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World’s oldest message in a bottle found on coast of western Australia

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More than 131 years after being thrown overboard, the world’s oldest message in a bottle has washed up on a beach in western Australia.

The bottle was found by Tonya Illman and Grace Ricciardo in the dunes near Wedge Island in January.

Weeks of research and correspondence crafted a Sherlock-style web of clues that traced the historic note back to 19th century Germany.

The survival of the document has been heralded as a miracle, as the bottle was found wedged in the sand and without a lid after heavy rain and strong winds on the island, some 112 miles north of Perth.

Mrs Illman and her husband Kym placed the note in an oven to dry it out before unravelling it to reveal a set of coordinates and a date of 12 June 1886.

Tonya Illman was walking on the beach with a friend when they found the bottle. Pic: kymillman.com
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Tonya Illman was walking on the beach with a friend when they found the bottle. Pic: kymillman.com

Mr Illman’s German was not quite good enough to deduce much more of the text, other than the letters “aula” in a naming field, which he guessed might mean the ship was called Paula.

From there the real investigative work began, and three days later the couple received confirmation from a curator of maritime archaeology at the Western Australian Museum that a boat named Paula was listed in an 1883 Lloyds Register, with a home port of Marseille.

It was a 320-ton German barque ship, later found to be on a voyage from Cardiff to what is now known as Indonesia.

But the French port listed in the register appeared to contradict the port written on the note, which started with an “E”.

A photograph of the Paula (right front) docked in Germany, circa 1880. Pic: German Weather Service / kymillman.com
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A photograph of the Paula (right front) docked in Germany, circa 1880. Pic: German Weather Service / kymillman.com

It was suggested that the vessel could have been sold to new owners after 1883 and moved to a new home, and that theory was given merit by German maritime historian Christine Porr.

She advised the Illmans that one of her contacts had found mentions of Paula, along with a captain “O Diekmann”, in an 1887 journal of German Marine Meteorology.

Another reference to Paula was found in an 1886 Registrar Veritas, which listed “Haverkamp” as captain, and confirmed the home port as Elsfleth in Germany.

Further evidence was provided by the German Maritime and Hydrographic Agency, who confirmed the wording and printing were identical to messages held in their archives for the year 1886.

This map shows the points at which bottles were thrown from Paula in a bid to create a drift map. Pic: kymillman.com
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This map shows the points at which bottles were thrown from Paula in a bid to create a drift map. Pic: kymillman.com

With the Australian museum having determined that the note was “consistent with cheaply made 19th century paper”, the German agency concluded that it was genuine.

As luck would have it, the note turned out to have originated from the agency itself, which back in 1886 was known as Deutsche Seewarte.

The bottle – thought to have originally held gin – was thrown overboard alongside many others during a decades-long research programme to produce drift maps.

According to agency archives, the last one to have been found was picked up in Denmark in January 1934 – and it was a match for the format of the one found on the Australian coast.

“This has been the most remarkable event of my life,” said Mrs Illman.

“To think that this bottle has not been touched for nearly 132 years and is in perfect condition, despite the elements, beggars belief.”

L/R: Tonya Illman, Western Australian Museum's Ross Anderson, and Kym Illman. Pic: kymillman.com
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L/R: Tonya Illman, Western Australian Museum’s Ross Anderson, and Kym Illman. Pic: kymillman.com

Her husband added: “It certainly consumed me for the first week.

“It was like solving a giant puzzle – and now that it’s been confirmed as legitimate, I can’t wait to share our excitement with others.”

Once confirmed by Guinness World Records, it will beat the existing record for the world’s oldest message in bottle by 23 years.

That was found at Amrum Island, Germany, in April 2015, more than 108 years after it was released into the North Sea by the Marine Biological Association in November 1906.

A one shilling reward was offered for its return.

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EE brings back EU roaming charges for mobile phone customers from next year | Business News

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Mobile network EE is to charge customers for using their phone in Europe from next year.

The company, owned by BT, had previously said it had no plans to reintroduce the charges after Brexit.

It will affect new customers and those upgrading from 7 July.

An EE phone store on Oxford Street, central London. 29/5/2018
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EE said it change would support investment in its UK network

They will face a £2 daily fee from January next year to be able to use their data, call minutes and text allowances in 47 European destinations.

The change will not apply to customers travelling to the Republic of Ireland.

British travellers have not had to pay roaming charges on their mobile phone bills since June 2017, when they were abolished after changes to European regulation.

Before then they added an estimated £350m a year to users’ bills.

Britain’s departure from the European Union meant that from January UK customers no longer had the right to use their phone in Europe without roaming charges.

However, Britain’s major mobile operators had said they had no plans to introduce them.

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December 2020: What’s in the Brexit trade deal?

EE said its decision was designed to “support investment into our UK-based customer service and leading UK network”.

It said customers travelling abroad for longer will be able to use a 30-day Roam Abroad Pass.

Ernest Doku, a mobiles expert at Uswitch.com, said: “It’s hugely disappointing for consumers to see that situation change so quickly.

“If you’re an existing EE customer, these charges won’t affect you yet, but make sure you check the small print if you’re due an upgrade in the coming months.”

Sky News contacted other networks to ask if they had any similar plans.

O2 and Three said they had not made any changes to roaming.

However, both are altering their policies on “fair usage” daily data limits while in the EU – though in each case said the limits were more than enough for the vast majority of holidaymakers’ needs.

Vodafone also said it had no plans to bring back roaming charges.

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HMS Defender: Boris Johnson insists warship was sailing legally as Moscow warns ‘no options can be ruled out’ | UK News

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Boris Johnson has insisted Royal Navy warship HMS Defender was sailing legally in Ukrainian waters and that Russia did not any fire warning shots.

Russia has accused the UK of “barefaced lies” over Wednesday’s incident and said it would respond robustly to any future incursions into what it says are Russian waters.

It summoned the British ambassador in Moscow for a dressing down, while a Kremlin spokesman called it a “deliberate and premeditated provocation”.

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Russia claims this is HMS Defender ‘chased out’

“In the event of a repeat of unacceptable provocative action – if those actions go too far, no options can be ruled out in terms of legally defending Russia’s borders,” added Dmitry Peskov.

The UK rejects Russia’s claim that a border patrol boat fired warning shots and that warplanes dropped bombs into path of the ship off the Crimean coast.

Speaking on Thursday, Boris Johnson said it was “not my information” when asked if the Russians had fired warning shots.

“My understanding is that the Carrier Strike Group proceeded in a way you would expect through international waters and in accordance with the law,” said the prime minister.

He added: “We don’t recognise the Russian annexation of Crimea – it was illegal. These are Ukrainian waters and it was entirely right to use them to get from A to B.”

HMS Defender
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HMS Defender’s main wartime function is to destroy enemy planes and drones

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has also said shots were not fired and called the Russian account “predictably inaccurate”.

The Ministry of Defence said it had been made aware in advance that the Russians were conducting “gunnery exercises” in the area.

“No shots were directed at HMS Defender and we do not recognise the claim that bombs were dropped in her path,” it said.

Sukhoi Su-24M bombers pictured over Moscow in May 2019
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Russia said Su-24M jets – pictured in May 2019 – dropped bombs in the ship’s path

However, a BBC journalist on board the 152 metre-long ship said Russian planes had flown nearby and he also heard radio warnings that shots would be fired if HMS Defender didn’t change course .

He said firing was later heard but “well out of range”.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused Britain of “barefaced lies” over the incident.

Russia claims the British ship had gone as far as three kilometres (2 miles) into Russian waters near Cape Fiolent, near the port of Sevastopol in Crimea.

Crimea was seized from Ukraine in 2014 by the Russians, who claim ownership of waters around its coast.

A map showing the route of HMS Defender
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The route of HMS Defender

Western countries regard Crimea to have been taken illegally.

Mr Johnson also rejected the assertion that the relationship with Russia was now at a new low, following other recent incidents such as the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal in the UK in 2018.

“I can remember times in my own lifetime when things have been far worse,” the prime minister said.

Sky’s Moscow correspondent Diana Magnay said the incident was to a large extent about “testing each other’s mettle” and seeing “how far Russia is prepared to go to defend what it claims are its territorial waters – and how far the UK and NATO are prepared to go to defend Ukrainian sovereignty”.

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‘Several injured and one dead’ after building partially collapses in Miami Beach | World News

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A huge emergency operation is under way after a partial building collapse in Miami Beach, with reports of at least one person killed and several injured.

More than 80 fire and rescue units were at the scene of the collapse in the Florida city, with images showing a pile of rubble with debris spilling down from what was left of the balconies of the building.

CBS reported that at least one person had died, while ABC News said eight people were being treated for injuries in hospital.

Sergeant Marian Cruz of the Surfside Police Department said: “We’re on the scene so it’s still very active.

“What I can tell you is the building is 12 floors. The entire back side of the building has collapsed.”

Police have cordoned off nearby roads, with scores of fire and rescue vehicles, ambulances and police cars deployed in the area.

NBC said the rescue teams included a unit that is trained in the removal of victims trapped in complex or confined spaces.

NBC Miami showed a video of a young boy being pulled alive from the rubble.



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