■ Pakistan Slain engineer sent home \n \nA Pakistani military plane left for China yesterday carrying the body of a Chinese engineer who was kidnapped by al-Qaeda-linked militants then killed during an attempt to rescue him and another hostage. As the C-130 plane took off from an army air base near Islamabad, Pakistani Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao vowed that Wang Peng's death would not go unpunished. He said security forces were hunting for militant leader Abdullah Mehsud, a former prisoner at the US military base Guantan-amo Bay who was released in March and who authorities believe has since forged ties with al-Qaeda. China's state-run news agency said Peng's body was being taken to Jinan, capital city of China's eastern Shandong province, where his company is based. \n \n■ Philippines \nPolice shoot dead suspects \n \nPolice shot dead four men during a car chase in Manila in the fourth mass killing by law enforcement officers in a month, police said yesterday. The four were killed after police attempted to flag down a van in the Manila suburb of Quezon City on Friday on suspicion that it was stolen, senior police superintendent Leopoldo Bataoil said. When the van refused to stop, police gave chase and the four men were shot during the pursuit. Bataoil said he believed there was an exchange of fire between the van and the police but gave no details. On Oct. 11 police shot dead five suspected members of a robbery gang in a Manila suburb. \n \n■ Cambodia \nMan attacks partner's family \n \nPolice are seeking the suitor of a girl whom they believe mounted a vicious vendetta against her family after she refused to have sex before marriage. Nuth Ly, Ochrov district police chief in Banteay Meanchey province, more than 400km northwest of the capital on the Thai border, said the tragedy began when three masked men armed with AK-47s and knives broke into the family home of the girl at midnight on Oct. 15. He said the men stabbed the mother, Hout Run, 45, through the throat, killing her, and also repeatedly stabbed and severely wounded the father, Sek Sovan, 44. \n \n■ Philippines \nSeven drown at beach resort \n \nSeven boy scouts drowned Saturday while swimming at a beach resort in a central Philippine town, a police report said. The report said the fatalities, aged between 12 and 15, were among the 10 scouts who sneaked away from a scouting jamboree for a swim in San Joaquin town in Iloilo province, 480km south of Manila. Officials who rushed to the beach after hearing cries of help were able to rescue three of the boy scouts alive. The seven fatalities were swept away by strong undercurrents and rising tides. \n \n■ Thailand \nTwo arrested for robbery \n \nPolice said yesterday they have arrested two of three suspects wanted for stealing bank notes worth 3 million baht (US$72,500) from the Thai central bank's official printing plant. Manamatee Ratanawilaivit, 35, and Kiartkampon Yodyiemkra, 25, were arrested Friday night at a hotel on the outskirts of Bangkok, said metropolitan police chief Lieutenant General Pansiri Prapawat. The arrests came after police identified Manamatee from closed circuit video footage of the bank's security room during the theft earlier this month. Manamatee was employed there, but had stopped going to work on Sept. 29, he said. They face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, Pansiri said. \n■ United Kingdom Fergie urged to stay clothed \n \nNews that controversial Sarah Ferguson is to pose nude for a charity book was greeted by one British newspaper yesterday with a campaign urging her to stay clothed. A readers' petition -- entitled "Keep 'em on, Fergie" -- was The Sun's swift response to the deci-sion by Ferguson, the former daughter-in-law of Queen Elizabeth whose official title is the Duchess of York. According to Ferguson's spokeswoman, she will appear nude but for some Cartier jewels and a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes for a charity book being produced to help an AIDS charity. The Sun printed cut-out coupons in yester-day's edition which it urged readers to sign and send to Ferguson. "Dear Fergie," they read, "please, please don't inflict your naked pictures on the world." \n \n■ Italy \nLocomotive runs away \n \nA driverless diesel loco-motive thundered nearly 200km through southern Italy at 80kph on Friday before line staff managed to derail it in a disused station. The driver had set the engine in motion, leaned out to see if the line ahead was clear, then slipped and fell from his cabin. Stations along the line were evac-uated and emergency services stood by. A first attempt to block its passage failed when it smashed its way through heavy obstacles piled on the track. The locomotive was finally switched on to a track leading up to a disused station at the top of a long incline, where it smashed through buffers, brought down an electrical pylon and derailed before finally coming to a halt. \n \n■ Croatia \nClerk humiliates robber \n \nAn armed robber gave up a bank hold up after the cashier laughed at his order to stick 'em up, state news agency Hina reported on Thursday. The masked robber entered a bank at Zagreb's main square and threatened the clerk with his gun. "Knowing she was behind a bulletproof glass, the clerk laughed heartily, rang her boss to say she was being robbed and asked him to call the police," Zagreb police spokeswoman told the agency. The humiliated robber turned and took to his heels, she said. \n \n■ Germany \nRetiree wrecks police car \n \nA pensioner angry at being stranded at a railway station smashed up a police car with his crutch when police refused to drive him home or get him a hotel room, authorities said on Friday. When police in the western town of Gronau told the man late Thursday that his train only operated on Saturdays, he stormed off to the station car park and unleashed his fury on their car, shattering its lights and mirrors and denting the bodywork. Police found the man sitting down with the broken remnants of his crutch by the vandalized vehicle. Police said the man, who could not stand without the crutch, told them he would have done even more damage had the crutch not broken. \n \n■ Pakistan \nIllegal workers back home \n \nSome 1,200 illegal Pakistani immigrants on board two cargo vessels arrived in Karachi yesterday after being deported by Oman. The immigrants, ferried on boats normally used for animal transport, com-plained of "bad treatment" by the Omanese authorities. Tired after two days of travelling without any proper food, the group was thoroughly investigated before being released by the Pakistani authorities. \n■ Peru Fruit sellers riot \n \nMore than 100 riot police battled Friday for control of Lima's largest wholesale fruit market against vendors armed with shotguns, pistols and homemade firebombs. No fatalities were reported. But when the tear gas cleared, 23 police were injured, including five with buckshot wounds to the face and two with bullets in their arms and legs, Interior Minister Javier Reategui told Canal N television. Police said 10 fruit market workers were injured and more than 110 people were arrested. For years, Lima officials have tried to gain control of the market in La Victory, one of the city's most dangerous districts, where the vendors allegedly ignored government regulations and evaded paying municipal taxes. \n \n■ United States \nSnowball shooter sentenced \n \nA man charged with shooting at a group of children following a snowball fight was convicted Friday of attempted murder and other offenses. Police said Joseph Best, 34, fired the shots into a crowd in West Philadelphia in February 2003 because he was angry that his daughter had been struck in the head by a snowball. Ten-year-old Ebony Smith was wounded in the shooting and spent two months in the hospital. Jurors convicted Best of attempted murder, aggravated assault and weapons offenses. He will be sentenced in December. Best's fiancee, Cynthia Powell, 38, was acquitted of all charges other than weapons offenses."We wanted the person who pulled the trigger, Joseph Best," said Carol Smith, Ebony's mother, "and we got him." \n \n■ Italy \nSnubs from De Niro \n \nUS film star Robert De Niro snubbed the country of his forebears twice in as many days, standing up dignitaries in Rome on Friday after refusing a top honor from fashion capital Milan on Thursday. The two-time Oscar winner flew to Italy for both events. Milan's mayor had intended to give De Niro The Golden Ambrosius award, the city's highest honor, to show support for the actor many Italians consider one of their own. But De Niro refused it, provoking fury among officials and the Italian press. He then failed to turn up at a news conference in Rome about the inclusion of an Italian showcase at the New York Tribeca Film Festival he co-founded. In a statement issued by his publicist in Los Angeles, De Niro blamed "serious communications problems" for the controversy. \n \n■ Brazil \nDrug planes targeted \n \nIn an effort to curb drug smuggling in its huge territory, Brazil's air force will be given the green light tomorrow to shoot down suspected drug planes. Authorities said the harsh measure was needed to stem the flow of cocaine pouring into the country, often on small planes that use clandestine landing strips in Brazil's vast Amazon rain forest. "Neighboring countries already are informed [about the measure] and the criminals have been warned," Defense Minister Jose Viegas told reporters. Only Colombia has a similar "shoot-down law" in effect. In the past, Peru also shot down suspected drug planes, but it stopped the practice after downing a plane carrying an American missionary and her daughter in 2001, killing both of them and seriously injuring the pilot. Viegas dismissed fears that the law would produce innocent victims. He said a gamut of precautionary procedures will be taken before a pilot is authorized to attack.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and