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Thursday's papers: Zimbabwe crash investigation, social media trust and Santa Claus Republic

Zimbabwean officials' reluctance to share details about a deadly plane crash, eroding trust in social media, and an amusement park is in the works in Lapland.

joulupukki tallustaa talvimaisemassa
Image: AOP

Finnish accident investigators have turned to South Africans to help investigate a plane crash that killed four Finnish businessmen in Zimbabwe last month, writes regional daily Aamulehti.

Finland's Safety Investigation Authority (Otkes) said Zimbabwean authorities have been reluctant to share material concerning the fatal accident in the mountainous Masvingo province. "We as well as our American colleagues have tried to get information from Zimbabwe – to no avail. That’s why we have now asked the South Africans to help us,” said Otkes director Veli-Pekka Nurmi.

American officials are involved in the investigation as the ill-fated Cessna S206 air plane was manufactured in the United States. Information-sharing on international aircraft accidents tends to be easy, according to Nurmi, but in this case that has not happened.

"To our knowledge, local authorities are still investigating the crash."

The light aircraft was en route to Victoria Falls when it crashed at Chamanjenjere Hills, killing all four passengers and the pilot, who was accompanying the group on a hunting trip. The victims included top executives from Finnish stock-listed companies.

Trust in social media

In other news, daily Helsingin Sanomat writes that Finns' trust in social media platforms has collapsed. In a survey by the Finnish Newspapers Association, 1,000 respondents were asked to judge the quality of digital media on a scale from one to 10.

According to HS, Facebook received a grade 4.1 and Google 5.5, significantly lower than last year when the association conducted a similar survey. However, trust in WhatsApp, Youtube and Instagram has eroded the most, with a majority of respondents considering the quality of these media "weak".

The association says wrongdoing by social media giants and the proliferation of fake news are to blame for the decline. "Undoubtedly the news about American web service companies collecting and abusing user data has had a negative effect on the image of social media as a whole," says Sirpa Kirjonen from the association.

In contrast, the public’s trust in digital newspapers (with the exception of tabloids) grew somewhat while trust in Finland’s public broadcaster Yle remained unchanged from last year, HS reports.

Las Vegas for kids

A children's Santa-themed amusement park is being planned by a group of international investors, writes tabloid Iltalehti.

According to IL, a company called Republic of Santa Claus Dream Work wants to design a 10,000-hectare amusement park north of Rovaniemi, which would include a huge dome and a gingerbread house with several restaurants and cafés.

The dome would house a Snow Ball City with 300 small houses, a tropical spa and children’s casino. "There are millions of tourists dreaming of a place like this," says Ari Siitari, who’s heading the project to build what he calls the "Las Vegas for kids".

In March, a major investor from China will visit the site on the Arctic Circle, and negotiations with Lapland’s regional authorities have already begun, IL writes.

Edit: Updated at 10.50 am on 20 December to indicate that the proposed size of the Santa Claus Dream Work theme park is 10,000 hectares.

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