Mon, Dec 29, 2003 - Page 6 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Vietnam

Mass grave uncovered

A mass grave estimated to contain the remains of more than 100 Vietnamese soldiers has been uncovered in Vietnam's Central Highlands, state-run media reported yesterday. The grave was found by the "Kon Tum province search team for martyrs" in Dac Me village early last week, said Lieutenant Nguyen Van Dung. The soldiers, who are believed to have died in 1965 and 1966, were found buried in a bomb crater at a site used as a US military base prior to 1972. State run media reported that three pens engraved with men's names were found in the grave but there were no other clues as to the soldiers' identities.

■ India

Cold weather kills 24

A cold snap sweeping across northern India has killed 24 people, mostly the poor and homeless, in the past two days, officials said yesterday. Temperatures over the past week have dropped in most parts of north India and a thick blanket of fog has disrupted rail, road and air travel. Most fatalities were in the populous northern state of Uttar Pradesh which lies near the Himalayas. Temperatures dropped 9?C overnight in some places and stood at 13.7C on Saturday in Uttar Pradesh. "Arrangements have been made for about 100 public bonfires in Lucknow [Uttar Pradesh's capital] to provide relief to pavement dwellers," a state official said.

■ New Zealand

Quake fears quelled

Scientists in New Zealand -- one of the world's most earthquake prone countries -- have reassured people worried about a major shake following major tremors in Iran, California, Central America and China recently. Mark Chadwick, of the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, told Radio New Zealand yesterday that earthquakes measuring between 6 and 6.9 on the Richter scale like those recently in the news occurred on average 134 times a year, or once every two or three days. He said the recent earthquakes had been particularly damaging causing loss of life because they were shallow and near large populations where the construction of dwellings may not be very strong.

■ The Philippines

Estrada trip in the balance

Philippine state prosecutors vowed yesterday to stop detained former president Joseph Estrada from travelling to the US for three months to undergo knee surgery and other medical treatment. Chief Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa Ignacio said the prosecution plans to file a motion today asking the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court to reverse its earlier decision granting Estrada the medical furlough. "The Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction in the US," he said. "Once Erap [Estrada's nickname] is out of the country, the conditions imposed by the court are nothing because they are no longer covered by US laws."

■ Sri Lanka

Minister urges patience

Sri Lanka's foreign minister yesterday appealed to the international community to remain patient with his government's efforts to forge a lasting peace with Tamil Tiger rebels following two decades of civil war. Despite a political stalemate involving President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Sri Lanka remained committed to resuming negotiations with the rebels as soon as possible, said Foreign Minister Tyronne Fernando during a visit to Malaysia. Kumaratunga last month seized control of the defense, interior and information ministries from Wickremesinghe's ruling party.

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