OSLO, Norway

Five skiers die, one saved after avalanche buries them

Five people were killed and one person was dug out alive after Swiss and French skiers were buried by an avalanche Monday on Norway’s Arctic fringe.

Rescuers located the victims through beacons from their radio transceivers, but only the first person they found survived, a Swiss man who was taken to a local hospital in stable condition.

A 3,000-foot wall of snow came crashing down on the skiers on Sorbmegaisa mountain, 40 miles east of the northern city of Tromsoe, police spokesman Morten Pettersen said. The last victim was found under 20 feet of snow.

Four Swiss and one French skier died in the avalanche, which started at a height of 3,600 feet and was 2,000 feet long.

The victims were part of 12 people out skiing when the avalanche struck about 2:30 p.m. One of the six who escaped called to alert authorities.


Oprah’s TV network lets go one-fifth of its work force

Oprah Winfrey’s struggling television network, OWN, said Monday it is laying off one-fifth of its workers and restructuring its operations in New York and Los Angeles.

The decision to let 30 employees go is a “tough” one, but the economics of a start-up cable network didn’t fit with OWN’s cost structure, Winfrey said in a statement.

The cable channel, which launched Jan. 1, 2011, endured a freshman year of executive turnover and missteps that proved OWN lacked a solid foundation on which to build. This was despite a Discovery Communications investment of a reported $250 million and counting.

Discovery executives will take a more active role in the channel, according to the announcement.


Fire on Mount Kenya sends big game animals fleeing

A fire on the slopes of Kenya’s tallest mountain is sending big game animals like elephants fleeing, as wildlife agents and British troops are fighting to put out several fires, officials said Monday.

The flames have already consumed hundreds of acres of forest on Mount Kenya, said Paul Udoto, a spokesman for the Kenya Wildlife Service. The fire has covered the spiky mountain in a haze of smoke.

Tourists staying in mountain lodges are safe, Udoto said.

“The elephants fled the area but they are still within the protected areas of the mountain,” Udoto said.

Firefighters said they haven’t come across any animal hurt or killed by the fire.

“There’s fires all over the place,” said Iain Douglas-Hamilton, the founder of the group Save the Elephants. “It’s because of the dryness. But I bet people are setting the fires … accidental but human-generated.”

Fires are also burning in the nearby Aberdare National Park. Douglas-Hamilton said the fires will deprive animals of food and that he expects some to get caught in the flames.


Transit workers plead guilty to stealing coins

Perhaps it was the multiple bags of $500 in coins used to buy lottery tickets that tipped off authorities.

Two former Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority employees pleaded guilty Monday to stealing at least $445,000 from subway fare machines in Virginia, Maryland and Washington.

John Vincent Haile, 52, a former transit officer from Virginia, and Horace Dexter McDade, 58, a Maryland resident who worked as a revenue collection technician for the transit agency, pleaded guilty in federal court in Alexandria, Va., to theft concerning programs receiving federal funds and conspiring to commit money laundering, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

They face a maximum penalty of 10 years on the theft charges and 20 years on the conspiracy charges when they are sentenced June 15.

They were arrested in January after authorities received a tip that a man driving a Jaguar and wearing a police uniform was buying lottery tickets with bags of change – $28,000 worth of tickets in a three-month period, according to court records.