Tue, Jun 15, 2004 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Malaysia

Pirates kidnap fishermen

A group of armed pirates believed to be Indonesian nationals abducted two Malaysian fishermen early yesterday while they were catching prawns off the northern Perak coast. Ng Teck Lai, 38, had gone to sea with his younger brother early yesterday when a big trawler with seven men speaking an Indonesian dialect pulled over their boat, said the state's executive councilor Ho Cheng Wang. The pirates had jumped on board and ordered Ng into their boat before leaving, Ho said. No belongings or cash were taken away in the pre-dawn incidents, but the pirates are expected to demand ransom from family members.

■ India

Let them eat rats: politician

People are starving to death in a remote eastern Indian village, but a politician suggested they can survive on snakes, rats and toads, news reports said yesterday. Voluntary organizations first alerted the media to the deaths in backward Amlashol village in West Bengal state -- five people died of hunger in the last four months, the Telegraph newspaper reported. Villagers said more than 20 people starved to death in the past year. Sambhu Mandi, a minister in the Leftist-ruled state, said as "long as the mountains have trees and leaves" the tribals of the village would not die from hunger. "If there is food scarcity... they will also survive on snakes, rats, toads", the Indian Express quoted him as saying.

■ China

Space woman may not drive

China plans to send its first woman into orbit by 2010, but the country, which prides itself as an equal-opportunity society, does not plan to let her sit in the driver's seat, state media said Monday. As early as next year, officials at the space program will start looking for the right candidate among the nation's 630 million females, the Beijing Times said. The lucky winner will go through a strenuous and demanding training regime before she blasts off onboard a Shenzhou spacecraft, probably as a researcher or technician, at the end of the decade, according to the paper. "The job of steering the Shenzhou will still go to a man," the paper said, quoting an unnamed official.

■ India

Activists set fire to theater

Rightwing activists set fire to a movie hall in the northern city of Varanasi yesterday where a Bollywood film with a lesbian theme was showing. The rightwing Kranti Shiv Sena group claimed responsibility for the fire at the Sajjan movie hall, which caused no injuries, Zee News TV reported. The controversial movie was entitled Girlfriend, one of Bollywood's first movies to explicitly portray lesbianism. Director Karan Razdan said he would not withdraw his film from cinema halls and had every right to make such movies in a democracy.

■ China

Lethal worms targeted

The government has vowed stronger measures to contain the spread of potentially lethal parasitic worms carried by freshwater snails that attack the blood and liver of humans, state media said yesterday. The government plans to use science in its fight against the disease, known as schistosomiasis or snail fever, as research will help identify infection sources and develop prevention methods, the China Daily reported. It is believed that more than one million Chinese are infected with the disease, but given the current prevalence of the carrier snail, 65 million Chinese are in danger of being infected.

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