Odds & Ends

Devin D. O'Leary
4 min read
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Dateline: South Africa—A retired surgeon and his brother were killed in Polokwane last Friday when their homemade hyperbaric chamber exploded. Dr. Paul Eloff, 76, was undergoing treatment for poor blood circulation inside the pressurized oxygen chamber located in his brother's back yard. Eloff's brother Gerhard, 66, was standing near the heavy steel cylinder with his 27-year-old son Georg when the device exploded. The blast ripped open the steel wall of the cylinder, which was between four and six inches thick, and shattered windows on surrounding houses. Dr. Eloff's remains were found about 30 feet away from the chamber. Its hatch lay about 50 feet away. Georg escaped with only minor injuries, but the elderly brothers were killed instantly. “The remains were taken away in plastic bags. It was horrific,” neighbor Marieta Herselman told South Africa's Sunday Times. “It was like scraping leaves together in your garden and putting them in plastic bags.” A police spokesman confirmed that the chamber was a “homemade thing and they didn't have a license for it.” Hyperbaric treatment was originally developed to treat deep-sea divers for “the bends.” It is now used for a variety of ailments including carbon monoxide poisoning, anemia, bone infections and burns.

Dateline: Taiwan—The 60-ton carcass of a decomposing sperm whale exploded while being transported through Tainan City, splattering cars, shops and curious onlookers with blood, blubber and internal organs. The dead whale was being hauled on a flat-bed trailer to a research center where it was to be autopsied. Officials at the National Cheng Kung University had refused permission for a post-mortem to be carried out on the whale at their facilities. A professor by the name of Wang Chien-Ping ordered the remains to be taken to the Shi-Tsao Natural Preserve. Unfortunately, the 56-foot whale, which died on Jan. 17 after beaching itself on the southwestern coast of the island nation, burst while being transported. “Because of the natural decomposing process, a lot of gases accumulated, and when the pressure build-up was too great, the belly exploded,” Wang told the eTaiwannews website. The whale viscera stopped traffic for several hours while workers labored to clean up the bloody results. “What a stinking mess. This blood and other stuff that blew out on the road is disgusting, and the smell is really awful,” a BBC News report quoted one resident as saying. Researchers at Cheng Kung University said enough of the whale remained to allow for an examination by marine biologists. Once moved to the nearby nature preserve, the male specimen—the largest whale ever recorded in Taiwan—drew the attention of locals because of its large penis, measured at some five feet, the Taipei Times reported. “More than 100 city residents, mostly men, have reportedly gone to see the corpse to ’experience' the size of its penis,” the newspaper said.

Dateline: Nepal—Late last month, a 75-year-old man married a dog in a traditional good luck ceremony. Unfortunately, he died three days later. With his son and other relatives at his side, Phulram Chaudhary tied the knot with a dog on Saturday, Jan. 31, in Durgauri village in the southwestern Kailali district. Chaudary was following the custom of his traditional Tharu community, which believes that an old man who regrows his teeth must take a dog as his bride. “He believed that this would help him avoid great misfortune later in life. However, he died a few days afterward,” the state-run Gorkhapatra daily said.

Dateline: Ohio—Scandal has rocked the world of livestock. Three exhibitors at last year's Ohio State Fair have been disqualified for allegedly outfitting their Holstein cows with hairpieces. State Fair inspectors said the three men glued hair from another part of the animal or from another animal to create straighter backs on their cows and to “enhance their appearance in the show ring.” Kreg Krebs and his brother Kenneth of Fredricksburg, Ohio, and Scott Long of Clayton, Mich., could be required to forfeit all of their winnings, according to Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Melanie Wilt. Wilt said state inspectors at the fair discovered the taboo toupees when the cows were leaving the show ring on Aug. 10. Winnings have been withheld by fair officials pending an independent hearing on the hairpiece-enhanced heifers.

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. E-mail your weird news to devin@alibi.com.

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