■ China \nPilgrims die in accident \nA truck loaded with Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims overturned on a mountain road in western China, killing at least 54 people and injuring 41, the official Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday. The accident happened around noon on Monday as the truck was traveling through the Qinghai region while making its way back from Tibet's capital Lhasa, Xinhua said. The injured were sent to hospital where 29 of them were in serious condition, the report said. Most of the passengers were from Ganzi and Aba, ethnic Tibetan regions of Sichuan Province, Xinhua said. It said they had been on a pilgrimage to Lhasa, the traditional home of the Dalai Lama, Buddhism's highest figure. Road accidents killed about 100,000 people in China last year, most of them blamed on disregard for safety and unsafe or overloaded vehicles. \n■ Nepal \nFour feared dead in crash \nA helicopter belonging to Dynasty Air crashed yesterday morning near Mt. Everest and all on board were feared to have been killed, a Civil Aviation official said. The site of the crash has been located and a search is on for survivors, he said. The helicopter, piloted by Pemba Sherpa, was carrying two passengers, he said. Unofficial sources said there were four people in the chopper. According to Kathmandu airport officials, the helicopter took off at 7:45am for Lukla to ferry back passengers including tourists stranded there for the past two days due to bad weather conditions. \n■ Australia \nTsunami `hero' arrested \nAn Australian hailed as a hero for allegedly rescuing more than a dozen tsunami victims in Thailand was arrested on Monday as he returned home by police who recognized him as a suspected burglar. Thomas Connell was arrested by police after stepping off the plane at Brisbane Internation-al Airport. Police said they recognized Connell, whom they had been seeking for two years, after he gave a TV interview from Thailand that aired in Australia last week. Connell is wanted on assault and burglary charges. The 32-year-old businessman was dubbed by local media as "the good samaritan of Patong Beach" for his role in allegedly saving as many as 20 people. \n■ India \n`Hugging saint' pledges cash \nAn Indian religious leader known as "the hugging saint" -- because she uses hugs as a gesture of blessing -- has pledged 1 billion rupees (US$22 million) to help survivors of last month's devastating tsunami. Money donated by Mata Amritanandamayi will be used to build homes for tsunami victims in the Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. Amritanandamayi's native village of Parayakadavu in Kerala was among those hit by the Dec. 26 disaster. Amritanandamayi, known by her followers as "Amma," which means ``mother'' in several Indian languages, has devotees throughout India and in the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia. \n■ Hong Kong \nSeafood worries grow \nThe Hong Kong government yesterday urged market vendors to temporarily stop importing seafood from South Asian countries hit by tsunamis because of contamination concerns. Authorities feared that the fish may have eaten heavy metals and other pollutants stirred up by the seismic movements in the seabed, Food and Environmental Hygiene Department Assistant Director Thomas Chung said. \n■ Algeria \nTop rebels arrested, killed \nAlgerian security forces arrested the No.1 leader of the Armed Islamic Group, the radical insurgency movement responsible for brutal village massacres several years ago, and then killed his replacement, the interior ministry announced. In a sweep that began in early November, soldiers and security forces also seized gold stolen from homes during the massacres, as well as weapons and vehicles used by the group, the statement said on Monday. The arrest of Nourredine Boudiafi and the killing of Chaabane Younes all but dismantled the already seriously weakened organization, the statement said. \n■ Somalia \nClan rivals in fierce battle \nGunmen from rival wings of a Somali clan fought using rocket-propelled grenades, anti-aircraft guns and assault rifles in central Somalia on Monday, killing at least 10 people and wounding several others, witnesses said. It is unclear what sparked the battle between the Sa'ad and Suleiman wings of the Habargidir clan, said Muse Ali Kalgaal, a businessman who witnessed the clashes. Fighting broke out before dawn and escalated during the day, with both sides rushing in dozens of fighters in the Mudug region of central Somalia, Muse said. Clashes between the same groups killed more than 100 people last month. \n■ Burundi \nRebels join new army \nBurundi's President Domitien Ndayizeye has signed two laws setting up a new army and a police force which will include the central African country's former rebels, his office announced on Monday. The creation of new security forces is part of a political and military process under way to implement agree-ments on peace and a new administration to end a decade-long civil war which claimed more than 300,000 lives. "Theoretically, all armed fighters in this country are henceforth the responsibility of the government," presidential spokesman Pancrace Cimpaye said. \n■ Kenya \n`City of rats' cleaned up \nSanitation officers have cleared 6,000 rats from the biggest fruit and vegetable Kenyan market in Nairobi, where they shared food with human beings for the past decade, Local Government Minister Musikari Kombo said on Monday. "We cleared about 6,000 rats, 757 tonnes of garbage and 38 tonnes of human waste from the market," Kombo said. "That means nobody has cared to look after this market for years and years," he said. "This is a city of rats," he added. The market, the biggest of its kind in the east African nation, was closed last month after government health officers warned that an outbreak of diseases could emerge from the mountain of waste inside. \n■ Italy \nDusty tourists sully David \nCustodians of Michelangelo's David are thinking of blasting air at dusty, sweaty tourists to stop them sullying the Renaissance sex symbol. Months after a painstaking and costly clean-up of the 500-year-old nude statue, experts at Florence's Galleria dell'Accademia found dust and humidity brought in by streams of tourists had begun to tarnish their top crowd-puller again. "The tourists carry in heaps of dust from outside. Dust may sound innocent, but the city grime contains lots of chemicals. They also bring in humidity when it's raining," museum director Franca Falletti said.
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
PLAYING THE VICTIM? A Chinese spokesman sent a statement to Australian media saying that Beijing had ‘irrefutable’ evidence of Canberra’s widescale espionage Australia yesterday unveiled the “largest-ever” boost in cybersecurity spending, days after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke out about a wave of state-sponsored attacks suspected to have been carried out by China. Morrison and government officials said the country would spend an additional A$1.35 billion (US$928 million) on cybersecurity, about a 10 percent hike, taking the budget for the next decade to A$15 billion. The largest chunk of the new money would help create 500 jobs within the Australian Signals Directorate, the government’s communications intelligence agency. Morrison on June 19 said that a “state-based actor” was targeting a host of
The Philippine army chief yesterday expressed outrage over the fatal police shooting of four soldiers, including two officers, and demanded justice, as both sides provided contrasting accounts of the killings. Philippine Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Eduardo Ano, a retired military chief of staff who now oversees the national police, ordered that the police involved in Monday’s violence in Jolo in Sulu Province be disarmed and restricted for investigation. Police said the soldiers were killed in a “misencounter” with a group of police officers. The army said that the two officers and two enlisted men were on a mission against