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US Biologists Declares “Unusual Mortality Event” in Deaths of Nearly 300 Ice Seals Off Alaska’s Northwest Coast

The cause of the deaths is not known

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FILE - A dead seal is found on a beach near Kotzebue, Alaska, in this May 24, 2019, photo provided by the National Park Service. VOA

U.S. marine mammal biologists have declared an “unusual mortality event” in the deaths of nearly 300 ice seals off Alaska’s northwest coast. US

The cause of the deaths is not known.

The fisheries arm of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the declaration covers ringed, bearded and spotted seals. All three types of seals use sea ice in varying ways.

NOAA Fisheries has received reports of 282 dead seals in the Bering and Chukchi seas since June 1, 2018.

US, Biologists, Mortality
U.S. marine mammal biologists have declared an “unusual mortality event” in the deaths of nearly 300 ice seals off Alaska’s northwest coast. Pixabay

That’s nearly five times the average number of reported seal strandings.

The deaths have mostly occurred from June to September in both years.

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Declaration of an unusual mortality event allows the agency to use more resources to investigate the deaths. (VOA)

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Uber Receives 3,045 Cases of Sexual Assault in U.S. in Year 2018

"We are partnering with RAINN, the nation's largest sexual violence organisation, to design and implement this programme," Uber added

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Photo shows an exterior view of the headquarters of Uber in San Francisco. (VOA)

Ride-hailing giant Uber has released its first safety review which contains thousands of sexual assault reports. The company has also revealed the changes it was making to make rides safer for its passengers and drivers.

The two-year safety review contains almost 2,936 reports pertaining to sexual assault that Uber received in 2017 and 3,045 it received in 2018.

Notably, the cab aggregator categorises sexual assaults into five subcategories, which are non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part, non-consenual touching of a sexual body part, attempted non-consensual sexual penetration, non-consensual kissing of a sexual body part and non-consensual sexual penetration.

In the last sub category, which is rape, the cab hailing major received 229 reports of rape in 2017 and 235 reports of rape in 2018. Throughout 2017 and 2018, the reported incidents occurred on 0.00002% of trips, according to the company.

“Confronting sexual violence requires honesty, and it’s only by shining a light on these issues that we can begin to provide clarity on something that touches every corner of society,” Tony West, Uber’s Chief Legal Officer, said in the review.

“And, most importantly, by bringing hard data to bear, we can make every trip safer for drivers and riders alike.”

Uber
Uber app. Pixabay

The ride hailing major long been under fire for its safety practices.

In its response to making rides safer for its passengers, Uber mentioned developments like its “in-app safety button”.

“We’re rolling out new features that allow riders to verify their driver with a secure PIN code, send a text message directly to 911 operators, and report safety incidents to Uber even before their trip is over,” the company said.

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In 2020, the cab aggregator will expand sexual misconduct and assault education to all the US drivers.

“We are partnering with RAINN, the nation’s largest sexual violence organisation, to design and implement this programme,” Uber added. (IANS)