Snake on a plane grounds Emirates flight

DUBAI (AFP): An Emirates flight from Muscat to Dubai was cancelled after baggage handlers discovered a snake in the aircraft’s cargo hold. The animal was found before Sunday’s flight from Oman, the airline said in a statement, adding that the aircraft was returned to service after being thoroughly searched. First class passengers on an Aeromexico flight in November were confronted by a snake that fell from an overhead storage compartment. Nobody was hurt in the incident but a few passengers were rattled.



Australian man plays lawn bowls for 73 hours

Brisbane (BBC): A man in Australia has attempted to set a world record by playing lawn bowls continuously for three days. Shayne Barwick bowled for 73 hours in the remote Queensland town of Cloncurry, 1700km (1056 miles) northwest of Brisbane. Mr Barwick, who was raising money for his club, believed 73 hours was the current record. But he said he “really put his foot in it” after learning a singles bowling record did not exist.

“I was reading in the Guinness Book of rules and regulations and I thought it said 73 hours to beat (the record). But it wasn’t - it was the age of some bloke,” Mr Barwick told The North West Star. “I’m going to the pub with my mates (to) have a beer, have a cigar and relax.”

The Cloncurry Bowls Club said Mr Barwick was now the “Guinness World Record holder”, but a spokeswoman for the company could not immediately confirm the claim.

Starting at 09:00 on Friday, the 46-year-old club manager was allowed a 10-minute break every four hours.

He was brought water and food on the green, while an ambulance crew was on standby.

Mr Barwick rolled his final ball at 10:00 on Monday, cheered on by what the local newspaper called “seemingly half the town”.

“It’s a superhuman effort, there’s no other term for it,” Cloncurry mayor Gregory Campbell told the BBC.

“I’ve done some pretty long stints at work but never anything that comes close to 73 hours.”

Mr Barwick hoped to raise A$20,000 (£12,000; $15,000).



Mercedes claims luxury pole position over BMW

FRANKFURT AM MAIN (AFP): German carmaker Mercedes-Benz on Monday said it had overtaken homegrown rival BMW to deliver the most luxury vehicles of any manufacturer in 2016. The Stuttgart-based firm sold almost 2.1 million vehicles worldwide, marking growth of 11.3 percent compared with 2015, parent company Daimler said in a statement. It was the first time Mercedes sold more than two million vehicles in a year, allowing it to reclaim the top spot it lost to its Munich rival in 2005. “Extraordinary growth, especially in China and Europe, has placed us at the top in the luxury segment,” Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said. Mercedes had achieved its best year ever by sales for the sixth time in a row, he added. China was a powerful growth market, with Mercedes boosting sales there by 26.6 percent over the year.

While the group also saw double-digit sales growth in Europe, adding 12.4 percent, US business shrank slightly by 0.8 percent.

Daimler also reported best-ever sales for its Smart compact car, which added 21 percent compared with 2015 to hit 144,500 vehicles sold worldwide.

BMW is set to release its figures for the full year 2016 later on Monday.

But data issued in December showed that in the first 11 months of the year, the Munich-based manufacturer sold just over 1.8 million vehicles - 5.6 percent higher than in 2015, but well short of Mercedes’ full-year total.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen’s luxury brand Audi reported on Monday that it had sold 1.87 million vehicles in 2016, up 3.8 percent on the previous year but likely relegating it to third place.

The Ingolstadt-based firm suffered “strong headwinds from many important markets,” board member Dietmar Voggenreiter acknowledged.

Some Audi cars were among the Volkswagen vehicles affected by the ‘dieselgate’ scandal, which saw the auto giant admit to building devices designed to cheat regulatory emissions tests into 11 million vehicles worldwide.