Flood emergency declared
A state of emergency was declared in India's flood-hit northeastern state of Assam yesterday, with authorities describing the flooding as the worst in 50 years. "Please treat this [floods] as an emergency as this is the biggest flood in 50 years," Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said in a letter of appeal for funds to the federal government. "There may be further devastation in the coming days because flood-management structures throughout the state have been damaged by the two successive waves of floods this year," the letter warned.
■ New Zealznd
String of fires a mystery
Police were studying security camera footage to see if there was a link between 13 arson incidents in downtown Auckland early yesterday and the self-immolation of a woman who died. Camera footage shows an unidentified woman setting herself alight in Aotea Square in the downtown area, Detective Senior Sergeant Jon Moss said. They are working through other video footage to link her to 13 other mainly small fires throughout the downtown area.
Snake king poisoned
A man known as southern China's "King of Snakes" has died of a cobra bite, hours after selling the snake that bit him, a news report said yesterday. Liu Chuanxing, 55, who has earned a living capturing wild snakes for more than 40 years, was bitten by the 1.4kg wild cobra in Xinyi, western Guangdong Province, on Monday. He refused to see a doctor, applied his own homemade herbal medicine, and took the captured cobra to a restaurant where he sold it for 350 yuan (US$42). Liu fell ill hours later, however, and died on his way to hospital, according to the Hong Kong edition of the China Daily newspaper.
Airline passenger stabbed
An airline passenger was stabbed in the neck during a Thai Airways flight from Bangkok to Sydney yesterday, Australian Federal Police said. A 50-year-old Vietnamese-born Sydney man was stabbed in the head and neck with a fork in what is believed to have been an argument over seating arrangements. A 22-year-old man from Sydney was being questioned by police. Last month a Sydney man was arrested for brandishing a knife on board a Virgin Blue flight from Sydney to Cairns. Meanwhile on May 29 a man armed with two sharpened wooden stakes allegedly tried to hijack a Qantas jet between Melbourne and Launceston, attacking a purser as he tried to force his way into the cockpit.
100kg heroin seized
Australian officers have seized 100kg of heroin in Sydney with the help of authorities in Taiwan, federal police and customs officials said yesterday. The stash was uncovered in a shipping container on June 28 as part of an operation against an international smuggling gang. No arrests were made, but police said investigations were continuing. "The seizure has dealt a significant blow to a major drug trafficking syndicate attempting to import illicit drugs into Australia" said Peter Drennan, acting general manager of eastern operations for the Australian Federal Police. Justice Minister Chris Ellison said in a statement that the heroin had an estimated street value of A$55 million (US$36 million) and was the largest seizure made in Australia since March last year.
Storms kill four
Violent storms have killed four people and injured about 60 in camping sites and vacation villages in southwestern France, local officials reported on yesterday. Three other people were still missing after the sudden storms broke a heatwave along the southern part of France's Atlantic coast late on Tuesday evening, they said. Falling pine trees devastated tents and trailers at a campsite in Biscarosse, a beach resort between Bordeaux and Biarritz. Winds and occasional hailstorms knocked out power supplies in the area and interrupted train services.