Ferry sinks, 400 missing
Up to 400 people were feared drowned after a ferry sank in a river swollen by monsoon rains in southeastern Bangladesh, the latest in a long series of shipping disasters in the nation. The double-decker M.V. Nasreen was on its way to the southern town of Barisal from Dhaka when it went down in the Meghna river in Chandpur, 170km southeast of the capital on Tuesday, officials said. "The ferry sank at 11pm on Tuesday night with over 600 people ... According to survivors, only 200 swam to safety or were rescued and the rest sank with the ferry," Baktiar Alam, police superintendent of the Chandpur district, said by telephone.
Convicted trio deported
Laos yesterday released and deported two European journalists and their inter-preter sentenced last week to 15 years' jail in a case that triggered an international outcry. Arriving in Bangkok on a Lao Aviation flight from Vientiane, journalists Thierry Falise and Vincent Reynaud, looking tired but unhurt, described their ordeal as "terrifying." The two men and their translator, Naw Karl
Mua, an American pastor of Laotian origin, were arrested last month while reporting on an ethnic Hmong rebellion in northern Laos. Falise told reporters in Bangkok that the trial was "a farce ... it was like a bad movie." The US embassy in Vientiane said Naw Karl Mua was also aboard the flight, but reporters in Bangkok did not spot him.
■ The Philippines
Priest admits having children
A Roman Catholic priest has been relieved of his duties after confessing before church members in a central Philippine town that he fathered two children, a news report said yesterday. According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parish priest Oscar Ornopia was relieved on Tuesday, more than a month after he made the surprise announcement. The report said Ornopia bravely faced a packed church June 1 in Talamban,Cebu Province, and asked for forgiveness for his indiscretion.
Transsexual seeks police job
Police in Victoria state drew conservatives' ire yesterday by accepting the application of an admitted transsexual
to join the force. Police officials defended the right
of the unnamed applicant -- described in press reports as a 1.88m male who dresses
as a woman and plans to undergo a sex-change operation -- to apply for a job. Police human resources director Sanjib Roy said, "We want to make sure we don't discriminate on the basis of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, or religion as this would be contrary to equal-opportunity laws."
Editor sentenced to life
A court in northwestern Pakistan sentenced an editor to a life term for publishing a blasphemous letter that insulted Islam, a news report said yesterday. Sub-editor Munawar Mohsin was held responsible for the publica-tion of a letter in the daily Frontier Post containing
a derogatory remark about the Prophet of Islam, according to the newspaper Dawn. Mohsin said it was
a mistake caused by a computer glitch, and tried
to shift responsibility to his news editor and computer supervisor, but the judge did not find them guilty. The judge ruled on the basis of Mohsin's confession that he had selected the letter for publication, rejecting a late plea by the defense lawyer that his client was a drug addict and not in proper senses when he let it pass.