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The Odd Truth, Dec. 13, 2003

The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's Brian Bernbaum. A new collection of stories is published each weekday. On weekends, you can read a week's worth of The Odd Truth.

Penis Falls Prey To Jealous Wife

MANILA, Philippines - A jealous wife cut off her sleeping husband's penis after finding a text message from another women on his mobile phone, a newspaper reported Friday.

Antonio Llanesiras, 30, was being treated at the Pasay City General Hospital.

Surgeons there saw little chance of reattaching the plumber's severed organ, which was brought in by the wife carefully wrapped in a piece of cloth, according to the Manila Standard.

It wasn't immediately clear if charges will be filed against the woman.

Parts Broker Goes Belly-Up

KIRKWOOD, Mo. - A man has apparently promised authorities he'll stop storing and brokering human body parts out of his home.

Richard Leutheuser, a designer and builder of swimming pools who dabbles in providing donated body parts for science, says he's working with this St. Louis suburb to find a location where zoning allows his sidelight business.

Leutheuser's business surfaced last month when FedEx workers opened leaking packages bound for his home and found an arm and two legs, each limb wrapped and placed in dry ice.

Leutheuser said he was a middleman for a California-based company, and investigators said he did nothing wrong, aside from having an unlicensed home business. City zoning rules also bar the storage of business inventory in a residential area, whether "they're body parts or whatever," said Dan Niebaum, Kirkwood city planner.

Leutheuser has told the city he would move that business to a site commercially zoned, Niebaum said.

Vodka-Wielding Dad Acquitted

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A man accused of pouring vodka into his 7-year-old stepson's feeding tube was found innocent by a jury.

The boy, who suffers from a rare medical condition but survived the incident, was hospitalized in July 2002 with a blood-alcohol level of 0.59 - almost double the amount considered a fatal dose.

Christopher Harmon was acquitted Thursday of first-degree criminal abuse, which could have landed him in prison for up to 10 years.

Harmon's attorney, William Sharp, tried to shift the blame for the incident to the child's mother, Cherie Glover, who was at home during the incident and was not charged.

The jury evidently "felt there was reasonable doubt as to who did it," prosecutor Shelly Gibson said after the verdict. Glover "is disappointed, as is the commonwealth," Gibson said.

The couple have separated, and neither testified in the trial.

The boy, who suffers from a rare cluster of birth defects and had a feeding tube through the abdomen, is "back to normal" and living with Glover, Gibson said. For a time, the child was in foster care.

Thieves Make Off With Rhino Horn

OSLO, Norway - Thieves stole the nose horn from a stuffed rhinoceros in a Norwegian museum, leading to fears that the horn was likely ground into a powder prized as an aphrodisiac in Asia.

Thieves broke into the Bergen Museum on Norway's west coast and used an angle grinder to remove the horn from the rhino, which had been part of the museum's collection for more than a century.

The Dec. 2 theft made national news Thursday after it was first reported by local newspaper Bergensavisen.

Supplies of ground rhinoceros horn are scarce because the giant animals are a protected species, and Trond Andersen, of the museum, said the likely motive was to use the horn to make the supposed aphrodisiac.

"That, at least, has been the main use for the horn from this extremely threatened species," Andersen was quoted as telling Bergensavisen.

The thieves tried to fool museum staff, installing a poorly made copy of the horn molded in plastic. Museum staff quickly spotted the fake.

Shanghai On Auto Redial

SHANGHAI, China - Shanghai has a warning for anyone cluttering its streets with illegal fliers: Expect a phone call. And another. And another.

Shanghai has unveiled a computer that repeatedly calls phone numbers listed in the ads, demanding that offenders take them down, a newspaper reported Friday.

Numbers will be called every two hours for the first two days, the Shanghai Daily said.

After that, the frequency increases steadily - up to once every eight seconds, the paper said in a story headlined: "Phone war waged on illegal posters."

The move is the latest tactic in a battle to curb unsightly ads that cover walls, lampposts and nearly every other public surface in one of the world's most crowded cities.

They tout products ranging from dubious herbal remedies to identity cards and services arranging cell phone numbers.

Offenders who get the computerized phone calls must either disconnect the numbers on the ads or appear for punishment, the Shanghai Daily said.

With fines ranging from $6 to $60, most are expected to choose disconnection, the newspaper said.

Giant Straw Goat Set Ablaze

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - A fiery Christmas tradition continued in a central Swedish city early Friday, when vandals burned a giant straw goat that rarely survives the holiday season.

The Christmas Goat in Gaevle, 90 miles north of Stockholm, was set ablaze shortly before 1 a.m., two weeks after it was set up by merchants, police said.

The goat survived Christmas last year for the first time since 1997. Since the tradition began in 1966, only 10 goats have made it through Christmas and New Year's Day.

The vandals are seldom caught, but in 2001, a 51-year-old visitor from Cleveland, Lawrence Jones, spent 18 days in jail for setting the goat ablaze.

This year, police said they had no suspects, but hoped pictures from a surveillance camera would help them find the vandals.

Meanwhile, merchants started rebuilding the goat and vowed to hire more security guards to watch it.

"This one is going to make it to Christmas," Christmas Goat committee chairman Kurt Lagerholm said.

Workers Taxed On $15 Holiday Bonus

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - Some bonus.

Hourly workers at Tower Automotive received $15 gift cards redeemable at Meijer grocery-retail stores before Thanksgiving. Then the automotive supplier decided the cards were "same as cash" gifts subject to federal and state income taxes totaling 36.75 percent.

That means the "gift" will take $5.51 out of the workers' next paychecks.

"It's got a lot of people ticked off," said Donald McKee of Kingsley, a welding technician. "This is the lowest they've gone yet to give us something and then take it back."

United Auto Workers Local 5110, which represents about 300 hourly workers, has filed a contract grievance over the matter. Some workers also have returned the gift cards rather than pay the tax.

Workers will still get Christmas bonuses. Tower said it will return to issuing gift certificates that can be redeemed for holiday turkeys or hams without being considered cash income.

Sewage Floods New Mexico Suburb

ALBUQUERQUE - About 10 families in a subdivision on Albuquerque's west mesa were forced out of their homes when raw sewage flooded their homes.

Ted Asbury, director of the city's public works department, said discarded cans and beer bottles likely caused a backup that sent gallons of fecal matter into homes Tuesday afternoon.

"There was this roar coming from our toilets and sinks, and then I looked outside and saw one manhole cover pop, then another down the street," said one resident, Michael Lucero Sr. "Next thing you knew, the sewage was coming out."

Lucero's neighbor, Rhonda Moya, said thousands of dollars in of Christmas gifts under her tree were ruined.

"The restoration people say that our tile will have to come out and the drywall in the walls will have to be cut ... because of all the hazardous stuff has seeped into the walls," Moya said.

A resident called dispatchers about 2:30 p.m., reporting his drains had backed up. When crews opened a manhole, they discovered the line blocked by trash.

"We found soda cans, plastics, beer cans, beer bottles," Asbury said.

Public works officials believe the material was dumped. The sewer line was not damaged.

"My crews in the field say they've never seen anything like this," Asbury said.

However, another resident, Ruby Hernandez, said the same thing happened five months ago. "The sewage came out on the streets," Hernandez said.

The city's risk management division paid for the displaced families to stay at a hotel while crews worked on the line, Asbury said. It was not clear how long repairs would take.

Cattle Rustler

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. - After two weeks on the run, a convicted burglar is back behind bars - but not before stealing a truck from a dealership and trying to sell stolen cows at auction.

Michael J. Parent, 42, of Glenwood City was discovered missing Nov. 23 from the McNaughton Correctional Center in Lake Tomahawk.

Parent escaped by stealing a prison vehicle, authorities said Wednesday. He drove it to a car dealership, where he took a pickup truck for a test drive and never returned.

Parent is also suspected of stealing calves from a Pierce County farm, which were reported stolen early Tuesday, and stealing a livestock trailer in Pepin County.

The Pierce County farmer called livestock auction barns to alert them to the theft, officials said. Hours later, they said, Parent showed up at Equity Livestock just south of Eau Claire with the trailer and calves.

Equity officials contacted the sheriff's department after they discovered the ear tags on the calves matched the tags reported by the farmer.

Parent fled on foot after authorities arrived at the auction house and hid in nearby woods before being captured two hours later. He could face charges of theft and possession of stolen property.

Low-Down High-Tech

SAMMAMISH, Washington - It's a new low in high-tech voyeurism. Authorities in Washington state charge that Jack Le Vu used his cell phone camera to take pictures up a woman's skirt.

Witnesses say Vu pretended to be looking at items on a low supermarket shelf and snapped pictures under an unsuspecting woman's skirt. The alleged victim tells the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that she was tending to her baby at the time. She adds it's the last thing you would expect in a public place.

According to prosecutors, Vu told investigators he has a panty fetish. He's been released on $25,000 bail and faces up to five years in prison if convicted. Officials at the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington DC say it's the first cell phone peeping case of its type they've heard about.

The Customer Is Always Right, Almost

NEW MILFORD, Conn. - Courtesy counts in dealing with customers, but it also has paid off for a supermarket cashier who says a rude customer turned out to be worth $25,000.

A grumpy customer was the source of luck for Loretta Morris who works at the Northville Market.

"We have a policy in our store to ask for a driver's license when someone buys lottery tickets, cigarettes or alcohol," Morris said Tuesday.

But one customer last Tuesday decided not to produce a picture ID to purchase a $5 Silver Bells scratch-off Connecticut state lottery ticket.

Morris said the customer told her to "stick the ticket," when she asked for proof he was 18.

At the end of her shift she decided to just buy the ticket instead of putting it back and having a loose ticket in the store.

She took the ticket home where she scratched the ticket, which had three chances to win.

Morris had almost given up when the little scratch-off wrapped present and the Christmas tree didn't yield prizes, but the third little scratch-off box made her an instant winner.

On Friday, she and her husband traveled an hour to New Britain's lottery office and returned with a check for $17,501 after federal and state taxes.

Boy Traded For Gasoline

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - A boy who was left with a Cambodian gasoline vendor as collateral for 0.8 gallons of gasoline earlier this year has been reunited with his family, a police officer said Thursday.

Ron Dy, 9, was handed over to his uncle, Roeun Eng, on Monday after gasoline seller Chim Thy appealed to the boy's parents through the media, said Ly Lim, a police chief in Kampong Thom province, 80 miles north of the capital, Phnom Penh.

Chim Thy, 70, had been caring for Ron Dy in Kampong Thom since February, when a man who claimed to be the boy's uncle said he couldn't pay for the fuel and left the boy as collateral while he went to get money. However, the man — who identified himself only as Vy — never returned and media earlier this month quoted Chim Thy as saying she wanted Ron Dy's relatives to pick him up.

Roeun Eng, 33, said Vy wasn't the boy's uncle but had offered to give him a ride on his motorcycle. It wasn't clear why Chim Thy waited 10 months before appealing to Ron Dy's family to claim the boy.

Roeun Eng gave the gasoline vendor $2.50 for looking after his nephew, and took Ron Dy to his mother and two siblings in the northwestern province of Siem Riep. Ron Dy cried as he said goodbye to Chim Thy, saying he wanted to visit her again one day, the Rasmei Kampuchea (Light of Cambodia) newspaper said.

Naked Mayor

HOUSTON, British Columbia - The picture shows Mayor Sharon Smith with a big smile and wearing only her chain of office at the town hall, but she's not smiling now that the image has gotten into public circulation.

Smith, 48, said that picture and others were stolen from her home computer more than a month ago in this northwestern British Columbia town of 4,300.

"I'm disappointed that the stories seem to focus on what the pictures are instead of that it was a theft from my home," Smith said. "Our family is the ones who are the victims here."

The picture was taken at a private time with her husband and was meant to remain private, the mayor said Monday.

"My husband asked for a specific picture because he was very proud of the fact that I was mayor and that was what it was intended for.

"No disgrace to the office was intended," she said. "We made sure that we were not infringing on anyone else. It was a private moment and that's all it was."

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Dave Fenson said investigators believe someone with access to the computer stole the pictures.

Nipper Kettle, a former town council member, said he recognized the location of the pictures as the mayor's office and urged Smith to apologize and resign because of a "catastrophic error in judgment."

Reindeer Herding: Sweden's Most Dangerous Job

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Forget poor Rudolph. It's the guy who has to herd him who has it tough.

Reindeer herders have the most dangerous line of work in Sweden, according to a new study that analyzed the causes of deaths among all jobs in the country of 9 million people.

Among the herders, who are mostly indigenous Sami in the country's far north, there were 150 deaths on the job between 1961 and 2000, said Per Sjoelander, one of the authors of "Fatal Accidents and Suicide Among Reindeer Herding Samis in Sweden."

The number of deaths was more than more than twice that for farmers and more than three times the total for construction workers during the same period.

"It's a dangerous job," Sjoelander said Wednesday. "They drive around on vehicles in difficult terrain and on thin ice. They work a lot. They work in a tough climate. So, there are many reasons behind this."

"The reindeer herders are often by themselves when working, which may be a factor to the high number of fatal, work-related accidents," said Sjoelander, who works in the Southern Lapland Research Department in Vilhelmina, 400 miles north of Stockholm.

The Sami, once called the Lapps, are believed to have followed herds of reindeer to Europe's northern fringe thousands of years ago. Like the Inuit of North America, they are an indigenous people of the Arctic.

Woman Killed By Tree

TITUSVILLE, Fla. - A woman on her morning jog was killed Tuesday after being crushed by a 40-foot magnolia tree that fell on her.

Amber Farrell, 27, was about 25 feet from the tree on a residential street when it fell and struck her from behind, trapping her under its 2-foot-thick trunk, said police spokesman Todd Hutchinson.

Farrell's husband reported her missing when she didn't return from her jog, but her body wasn't found until city workers began cutting up the tree to clear the street.

"I was standing over her and didn't know it," said Eddie Floyd, a tree cutter. "I was dropping limbs and didn't know it."

Hutchinson said the magnolia had appeared healthy. "There was no indication that the tree had any decay, but apparently the root was decayed," he said.

Gruesome Charity Ads Banned

LONDON - Children's charity Barnardo's was banned Wednesday from repeating three graphic newspaper advertisements that led to more than 450 complaints from the public.

The advertisements showed computer-generated photographs of baby boys and girls with cockroaches, syringes or bottles of methylated spirits in their mouths. Barnardo's claimed that they showed the reality of child poverty and reflected the work of the charity, which it said was often distressing.

But the Advertising Standards Authority decided that Barnardo's had "used shocking images to attract attention" and had caused widespread and serious offense. The campaign attracted the most complaints to the authority this year.

India Forbids Knitting In The Classroom

LUCKNOW, India - Teachers in India's most populous state have been told to stop knitting in classrooms and pay more attention to their students.

"They are often more interested in knitting than in teaching," Neera Yadav, the principal secretary of education for Uttar Pradesh, said Wednesday. "All the officials - including teachers and clerks - in the primary and secondary sections have been banned from knitting on school premises during teaching hours."

Complaints from parent groups prompted the ban, which went into effect Nov. 26.

Teachers, however, are fighting back.

"People concentrate better when they knit," argued Panchanan Rai, a teachers' representative in the state legislature.

"What's wrong if they sit in the staff room and knit during free periods?" asked R.P. Mishra, a spokesman for the Uttar Pradesh Secondary Education Teachers' Association, calling the ban "dictatorial."

Mishra said the teachers have threatened to strike for the right to knit, but the government has not responded.

Officials Admit Killing Australia's Biggest Tree

CANBERRA, Australia - Forest authorities admitted they had killed a eucalyptus reputed to be the nation's largest tree in a bungled burning operation to regenerate the surrounding woodland.

Conservationists in Tasmania state declared the tree dead in May. Known as El Grande, it stands 260 feet tall and 65 feet around its base.

State government forestry officials had hoped the tree would regenerate in spring, but on Wednesday acknowledged what angry conservationists had been telling them for months.

"Spring has now ended and a group of forest scientists has conducted an assessment of the condition of the tree," Forestry Tasmania general manager of operations Kim Creak said. "Unfortunately, it is deceased."

Geoff Law, a spokesman for the Wilderness Society, said the news of El Grande's death would reverberate around the world, undermining the state's image as a clean, green, pristine destination.

"It is significant that Forestry has confessed to killing the largest known living thing in Australia," he said.

Although there are taller trees in Tasmania, El Grande topped the list of the state's "most massive giants" with a volume estimated at 15,500 cubic feet and was protected under Forestry Tasmania policy.

Dudes And Don'ts

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Arvin Mayor Juan Olivares had just one request of a Kern County sheriff's deputy during a traffic stop - "Don't call me dude."

Olivares planned to file an official complaint with the sheriff's department, seeking to have the deputy fired for what he called disrespectful behavior.

"I asked him five times, 'Please, officer, don't call me dude.' I'm not a dude. I'm 41 years old, I'm a businessman, I'm a Christian and I consider myself a gentleman," Olivares said Monday.

Olivares is mayor of Arvin, a city of 20,000 in Kern County, about 20 miles south of Bakersfield.

The deputy stopped Olivares and Arvin City Councilwoman Carmen Acevedo in Bakersfield on Nov. 23. Olivares, who was driving, said he was ticketed for having illegally tinted windows on his vehicle, and Acevedo received a citation for having an open container of beer.

Olivares didn't dispute the charges. He just took issue with being called dude.

"He was calling me dude and laughing about it," Olivares said. "I don't think Kern County needs that kind of leadership."

Officials with the Kern County Sheriff's Department did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Ford: Piety Is Job One

AHMADABAD, India - Alfred B. Ford, the great-grandson of motoring legend Henry Ford, was preaching spirituality Monday at a western Indian business hub, where money means everything to its residents.

Clad in a silk kurta, or tunic, and a sarong, Ford chanted "Hare Rama Hare Krishna" as he laid the foundation stone of a Hare Krishna temple in Rajokot town.

"This material world can make no one happy. The ultimate beauty lies in heaven where Krishna resides," said Ford, who left his family's business to become a devotee of Hinduism' most popular god - Krishna.

"Krishna is the ultimate truth. He embodies all that is divine," he said.

In Rajkot, a busy trading center of India's most prosperous state, Gujarat, residents said Ford's visit was an eye-opener. For people who came to hear him, Ford is Ambarish Dasji - the name he got after becoming a Hare Krishna devotee more than two decades ago.

"I always admired the family for its business success, for showing the world how to run a mega corporation, but Ambarish Dasji opened my eyes," said Suryakant Patel, a local entrepreneur.

After renouncing his wealth "he looks so happy. His face is so calm," Patel said. "I will never forget this day."

Ford is in India to help the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, widely known as the Hare Krishna movement, build a $100 million sprawling complex at its headquarters in Mayapur town in the West Bengal state. Ford has donated about $10 million for the project.

Founded in 1966, the Krishna movement has more than 400 centers around the world.

Angry, Urine-Dousing Lawyer

SAN ANTONIO - A federal judge is to resume hearing testimony Monday in a case involving an angry lawyer who doused urine on office equipment in retaliation against a co-worker.

Gregory L. Fronimos, 49, is being prosecuted by the federal government for "malicious mischief" to government property.

His attorney, Michael McCrum, wants the judge to dismiss the case because he does not want embarrassing allegations that detail Fronimos' actions to be made public.

Fronimos reportedly caused more than $1,000 in damage to three telephones, a computer keyboard, and a computer last year.

U.S. Magistrate Pamela Mathy will listen to testimony on McCrum's request.

Federal prosecutors pursued charges after Fronimos confessed to his bosses at Brooks City-Base that he poured urine on the office equipment of a co-worker several times.

A court-filed Air Force memo said Fronimos was upset because a co-worker allegedly referred to him in a profane manner and disparaged him to other employees.

The incidents led to his resignation as a seven-year Air Force reservist. He also quit his job as a lawyer with the Air Force Center for Environmental Excellence in late January.

Pot Smoker Denied 'Drug War' Asylum In Canada

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - A man who said he would be persecuted in the United States for smoking marijuana to fight a rare form of cancer has been denied refugee asylum in Canada.

Steve Kubby lacks reasonable grounds to fear cruel and unusual punishment and therefore does not need protection, Immigration and Refugee Board adjudicator Paulah Dauns ruled Monday.

"There are no substantial grounds to believe that his removal to the United States will subject him personally to a danger of torture," Dawns wrote.

Kubby's wife Michele and their two young daughters were also denied asylum in Canada for the same reasons.

Kubby, 57, formerly of Lake Tahoe, Calif., said he would appeal to the Federal Court of Canada and might hire a lawyer. He did not have a lawyer in the hearing and sometimes was represented by his wife.

The family lives in Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast northwest of Vancouver and, without an appeal, would have to leave Canada within 30 days.

"We were just stunned when we saw the decision because it was just completely contrary to the testimony and the science and the evidence that we introduced," Kubby said. "We really think this decision is not only erroneous but a bigoted decision."

Kubby, a Libertarian candidate for governor of California in 1998, was granted permission by Health Canada to grow and smoke pot for medical reasons in August 2002.

Policeman Pretend

CLARKSTOWN, N.Y. - Mistake No. 1: Impersonating a police officer.

Mistake No. 2: Making a traffic stop.

Mistake No. 3: Stopping an off-duty state trooper.

Shalom Gelbman, 22, of New Square, N.Y., made all three mistakes, state police said.

Gelbman, with a strobe light on his dashboard and his high beams flashing, pulled a car over Wednesday night on the Palisades Interstate Parkway, police said. Inside the car was state Trooper Seamus Lyons, who arrested Gelbman. It was clear to Lyons that Gelbman wasn't a colleague, authorities said, because of his license plate number and the equipment he had in his car.

Gelbman was charged with reckless endangerment and criminal impersonation, police said, and was cited for having unauthorized equipment in his car, a dark blue Mercury Grand Marquis with tinted windows.

Gelbman was also ticketed for driving without a registration or insurance. He was released on $5,000 bail after being arraigned in Clarkstown Justice Court.

Tranny Wins Turner Prize

LONDON - A cross-dressing ceramic artist whose vases are drawn with images of sex acts, child abuse and death, was named Sunday as winner of the Turner Prize for contemporary British art.

Grayson Perry, 43, collected the $34,000 prize at a ceremony at the Tate Britain art gallery in London, dressed as his alter ego Claire, a character that appears in some of his works.

The Turner Prize is regularly derided for relying on shock value at the expense of traditional forms of art. This year's shortlisted works on display at Tate Britain included a cast of two large dolls engaged in a sex act, a work by brothers Jake and Dinos Chapman.

"It's about time a transvestite potter won the Turner Prize," said Perry, who appeared at the prize ceremony in a lilac dress with puffed sleeves.

"I think the art world had more difficulty coming to terms with me being a potter than my choice of frocks," he joked, before adding: "I only want to thank one person, my wife Philippa. She's been my best editor, sponsor, supporter and mainly my lover. Thank you."

The Turner Prize rewards an artist aged under 50 for an outstanding exhibition of work over a recent 12-month period. To be eligible, the artist must either be working in the United Kingdom or British-born.

Perry is best known for his classically shaped vases which he intricately paints with figures, patterns and text. Subjects include autobiographical images of himself, Claire and his family, as well as examinations of cultural stereotypes.

Some of the more unusual entries in recent years have included a soiled bed, a pickled cow and a painting adorned with elephant dung. Last year's winner, Keith Tyson, presented lead casts of every item on a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant's menu.

Santa Panics, Collapses In Guyana

GEORGETOWN, Guyana - A Caribbean Santa fainted under a blazing sun while distributing candy to a swarm of children on a stage in a remote mining town near the equator.

Santa Claus panicked when more than 100 children stormed the stage Saturday to scoop up the sweets in the bauxite mining town of Linden, 70 miles south of Georgetown, police said.

Wearing a traditional winter Santa suit in this South American country, Santa buckled under the more than 80-degree heat and slumped to the ground.

Onlookers rushed him to a nearby hospital where he was kept under observation for several hours and then released. Police and hospital officials refused to name the Santa, saying the middle-aged man was worried he'd be the laughing stock of the town of 30,000 residents.

Santa was hired by British home furnishing giant Courts PLC, which earlier in the day had used heavy-duty speakers mounted on a truck to invite parents to send their children to collect the candies and other small gifts. It was part of a promotional campaign in the run-up to the Christmas holiday season.

Animal Farm In Cambodia?

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - Five pigs searching for food ran into their owner's house in Cambodia, knocked over a container of gasoline and started a fire that killed the sleeping owner and seriously injured his wife, a newspaper reported Monday.

Phan Sophal, 37, died from burn injuries in hospital after the incident last Thursday in Kampong Speu province, 30 miles southwest of the capital, Phnom Penh, the Koh Santepheap (Island of Peace) newspaper said.

The victim's 32-year-old wife, Ly Rany, was burned and remains hospitalized in critical condition, the report said.

The pigs ran into the kitchen to look for food after the couple forgot to lock them in their pen at the end of the day, the report said. They knocked over a container holding about 5 gallons of gasoline, which splashed onto the stove where Ly Rany was cooking and started "a raging fire," the newspaper said.

Phan Sophal ran from his bed after catching fire and plunged into a nearby pond to extinguish the flames, according to the report.

The couple have three children who were not home at the time of the fire.

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