Dozens of miners trapped
Rescuers were struggling yesterday to find 79 miners trapped by a fire in a complex of iron mines, state media reported. Eight miners were confirmed dead in the blaze, which broke out Saturday morning at the mines in Shahe, a city in Hebei Province, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. It said 106 miners were working underground at the time, and 19 had been rescued alive by yesterday morning. Thick smoke was hindering rescue efforts, and emergency workers sought help from experts from the provincial government, the Beijing Youth Daily newspaper reported.
■ Hong Kong
Democracy leader resigns
The leader of the territory's top pro-democracy party has decided to step down, a colleague said yesterday, with newspapers reporting that he's taking responsibility for the party's poorer-than-expected showing in recent legislative elections. In a cell phone text message, Demo-cratic Party Chairman Sum told fellow party member Fred Li that he won't run for another term in party elections next month, Li told reporters. Yesterday's news-papers quoted Yeung as saying during a television interview he decided to quit to take the fall for the party's disappointing results in the Sept. 12 legislative contest.
Fireworks injure zoo animals
Seven antelopes and two giraffes in Malaysia's national zoo were injured after pranksters attacked them with firecrackers, news reports said yesterday. The incident occurred Thursday when unidentified visitors to the zoo fired homemade firecrackers at the animals, said Malaysian Zoological Society Chairman Ismail Hutson. Two African antelopes lost their tails, while the other animals suffered skin lacerations, Ismail told the national news agency, Bernama. "If there is one thing that we do not like, it is the irresponsible act of firing harmful substances like firecrackers at the animals in the zoo," Ismail was quoted as saying.
Elephant `innocent' of killing
An elephant that stamped on his keeper at a Chinese zoo in the mating season and crushed him to death has been declared innocent because of mitigating circumstances, Xinhua news agency said yesterday. Hu Tianmin was cleaning the elephant house at the zoo in Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province, in August when the five-tonne, 20-year-old male Asian elephant named "Zhongbo" lifted him up, threw him to the ground and stamped on him. "The production safety adminis-tration in Kunming confirmed that the victim was responsible for his own tragedy because he had entered the elephant pen all alone and without adopting any protective measures, in violation of zoo rules," Xinhua said.
■ Hong Kong
Police ready for WTO protest
Bracing for disruptive protests at next year's WTO meeting, Hong Kong's police chief said officers have already started gathering intelligence on anti-globalization groups, a local broadcaster reported yesterday. In an interview with government-run radio RTHK that was partially aired, Commissioner of Police Lee Ming-kwai called the WTO ministerial meeting scheduled for Dec. 13 to 18, next year a big challenge for his department. He said police started preparing for the meeting several months ago, obtaining intelligence on anti-globalization groups from foreign counterparts, RTHK reported.
Illegal immigrants caught