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A hot air balloon in the shape of Darth Vader's helmet takes off on its maiden flight during a hot air balloon festival in Ceroux, Belgium, Thursday, 17 May 2007, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 'Star Wars' sci-fi saga.
~ CUTTY SARK ~ * Built in 1869 at Dumbarton on the River ClydeDesigned by Hercules Linton
* First voyage February 1870210ft (64m) long
* Main mast stood 152ft (46.3m) above the deck
* Has had 15 million visitors * Preserved as a tribute to merchant navy workers
A fire which swept through the famous 19th Century ship Cutty Sark, may have been started deliberately, police say. The ship, which was undergoing a £25m restoration, is kept in a dry dock at Greenwich in south-east London. An area around the 138-year-old tea clipper had to be evacuated when the fire broke out in the early hours. A Cutty Sark Trust spokesman said much of the ship had been removed for restoration and the damage could have been worse. Half the planking and the masts had been taken away as part of the project.
Chris Livett, chairman of Cutty Sark Enterprises which is repairing the clipper, said at the scene: "From where I stand there is not a huge amount of damage to the planking that was left on. "There are pockets of charred planking and some have gone, but it doesn't look as bad as first envisaged."
The chief executive of the charitable Cutty Sark Trust, Richard Doughty, said: "What is special about Cutty Sark is the timbers, the iron frames that went to the South China Seas, and to think that that is threatened in any way is unbelievable, it's an unimaginable shock." Following an inspection of the site on Monday afternoon, Mr Doughty said: "Buckling of the hull remains a big fear but until we do the measurements we are not going to know.
"With my naked eye, as far as I have been able to see, the structure of the ship seems to be intact." Police are analysing CCTV images which are thought to show people in the area shortly before the fire started.
A number of witnesses have already come forward and the police are urging anyone else who may have been in the area to contact them.
A silver car was seen leaving the scene but police say there is nothing at this stage to link it to the fire. Insp Bruce Middlemiss said detectives were looking into the possibility that the fire had been started deliberately.
However, a spokesman for London Fire Brigade said it was "pure speculation" to say the cause of the fire was suspicious. Firefighters were called to the scene at 0445 BST and the flames were put out by 0700 BST.
Greenwich Council leader Cllr Chris Roberts said: "This is a devastating blow for what is a truly iconic symbol of Greenwich across the world."The Cutty Sark has a unique and special history, which helps to draw millions of visitors to Greenwich every year."
The ship was undergoing conservation work because sea salt had accelerated the corrosion of her iron framework.Dr Eric Kentley, curatorial consultant to the Cutty Sark Trust, said of the ship: "It can be saved. It's certainly not completely devastated. "We will put her back together - but it's going to take much, much longer and a lot more money than we originally thought."
The Cutty Sark Trust is appealing for funds to help repair the fire damage and complete the restoration. ~ The Cutty Sark left London on her maiden voyage on 16 February 1870, sailing around The Cape of Good Hope to Shanghai in three and a half months. ~ She made eight journeys to China as part of the tea trade until steam ships replaced sail on the high seas. ~ The ship was later used for training naval cadets during WWII, and in 1951 was moored in London for the Festival of Britain. ~ Shortly afterwards, she was acquired by the Cutty Sark Society.
Drinking coffee can help ward off type 2 diabetes and may even help prevent certain cancers, according to panelists discussing the benefits -- and risks -- of the beverage at a scientific meeting.
"We're coming from a situation where coffee had a very negative health image," Dr. Rob van Dam of the Harvard School of Public Health, who has conducted studies on coffee consumption and diabetes, told Reuters Health. Nevertheless, he added, "it's not like we're promoting coffee as the new health food and asking people who don't like coffee to drink coffee for their health."
Van Dam participated in a "controversy session" on coffee at the Experimental Biology 2007 meeting underway in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Lenore Arab of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA also took part, presenting results of a review of nearly 400 studies investigating coffee consumption and cancer risk.
There's evidence, Arab noted, that the beverage may protect against certain types of colon cancer, as well as rectal and liver cancer, possibly by reducing the amount of cholesterol, bile acid and natural sterol secretion in the colon, speeding up the passage of stool through the colon (and thus cutting exposure of the lining of the intestine to potential carcinogens in food), and via other mechanisms as well.
However, Arab did find evidence that coffee may increase the risk of leukemia and stomach cancer, with the case for leukemia being strongest.
The findings suggest that people who may be vulnerable to these risks -- for example pregnant women and children -- should limit coffee consumption, van Dam noted in an interview.
He and his colleagues are now conducting a clinical trial to get a clearer picture of the diabetes-preventing effects of coffee, which were first reported in 2002. Since then, he noted, there have been more than 20 studies on the topic.
Van Dam and his team are also looking for which of the "hundreds to thousands" of components of coffee might be responsible for these effects. It's probably not caffeine, he noted, given that decaf and caffeinated coffee have similar effects on reducing diabetes risk.
His top candidate, van Dam says, is chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant that slows the absorption of glucose in the intestines.