Arrest made in N-S deal
A widening investigation by South Korean prosecutors into accusations of big payoffs to induce North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-il, to agree nearly three years ago to the first meeting between North and South Korean leaders resulted in the arrest on Saturday of a once-powerful financial official. The official, Lee Keun-young, former chairman of South Korea's Financial Supervisory Commission, became the first official to be jailed in a scandal filled with implications for South Korea's policy of attempted reconciliation with the North. Officials said he was being held in custody.
Howard accepts resignation
Prime Minister John Howard yesterday accepted the resignation of the British queen's envoy over a child sex abuse scandal but, facing fierce criticism, defended the churchman he had named to the nation's top unelected job. Governor-General Peter Hollingworth submitted his resignation on Sunday after admitting that, as an Anglican archbishop in the 1990s, he had let a known pedophile remain a priest. An unproven 40-year-old rape case led him to stand aside two weeks ago. Howard, who hand-picked Hollingworth for the job in 2001, said the envoy was right to resign to protect the integrity of the office but defended Hollingworth, 68, saying attitudes toward handling child abuse had changed.
■ The Philippines
Sea collision kills 25
High seas led navy and coast guard ships to call off a search yesterday for any remaining victims of a collision between a wooden ferry and a steel-hulled passenger ship that killed at least 25 people on Sunday. An initial investigation suggested that the captain of the smaller M.V. San Nicolas, which quickly sank after the collision, steered his vessel into the side of the Superferry 12, a senior official said. Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza said both skippers turned left to try to avoid colliding, suggesting a communication breakdown may have helped cause the accident. Rescuers found 182 survivors before weather conditions forced them to abandon the search. The San Nicolas listed 168 passengers and a crew of 25, but officials said it appeared more people were aboard than were listed on the manifest
Record Everest climb
Nepalese Sherpa Lhakpa Gela, 36, yesterday clipped almost two hours off the Everest speed climbing record that was set just three days ago, reaching the summit from Base Camp in a time of 10 hours 56 minutes, mountaineering sources said here. The tourism ministry said it was still awaiting confirmation of the claim. Lhakpa, making his tenth ascent of the world's highest peak, set out at 5:00pm Sunday on his quest and undertook the entire climb in darkness, the sources said.
Quake rocks capital
A powerful earthquake rocked northeastern Japan yesterday, causing blackouts in several cities and the closure of highways and railways. Buildings swayed in Tokyo, more than 420km away, and the capital's Narita airport was briefly shutdown. There were no immediate reports of injuries. The quake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.0 and was centered 60km below the sea floor off the coast of northeastern Miyagi prefecture, Japan's Meteorological Agency said.
Herd free of disease
There are no new cases of mad cow disease in the herd where Canada's lone infected cow spent its last five months, Canadian officials said on Sunday. Tests were negative for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the cattle slaughtered from a Wanham, Alberta, farm, said Brian Evans, Canada's chief veterinarian. "I am encouraged that these test results strongly indicate that BSE has not spread in this herd," Evans told reporters.