Navy finds ferry wreck
A Bangladeshi navy ship yesterday located the wreckage of a river ferry that capsized in choppy waters last week as authorities confirmed that more than 500 people died in the disaster. The navy used sonar to find the M V Nasreen 37m under the turbulent Meghna River, where the triple-deck ferry sank with about 750 people on board, said Mohammed Nuruzzaman, a government relief official. Authorities said more than 500 people perished in the July 8 ferry disaster and 220 survived. A total of 182 bodies have so far been found and another about 350, whose bodies have yet to be found, are assumed to have died, rescue officials said.
■ The Philippines
Marcos cash released
The Philippine Supreme Court yesterday awarded US$650 million in Swiss bank deposits, which had belonged to the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, to the government, a court spokesman said. "There is a ruling. This has been promulgated, that the Swiss deposits in escrow in the PNB [Philippine National Bank] have been forfeited in favor of government," Supreme Court spokesman Ismael Khan said. The funds now deposited in the PNB, were the only ones ever discovered from the huge fortune allegedly looted by Marcos during his 20-year reign, which ended when he was ousted in a bloodless uprising in 1986.
Hanson weeps in court
Pauline Hanson, the former leader of Australia's right-wing One Nation Party, wept as she entered a courtroom yesterday to face trial for election fraud -- a charge that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a possible ban on running again for office. Hanson burst onto Australia's political scene in 1996 with her attacks on Asian immigration and Aboriginal welfare payments, sparking outrage abroad and controversy at home. Hanson and party co-founder David Ettridge both face charges of fraudulently registering One Nation in 1997. Hanson is also accused of falsely claiming almost 500,000 Australian dollars (US$330,000) in public electoral funds.
Fires bring catastrophe
Bushfires over the past year have caused the country's worst ever environmental disaster, a parliamentary inquiry heard on Monday. The smoke released during the southern summer was equivalent to a year's vehicle emissions, the inquiry heard. "This wasn't just another bushfire. This was the worst environmental disaster in the written history of this nation," said Kate Carnell of the National Association of Forest Industries. Reviving the 3 million hectares affected by the fires would use an eighth of the water in the Murray-Darling basin, Australia's biggest river system.
Public against prostitution
Despite a reputation for tolerance, most Thais are against proposals to legalize prostitution, according to a poll by a Bangkok university. The poll, published on Ramkhamhaeng University's Web site at the weekend, found that 81.3 percent opposed proposals to allow sex to be legally sold in the country. Of the 1,467 people questioned, 55 percent disagreed with claims that legalizing the sex industry would reduce corruption and bribe taking. Many thought tentative government proposals were tantamount to promoting immoral behavior in the mainly Buddhist nation, the university, one of Thailand's largest state institutions, said.