A Spanish man and an Argentine woman have gone missing and are feared dead in northern Pakistan in a joint expedition to scale a Himalayan peak more than 8,000m high, a Pakistani official said Monday. They were part of a team trying to conquer the Gasherbrum I peak near Skardu, about 500km north of Islamabad, said Mohammed Hussein, deputy home secretary in Gilgit, a town in the region. He said there had been blizzards in the area since the two went missing over the weekend and that they were between 7,000m and 8,000m. The missing mountaineers were identified as Jose Manuel Buenaga Villanueva and Nancy Noemi Silvestrini.
Airline admits flight mistake
Qantas Airways admitted yesterday that its staff had failed to notice a woman who mistakenly took a plane from Los Angeles to Melbourne using a boarding pass for another airline's flight to Hong Kong. The error wasn't detected until shortly before the absent-minded passenger landed in Melbourne on Sunday, airline officials said, blaming a faulty computerized boarding system in Los Angeles airport. A Qantas spokeswoman said the passenger was holding a boarding pass for a Cathay Pacific flight from Los Angeles to Hong Kong when she mistakenly boarded an earlier Qantas flight leaving from the same gate for Melbourne.
`Witch' beaten to death
A 60-year-old woman was allegedly beaten to death by relatives and neighbors who accused her of being a witch in a tribal-dominated state in eastern India, police said Monday. Malo Devi was killed Saturday night in Devagandha village after relatives accused her of practicing black magic, her son said in a complaint filed with the police. She was the third alleged witch to be killed in a week in Jharkhand state, a police officer said on condition of anonymity. Police suspect land-related disputes were the real reason for the killings, the officer said. Jharkhand tribes are matriarchal, so rights of inheritance and ownership of land are vested in women.
Cherry thieves on the run
Japanese police on the trail of crooks who stole cherries so pricey they are known as "red diamonds" have so far struck out -- but they did manage to nab pranksters who pinched bronze replicas of the fruit. Farmers have been sleeping out in their orchards in Yamagata, western Japan, since 1.3 tonnes of ripe Sato Nishiki cherries -- which sell for about US$130 per small box -- were spirited away by thieves in the dead of night. Police said yesterday they had arrested two youths who swiped a bunch of bronze cherries from a statue honoring the local fruit. "We arrested two 17-year-olds last night, one unemployed and one a construction worker," said a police spokesman. "As for the real thing -- the edible cherries -- we haven't sorted that out yet."
Mice kill woman
A woman has been bitten to death by mice in her home near Shanghai, a news report said yesterday. The 94-year-old woman had been ill for eight months at her home in a village in Chongming County when the mice attacked her as she lay helpless in bed, reported the Hong Kong edition of the China Daily. Her daughter came home from work to find her unconscious with her hands badly mauled and the teeth marks of mice clearly visible near the wounds and on other parts of the woman's body, the newspaper said.