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Significant Digits For Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.


9 years of seclusion

Bartenders hear a lot of secrets while pouring drinks, but Chris Westerbeek heard an especially unusual one when a “scruffy young man” downed five beers and revealed it was his first time outside in nine years. The 25-year-old was one of six family members who had been locked inside a secret room in a farmhouse near the village of Ruinerwold, in the northern Netherlands. Prosecutors said the 58-year-old man who paid the rent on the property will appear in court on Thursday on charges of unlawful detention and harming others’ health. [Reuters/The Mercury News]


3,271 pounds of hydrofluoric acid

Earlier this year a refinery blew up in Philadelphia, releasing dangerous chemicals into the atmosphere. A new report details just how dangerous those chemicals were. An estimated 3,271 pounds of hydrofluoric acid were released, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is so poisonous that ingesting a small amount of it, or getting small splashes of it on your skin, can be fatal. The explosions were so powerful they launched a piece of debris similar in weight to a Greyhound bus several hundred feet away. [WHYY]


51 deaths

The National Safety Council says 51 American children have died so far this year from heatstroke after being left or getting trapped in cars. While most of these deaths happen during the much warmer summer months, they can still happen at other times of year, such as the 1-year-old who died on Monday in Florida after she was left inside a hot Jeep for several hours. Last year, the National Safety Council said 53 children died of heatstroke, a record number, with the last death happening in September. [KXLH]


Nearly 1 in 5 names

Ohio had planned to purge 235,000 voters from its rolls last month. Only problem: almost 20 percent of them weren’t supposed to be on the list. Jen Miller, the director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, discovered her own name was erroneously on the spreadsheet as “inactive” despite voting three times last year. Advocacy groups discovered around about 40,000 other names should not have been on the list through crowd-sourced efforts. [New York Times]


500 miles

Concerns about hot summer temperatures have led the International Olympic Committee to detail a new plan to stage the marathon and race walking events in the city of Sapporo, the site of the 1972 Winter Olympics, but 500 miles away from the other events in Tokyo next summer. The IOC cited “significantly lower temperatures for the athletes” for the proposal, but at least one athlete has expressed dismay at the lack of consultation. “I’m assuming this means you’ll be paying for my family and friends flights and accommodations who have already booked for Tokyo?” past 50K bronze-medalist Evan Dunfee wrote on Twitter. [Associated Press/USA Today]


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