Mon, Mar 08, 2004 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Philippines
Government denies charges

The Philippine government defended itself yesterday against accusations that it had influenced a court to allow corruption-accused former president Joseph Estrada to leave jail to visit his holiday home. Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said there had been no government involvement in the decision of the special anti-graft court, the Sandiganbayan, to allow Estrada to visit his villa east of Manila. "This is all under the control of the Sandiganbayan. Whatever was implemented by the jailers of our former president was within the decision ... of the Sandiganbayan," Bunye said. Prosecutors insist that the court would not have condoned Estrada's excursions without instruction from President Gloria Arroyo's government.

■ Afghanistan

Red Crescent official killed

A director of the Afghan Red Crescent Society was shot dead in the troubled southern province of Zabul, officials said yesterday. Mohammad Isah was killed near the provincial capital of Qalat late on Saturday when armed men forced his car to stop, dragged him from the vehicle and executed him. His younger brother traveling in the same vehicle was unharmed. Zabul governor Kheyal Mohammad Husseini said it was too early to say who was behind the attack. "It is not yet clear," he said. "It could be a local problem, it could be the work of terrorists."

■ Japan

Space program to continue

Japan, undaunted by the failed launch of spy satellites late last year, aims to revive its H-2A rocket program by launching a weather satellite as early as November. Improvements on the rocket boosters that caused the failure last November are almost complete and a science ministry report is to be finalized today paving the way for the next launch. A spokesman for the space agency could not be reached for confirmation. In November Japan had to destroy its sixth H-2A rocket just 10 minutes after lift-off as one of its two rocket boosters failed to separate from the fuselage in the second phase of the flight.

■ Japan

TV helicopter crashes

A helicopter chartered by a TV news station crashed while filming a highway accident in central Japan yesterday, killing all four aboard, police said. Witnesses said the helicopter went down after it hit a power line, a Nagano prefecture police official said. A reporter and cameraman for Shinetsu Broadcasting were covering the collision of a truck and van about 240 km southwest of Tokyo when the helicopter crashed. The pilot and mechanic were also killed. The 53-year old pilot was a veteran with 5,500 hours of flying experience.

■ Australia

Nail-gun prank `stupid'

A handyman said he was stupid to shoot himself in the head with a nail gun in a prank which left him with a nail lodged in his brain. Brad Shorten, a father of three from Victoria state, was enjoying a few beers with friends when they began joking about industrial accidents. Shorten, 33, picked up a nail gun which he thought was empty, pointed it at his head and pulled the trigger. "My mates and I were talking about construction site accidents and taking your eye out with a nail gun, and I foolishly put the gun to my head and pulled the trigger," Shorten said. "I did a very stupid thing," he said.

Russia
Blast hits apartment

A powerful blast probably caused by a gas leak ripped through an apartment building in Moscow early yesterday injuring eight people, a spokesman for the capital's police said. Eight residents of the building were rushed to hospital, while other residents refused to be hospitalized, the Interfax news agency quoted Alexander Matonin as saying. The blast in a high-rise apartment building in the south of the city was probably caused by a gas explosion, the ITAR-TASS news agency quoted a police official as saying. "The witnesses' first testimonies and the nature of the damage" pointed to a gas explosion, the official said.

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