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In brief | State Nov. 12, 2013

Japanese tourist drowns in waters off Kahala

HONOLULU — Honolulu fire officials say a 52-year-old Japanese tourist has been found dead in shallow waters off Kahala Beach.

Honolulu Fire Capt. Tyler Chan said the woman found early Monday appears to have drowned, but investigators are still trying to determine exactly what happened.

Chan says a friend of the woman called emergency officials about 4:30 a.m. Monday, saying the woman had gone for a swim overnight but didn’t return.

Chan says the woman was found about two hours later in shallow waters about 150 to 200 yards offshore.

Chan says a rescue swimmer recovered the woman, who showed no signs of life.

Committee investigates Kauai bingabing trees

LIHUE, Kauai — A plant with umbrella-size leaves and a bad habit of choking out native species has taken up residence on Kauai.

The Kauai Invasive Species Committee is trying to find out how widespread bingabing trees have become after investigating more than a dozen plants near the mouth of the Hanalei River, The Garden Island reported.

Macaranga mappa is established on the Big Island and Oahu in wet, low-elevation areas, according the Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk website. The trees were seeded around Hilo from aircraft after a large fire.

Some of the trees on Kauai already are mature, said Keren Gundersen, the committee project manager.

“We can see that it’s spreading,” Gundersen said. “So it has been there for awhile.”

Bingabing is native to the Philippines. Besides huge leaves, the trees have small pink or red flowers at their tops. A related species, Macaranga tanarius, is established on Kauai and has smaller leaves and green flowers.

Gunderson guesses that the ornamental tree was brought to Kauai intentionally.

In 1927, 81 trees were planted in the Lihue-Koloa Forest Reserve. The status of forestry planting is uncertain, according to Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk.

“It’s new for us, but the plant is actually somewhat widespread in the Hilo area,” Gundersen said. “Which is why we’re trying to get a handle on it really quickly.”

The invasive species committee will conduct a survey to determine the abundance of Bingabing. Crews will work with property owners to remove trees.

“If we find out this is already widespread, it may not be a target for us,” Gundersen said.

Developer gets $120M loan for Kakaako high rise

HONOLULU — A developer planning a high-rise project near downtown Honolulu says it has secured a $120 million construction loan and plans to start building this month.

Developer Oliver McMillan said Monday it secured the loan for its 3.5-acre Symphony Honolulu project from lenders including First Hawaiian Bank. Three other lenders are also involved.

The project is in Kakaako, east of downtown Honolulu. Plans call for a tall, glass skyscraper with 288 market-priced condominiums and 100 lower-priced units for buyers who meet certain conditions set by the Hawaii Community Development Authority.

Officials say the project will generate about 400 construction jobs for the next two years and about 100 permanent jobs.

The project is expected to be completed in 2015.

By wire sources