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OFFBEAT

Texan tycoon answers prayers of French church

A Texas oilman donated 100,000 dollars to fix the roof of a 13th-century church in the southwestern French town of Aurignac, which they visited last year to attend a wedding.

Texan tycoon answers prayers of French church
A picture taken on March 26, 2013 shows the Aurignac Church, in Aurignac, southern France. Photo: Eric Cabanis/AFP

The Houston-based couple requested complete anonymity. Mayor Jean-Michel Losego said the medieval town of some 1,400 souls is rich in history but low on cash, describing the donation as "really lucky".

Renee Ragnes, a friend of the couple, said they had fallen under the spell of the town when they came to Aurignac for her daughter's nuptials.

They noticed that the roof of the church leaked, she said, adding that she was stunned to find a cheque for 77,000 euros (100,000 dollars) accompanied a Christmas card they had sent her, specifying that it was meant for repairing the roof.

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CHRISTMAS

Congregation suffers carbon monoxide poisoning at French Christmas mass

Twenty-one people were hospitalised in northern France, two in a serious condition, after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning during Christmas mass, emergency services said Wednesday.

Congregation suffers carbon monoxide poisoning at French Christmas mass
Photo: PHILIPPE HUGUEN / AFP

Emergency personnel were sent to the church in the Oise department after several people complained of headaches during the religious ceremony on Christmas eve.

The church was evacuated to a nearby community hall where 72 people were treated.

Of those, 19 were brought to nearby hospitals and two, with more severe symptoms, to specialist centres where one was placed in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber.

Local emergency official Nicolas Mougin said carbon monoxide levels up to 350 parts per million (ppm) were measured inside the church.

The cause of the poisoning has not been determined but investigators were looking into a gas heater.

The local mayor has ordered the church closed.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odourless, invisible gas produced when burning fuels such as coal, wood, charcoal, oil, kerosene, propane or natural gas.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission's website states that exposure to sustained CO concentrations above 150 to 200 ppm can lead to disorientation, unconsciousness and even death.

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