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Thursday's papers: Russians encouraged to give birth in Finland, fugitive posts videos, Sahara sand colours sunsets

South Karelia Central Hospital needs foreign customers, a suspected stabber posted alleged threats and a sandy phenomenon streaks the skies.

Aurinko hehkuu punertavana Espoossa.
This photo from 2017 demonstrates how atmospheric particles can darken and redden the sun. A similar phenomenon is occurring again. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

The South Karelia Central Hospital will begin offering on-demand childbirth and delivery services to foreign customers. Daily Helsingin Sanomat wrote on Thursday that the hospital, located near Finland's eastern border, will target their services to Russian women especially.

The paper wrote that the number of deliveries at the Lappeenranta-based facility has fallen to less than the government-mandated one thousand cases, with some 800 births expected in 2019. The Central Hospital itself is not under immediate pressure of closure, however, as the government may issue an exemption to its minimum demand. But numerous domestic maternity hospitals have been shuttered in recent years.

"The biggest motive for offering maternity services to non-Finnish customers is for the hospital to continue its work, and at best the municipality may make financial gains," said South Karelia Social and Health Care District (Eksote) health service chief Tuula Karhula in HS.

Senior physician Antti Valpas said in the paper that the first mothers-to-be from abroad could start receiving care this spring. Previously the earliest start to the service was scheduled for summertime.

"The contracts are all ready for the service to begin," he said.

The starting cost of the full Eksote childbirth programme is around 7,500 euros, according to HS. The first consultation costs 1,000 euros, with one-hour clinic appointments available at 94 euros each and doctor's appointments at 194 euros each.

Alleged stabber posts videos on the run

Tabloid Ilta-Sanomat on Thursday reported that Iraqi national Hayder Abduljabbar Al-Hmedawi, suspected of stabbing his ex-spouse and others in March, recently published videos on YouTube allegedly threatening his former wife.

In the videos Al-Hmedawi addresses his ex-wife directly, saying he misses his children but also seeming to threaten their mother's life.

"It's always serious to suspect unlawful threats, but in this case it is justified," said police inspector and head of the investigation, Pekka Hätönen in IS. "There is no direct promise to harm in one of them, but the setting of the video points in that direction."

Hätönen said other videos included more direct threatening messages.

Al-Hmedawi's younger brother is also suspected of abetting in his acts of violence, and a further person is suspected to have helped Al-Hmedawi escape. Hätönen said it is unclear whether Al-Hmedawi could be extradited to Finland from Iraq, and no attempts so far have been made.

The 33-year-old Al-Hmedawi is on Europol's most wanted list and is also sought by Finnish police for attempted murder, IS wrote. He is suspected of stabbing his former wife and her friend as well as injuring three children he has with the ex-wife. The incident on 3 March took place in a child protection unit of a private social services company in the Haaga district of Helsinki.

Saharan sand dyes atmosphere

The amount of light in Finnish skies increases with each passing day of spring, but some sky-watchers may have noticed especially spectacular sunsets in recent days. These glowing phenomena have their origins in Africa's Sahara desert.

HS wrote on Thursday that fine sand from the world's largest desert made its way into the atmosphere and into European skies after a suspected sandstorm kicked up the African dust.

The particles in the atmosphere may cause the setting sun to glow a fiery orange-red, as many HS readers' photographs demonstrate.

Meteorologist Petri Hoppula said that winds can carry Saharan sand all the way to Greenland and Iceland. The sand is not hazardous in the present amounts.

"Phenomena such as this may last for a long time," Hoppula said. "But respirators are not required."

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