Tokyo shook by rare quake
An earthquake, measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale, shook Tokyo and surrounding areas early yesterday, the Meteorological Agency said. Three people in Tokyo, directly and indirectly, were slightly injured as a result of the quake, which happened at 0:57am. Neither the Meteorological Agency nor the Tokyo Fire Department could say immediately when was the last time that people in the capital sustained earthquake-related injuries, but they are extremely rare.
Cleaner rags required
A restaurant in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, has been ordered to shut down after being caught using old underpants as dish cloths, the South China Morning Post reported yesterday. Health inspectors swooped on the restaurant after getting a tip-off about the old underpants being used in the kitchens. The inspectors ordered the restaurant to shut down temporarily while an investigation into its hygiene standards is conducted.
■ Solomon Islands
Banks close doors
Banks in the Solomon Islands were closed yesterday after staff evacuated the country following death threats from the operators of a pyramid moneymaking scheme, one bank said. "Clearly we can't operate where there are threats to blow up the branch or kill our management there," said Paul Edwards, a spokesman for Australia's ANZ Bank. The ANZ closure would last "at least two weeks because ... we have evacuated our senior management," after the threats from the "Family Charity Fund." The state-owned Solomon Islands radio reported that the fund has taken 250 Solomon Island dollars (US$35) from an unknown number of investors on the promise of a payback of more than SI$1 million (US$135,700) within a month. Nobody has been paid by the scheme, which has been operating for more than a year.
Military test-fires missile
For the third time in four days, India yesterday test-fired a new air-to-air missile with a range of up to 40km, a Defense Ministry spokesman said. "These are development trials," and part of Indian scientists' research in perfecting the weapons, spokesman P.K. Bandhopadhyaya said. The Astra missile was fired from a test range at Chandipur in the eastern coast state of Orissa, 1,200km southeast of New Delhi. The tests come at a time when India and nuclear rival Pakistan are moving toward resumption of dialogue after a two-year standoff over their Kashmir dispute.
Luxury car traps minister
Thai Finance Minister Suchart Jaovisidha was trapped inside his luxury car for about 10 minutes yesterday because of a computer malfunction and had to signal someone to smash a window for him to crawl out. Suchart was on his way to give a speech to central bank officials from 17 countries when his ministry-assigned BMW car stalled on a road not far from his house. The engine stopped, the air condi-tioning shut down, the doors locked and the windows wouldn't roll down, he said. Suchart and his driver waved at passers-by to draw attention to their plight, but it took a while to make them understand that they needed help. Finally, a guard of a nearby building came to their rescue with a sledgehammer and broke a window.
Voters say Yes to EU
More than 90 percent of voters in the Baltic state of Lithuania said Yes to joining the EU in a weekend referendum, opting to join the Western bloc just 13 years after breaking away from the Soviet Union. Official results issued early yesterday after votes at 97.35 percent of all the 2,040 voting stations were counted showed that 90.97 percent of voters said Yes and 9.03 percent No to EU membership. President Rolandas Paksas said, "Hello Europeans!" as he emerged from his office to host a concert in anticipation of victory. "I want to thank you all for passing a maturity exam," he said.