Fri, Jun 25, 2004 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Australia

Muslim prayer hall defaced

The site of a controversial Muslim prayer hall in Sydney was vandalized yesterday with pigs' heads skewered on stakes and pork offal smeared throughout the building. Developer Abbas Aly said builders renovating the hall in the northwestern suburb of Annangrove discovered the vandalism when they arrived at work yesterday morning. "Everyone's mostly upset, it's a very un-Australian thing to happen," he said. "But this won't put us off." The prayer hall attracted fierce opposition when it was first proposed in 2002, with the local Baulkham Hills Council receiving an unprecedented 5,000 letters from residents who did not want the building.

■ Thailand

Visitors get big condoms

Tourists traveling to Thailand will be greeted with an "international" size condom along with the traditional smile next month to mark a global AIDS forum in Bangkok, a Thai senator said yesterday. Senator Mechai Viravaidya said larger condoms would be handed out at the airport while a choice of sizes would be on offer in some taxis, the main train station and at freeway toll booths throughout the July 11-16 International AIDS Conference. "There will be two sizes. A larger international condom and a smaller local one," Mechai said, adding "but if a local feels they need an inter-national condom then they will certainly be given one."

■ India

Bachelor married at 93

After years of waiting for the right woman, a 93-year-old bachelor in remote north-eastern India pronounced himself a happy man this week after wedding his 63-year-old landlady. Darshannanda Vyakarntirtha, a retired government employee, had been a tenant in the house of Jyotsna Bala Das for three decades until her husband died a year ago. Their relationship has since blossomed into romance. "I am very happy. I had to wait for a long time to get a true companion," Vyakarntirtha told reporters after the ceremony on Wednesday in the remote north-eastern state of Tripura.

■ Singapore

Mobile phone stops rape

The ringing of a mobile phone gave a 12-year-old girl the opportunity to escape rape by her uncle, news reports said yesterday. The 36-year-old man was jailed for five and a half years and ordered to be given four strokes of the cane after admitting he tried to rape his niece on Jan. 11 last year, The Straits Times said. The court heard they sat on a bench on a promenade at night, where he suddenly started to undress her and forcefully pulled down her trousers. Just then his mobile phone rang and he stopped to answer the call. She quickly pulled up her trousers and demanded he take her home. He did, but said he would take her out again. The man had been released from jail in 2002 after serving time for a drug offense.

■ Australia

Tourist survives 70m fall

A US tourist in Australia was in a critical condition in hospital yesterday after falling 70m into a canyon, officials said. The 21-year-old man from Texas fell on Wednesday afternoon from a lookout in Morton National Park, south of Sydney. He had climbed over the lookout's safety barrier to retrieve a shoe when he fell, ambulance officials said, adding that something may have broken his fall. Rescuers reached him yesterday morning and winched him aboard a helicopter before rushing him to hospital, where he was treated for serious head and spinal injuries.

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