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.
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.
Crucial elections held
Serbs were due to decide yesterday whether to return Slobodan Milosevic's allies to power and risk renewed isolation from the international community, or choose pro-democracy parties that succeeded in ousting the dictator but later failed to live up to voters' expectations. About 6.5 million people are eligible to cast ballots in elections for Serbia's 250-member parliament, seen as crucial for the stability of the republic and the whole of the Balkans, still recovering from four wars fomented by Milosevic and his loyalists in the 1990s. In a sign that the nationalism that led to those wars is on the upswing again, a key Milosevic ally, the extreme nationalist Serbian Radical Party, is predicted to win most votes among the 19 parties and coalition and more than 4,000 candidates on the ballot.
■ United States
Bodies pulled from slide
Four children were among seven people confirmed dead in a mud slide that struck a rugged canyon in southern California on Christmas Day, local authorities said on Saturday. Seven people were still missing, some of them children, after Thursday's slide in the fire-ravaged Old Waterman Canyon, about 100km east of Los Angeles. The San Bernardino County Coroner's office identified four of the dead as 11-year-old Jose Pablo Navarro, Ramon Meza, 29, and Wendy Monzon, 17, and her 9-year-old sister Raquel, two family members of the caretaker at a camp in the canyon. One victim, aged between 12 and 14, was not identified, and no details were immediately available on the two bodies found late on Saturday.
UN peacekeepers deployed tanks and took up positions in a rebel-held Liberian town Saturday for the first time since arriving in this West African nation to help secure a peace deal to end years of war. A contingent of Pakistani troops rolled into Klay, a small town 37km northwest of the capital, Monrovia. UN peacekeeping commander General Daniel Opande continued on to the nearby rebel stronghold of Tubmanburg and said peacekeepers would also move units there soon. The deployment "begins the long road to reunite the whole country together," Opande said Fighters from the Liberians United for Reconciliation rebel group had blocked the deployment on Thursday, saying the UN had not informed them peacekeepers were coming.
Troops kill teenager
Israeli troops scouring a West Bank militant stronghold killed a Palestinian teenager and wounded at least 17 other people in clashes with stone throwers on Saturday, witnesses and medics said. They said a 17-year-old was fatally shot in the chest while confronting troops, who have stepped up searches in Nablus since a local suicide bomber killed three off-duty Israeli soldiers and a teenage girl outside Tel Aviv on Thursday. Six of the wounded Palestinians were shot by live ammunition and 11 by rubber bullets in clashes, witnesses and medics said. A military spokesman denied troops fired live ammunition, saying they responded with rubber bullets and tear gas after coming under a barrage of stones and Molotov cocktails in various areas of Nablus. He had no word on casualties.
‘DEEPLY DISTURBING’ In one extreme case at an Ontario nursing home, an elderly patient was believed to have choked to death while being fed lying down Conditions at Ontario nursing homes hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, as described by troops helping out there, are “deeply disturbing,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday. The Canadian military last month deployed troops at the height of the pandemic to five elderly care homes in the nation’s most populous province to fill severe staff shortages. The military said that it found blatant disregard for infection control measures and “horrible” care of seniors that verged on abuse, a report said. The troops said that among other forms of mistreatment, residents had been “left in beds soiled in diapers,” crying for help and
Less than two months after detecting its first COVID-19 infection, Montenegro is the first nation in Europe to declare itself free of the coronavirus, a success story the tiny nation hopes would lure tourists to its Adriatic coast this summer. For weeks hotel staff have been raking empty beaches as the pandemic kept away visitors who would normally be arriving by plane, cruise ship and road this time of year, but finally there is a sliver of hope after Montenegro announced it no longer has any active cases of COVID-19. Tourism operators have already seized the opportunity to brand Montenegro as “Europe’s
With cat photographs and sometimes scathing irony, Switzerland-based Mathieu Rebeaud biochemistry researcher has nearly tripled his Twitter following since the COVID-19 pandemic began. With 14,000 followers, he posts almost daily, giving explanations on the latest scientific research and, in particular, aims to fight misinformation that spreads as fast as the novel coronavirus. He is among a growing number of doctors, academics and institutions who in the past several weeks have adapted and amplified their scientific messaging in hopes of countering what has been termed an “infodemic” — a deluge of information, including widespread false claims, which experts have said can pose a
NEW ZEALAND PM unfazed by quake Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern barely skipped a beat when an earthquake struck during a live TV interview yesterday morning. She interrupted Newshub host Ryan Bridge to tell him what was happening at the parliament complex in the capital, Wellington. “We’re just having a bit of an earthquake here Ryan, quite a decent shake here,” she said, looking up and around the room. “But, um, if you see things moving behind me.” The magnitude 5.6 quake struck in the ocean about 100km northeast of Wellington, the US Geological Survey said. The quake hit just before 8am and