Wake gamblers raided
Funeral wakes have become occasions for illegal gambling in Singapore, prompting a series of raids by police, officials said yesterday. With wakes often held in tents set up on housing block decks, the gambling operators rent out space from the bereaved family in a separate tent behind the coffin, and they often harass the mourners into allowing them to do so. "Police do not normally act against family members and friends of the deceased for playing card games," a spokesman told The Straits Times. But police have raided several wakes following information received from the public.
SARS vaccine passes trials
Chinese researchers have developed a SARS vaccine that has passed the first stage of human trials, state media reported yesterday, raising hopes for prevention of a virus that killed some 800 people since it emerged in 2002. Antibodies against SARS developed in 24 of 36 volunteers in the trial, the official Xinhua news agency said, though several more clinical trials were required before the vaccine would be ready for commercial use. "We have finished our first-phase clinical test in line with international vaccine-testing requirements," the China Daily quoted the director of the research team, Yin Weidong, as saying.
Mudslide buries homes
While the death toll from severe flooding in the Indonesian province of East Java continued to rise, claiming the lives of at least 15 people, a massive mudslide buried almost 1,000 homes, local media reported yesterday. Dozens of villagers were reported missing in a landslide that hit Tambakrejo village, almost 40km south of Blitar regency -- the area hit hardest by flooding the last few days that caused 13 casualties, including a baby. "We do not know yet whether there are fatalities in the landslide, but dozens of people have been reportedly missing," a rescue worker, Agung Mahendra, was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Post.
Landslide blamed on mining
Survivors of a mountain landslide in southwestern China which killed at least 32 people in their sleep have blamed coal mining for making the ground unstable, state media said yesterday. A mass of earth and rock measuring 500m long, 200m wide and 3m high destroyed 25 houses early on Friday in the village in Guizhou province, the China Daily said. State TV said 12 missing villagers were presumed dead. "The heaviest stones hitting the houses weighed more than 100 tonnes, so people buried under them had no chance of surviving," the Beijing News quoted a local police official as saying.
Opera-fed sheep set record
Pampered Australian sheep which listen to Italian opera have set a new price record for the world's finest wool, their owners said yesterday. A 91kg bale of fine wool was sold to Italian designer Loro Piana for A$227,500 (US$177,700), to be turned into 50 designer suits that will retail for about A$15,000. Woolgrower Barry Walker said the bale was the finest wool ever produced. Walker is one of five farmers in the Highlander Partnership, who contribute their best sheep to the fine wool project based in New South Wales. The special flock is kept mostly indoors in small groups to protect them from temperature extremes. They listen to music, including Italian opera and recordings of Italian singer Andrea Bocelli.