Dam threatens villages
An emergency red alert was sounded yesterday in northern Bangladesh as thousands of people threatened by a leaking river dam were asked to leave their homes in the face of fresh floods, relief officials said. At least 12 people were drowned and an estimated 400,000 had become homeless as heavy rains and water cascading down the hills from across the border in India converted the Brahmaputra and Ganges rivers into raging flood waters. Disaster Management Office sources said renewed flooding had destroyed 72,000 mud and straw homes in the northern Rangpur region. About 12,000 farming families living near the Teesta river dam in Dimla and Jaldhaka sub-districts were told to move to flood shelters with their movable valuables and animals.
Seal breaks auction record
The largest seal ever used by an emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and recently retrieved from overseas sold for 6 million yuan (US$722,000) at an auction in China, state media said yesterday. Bidding for the seal, which was said to have been used by Emperor Kang Xi, the fourth emperor of the Qing Dynasty, began at 1.6 million yuan, but soared to a final price of 6 million yuan. It was a record high for the auction of an imperial seal, the Xinhua news agency said. Huachen, a spokesperson for the auctioneer, said the seal featuring carvings across its 9.5cm2 surface, had been retrieved from a US collector.
White whale makes waves
A huge humpback whale that yesterday was making its way up the Great Barrier Reef on Australia's east coast had experts in a tizzy over its sex and coloring. The 12m mammal is completely white, but may not be the very rare albino specimen that some claim it is. Dubbed "Moby Dick" by some and "Moby Dora" by others, marine zoologist were also in disagreement over its sex. The jumbo humpback was first sighted in 1991 and has been seen regularly in the last four years headed from the Antarctic to breed in the waters of north Queensland.
■ Hong kong
Parentage in doubt
Four of 10 Hong Kong men who paid for DNA tests to find out if their children were really theirs had their worst suspicions confirmed, a news report said yesterday. The study quoted by the Sunday Morning Post newspaper found 30 out of 75 cases taken to DNA testing laboratories came back with the conclusion that the father was not the biological parent. A researcher involved in the study, which was originally published in the Chinese Medical Journal, said the results indicated that there might be "a large population of children in Hong Kong whose parentage is in doubt."
Man makes meal of penis
A Malaysian man sliced off his own penis, then fried and ate it after taking hallucinatory pills that caused him to hear voices urging him to mutilate himself, police said yesterday. The 34-year-old man claimed he only realized what he had done when he saw blood oozing from his crotch, said a police spokesman in the town of Sitiawan, 300km north of Kuala Lumpur. The man had taken hallucinatory pills before sleeping on Friday and awoke hearing voices telling him to chop off his penis and devour it, the spokesman said on customary condition of anonymity. He was hospitalized in stable condition, the national news agency Bernama reported. The man had recently been released from a drug rehabilitation center.