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2009 Darwin Awards

Two Belgian bank robbers have been given the darkly humorous Darwin Award after killing themselves while trying to blast open a cash machine.

The pair used so much dynamite that they destroyed the entire bank building - and themselves with it. The annual award goes to those doing the most to improve the human gene pool by removing themselves from it.

Wendy Northcutt, the founder of the Darwin, declared the hapless pair the 2009 winners in celebration of the most daft and dimwitted ways that people prove themselves unable to keep up with the survival of the fittest.

"This award is generally bestowed posthumously," Miss Northcutt said. "What these two did was very, very stupid."

The robbers had packed large quantities of dynamite around the ATM machine in Dinant, Belgium, as well as pumping gas through the letter box in an attempt to make the explosion even more powerful.

They detonated the explosive successfully but had neglected to retire to a safe distance. The explosion was so large that it blew the bank apart.

This year's runner-up was an American, Shawn Montero, who found himself caught short while a passenger in a car after leaving a bar. The traffic was so slow-moving that he got out of the car and leapt over a low concrete parapet to find somewhere more private to relieve himself. He had failed to realise, however, that the car was in a queue on a bridge and he plunged 65ft to his death.

In third place was Rosanne Tippett, of North Carolina, who rode her moped past a warning barrier into a flooded river. A police officer rescued her but she jumped straight back in again and drowned in a bid to retrieve her moped.

The Darwin Awards were set up in 1985 by Miss Northcutt, an American neuroscientist, as a tongue-in-cheek honour for those who died in a "sublimely idiotic fashion". Nominees must demonstrate astoundingly stupid judgment in causing their own downfall.

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