Deadly toxin found in Las Vegas motel room

Here’s a weird, scary motel hazard story. It goes way, way, way beyond contaminated water glasses. How about the presence of a toxin that is so powerful even a speck can kill you? That’s what was found in an Extended Stay America motel room in Las Vegas yesterday, two weeks after a man who was staying in the room was rushed to the hospital in respiratory distress.

Vials of the toxin ricin, made from castor beans, were found in the man’s room by a friend who went to pick up his stuff. The room had not been rented out since the man left. Once it was discovered what the substance was, the hotel was cordoned off and guests had to stay in their rooms until there was an all clear. Other people–the manager, police officers and the person who brought the vials of ricin to the manager’s office were treated for contamination, but all of them are fine and the motel has been cleaned.

Not much is known about the man, the friend or how the ricin came to be in the room. There were castor beans as well, and it’s illegal to make ricin. This is the stuff of spy thrillers and assassination–back in the 1970s in London, a Bulgarian dissident was assassinated when someone injected a ricin pellet in his leg with an umbrella.

This story sounds like one that could get more and more curious. It’s a page turner with the last pages missing. Hopefully, the man will be able to answer questions one day. And if you’re wondering, officials don’t think this is a terrorist plot. [via AP]

Baby drops through toilet hole of train and lives

Here’s a story that tops the version of the parent who unwittingly sets a baby strapped in a car seat carrier on top of the car and drives off. That can add a bit of a nightmare to any vacation. It also beats my story of how I dropped my car keys into a toilet –or any of the stories I’ve heard of people accidentally dropping items down a latrine. These are popular Peace Corps tales. It also tops my version of having a baby in New Delhi, India by a long shot–a very long shot, and I took a train ride to Pushcar Pushkar when I was eight months pregnant.

This past Tuesday, a woman headed off the the toilet on a train in India and gave birth without planning to at that particular moment. Unfortunately, she passed out during the activity. When she came to, the baby had fallen through the open hole of the toilet onto the tracks. That was a big problem, made bigger because the train was moving. Her relatives pulled the emergency brake to stop the train.

The baby, eight to ten weeks premature, was later found in the middle of the tracks less than two hours later. She was alive and taken to a hospital. The prognosis isn’t great, according to the doctor, but medical care in India can be excellent, so hopefully the baby will pull though.

This story will probably forever top the stories of “the most exciting thing that happened to you when you were on a trip,” regardless of who you are: the mother, the relatives, the train workers, the other passengers or the baby. My son already surprises people when he tells them he was born in India. I’m glad our version of his birth is more mundane than this one. This baby’s story is really a miracle with a capital M. [via msnbc]

What strange things have been found on planes?

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