northern Thailand.

Police said local authorities, police and rescue workers were working with divers to find the 12 boys, aged 11-15, and their coach, who are believed to have entered the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Chiang Rai province.

The group were apparently trapped when a heavy storm flooded a stream at the cave’s entrance.

Police Colonel Komsan Saardluan said parts of the cave, which is an estimated 6-8 kilometres long, get flooded to a height of as much as 5 metres during the rainy season, which runs from June through to October.

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Footage on Thai television showed bikes and backpacks left at the cave entrance. ThaiPBS television reported the team members came from various schools in the province and were thought to have been practicing before going to the park where the cave is located.

The search began around midnight on Saturday after police received a report of a missing child from a mother who said her son had not returned from the soccer practice that evening, ThaiPBS reported.

It said the mother last spoke to her son when he told her in the afternoon he was with the group visiting a cave inside the Tham Luang-Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district.

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