Doctors help India, Sri Lanka
Afghanistan plans to send a team of doctors and a planeload of supplies to India and Sri Lanka to help victims of last week's devastating tsunami, officials said yesterday. About a dozen military medics as well as medicine and equipment will leave for the disaster zone as soon as possible, ministry spokesman General Zaher Mohammed Azimi said. He said that the supplies would be enough to help about 5,000 people. The relief team is to be led by former health minister General Suhaila Siddiq, a military surgeon whose skills were so valued that the former ruling Taliban allowed her to continue to work despite their opposition to women working.
Martial arts writer rescued
An alert hotel manager woke up martial arts novelist Louis Cha and helped him evacuate his hotel room in Thailand as the tsunami hit the building, a magazine reported yesterday. The Hong Kong author -- whose pen name is Jin Yong or Kam Yung -- was staying at a beach-front hotel on the hard-hit resort island of Phuket, Eastweek magazine reported. He and his wife were asleep in their sixth-floor room when the tsunami struck, but the hotel's manager woke them up by beating on their door. He led them to a higher floor as the hotel became flooded, according to the report. Cha's daughter and two grand-children had to flee killer waves while enjoying breakfast on the hotel's first floor, the report said.
■ North Korea
Relief funds donated
North Korea, one of the world's poorest countries, which depends on foreign aid to help feed about a quarter of its people, is donating US$150,000 in emergency relief to countries devastated by the Indian Ocean tsunami. The communist state is no stranger to natural disaster and a famine in the late 1990s is estimated to have killed more than 1 million people and prompted up to 300,000 people to seek refuge in China. "The government and people of the DPRK [North Korea] express condolences and sympathy to the governments and peoples of the afflicted countries and hope the aftermath of the quake and tsunami will be eradicated," the official KCNA news agency said yesterday.
Activist gets longer sentence
Authorities have added three more months to the sentence of a Shanghai woman serving one-and-a-half years in a labor camp for her campaign to abolish China's family planning policies, a human rights organization said yesterday. Mao Hengfeng's original sentence was handed down by the Shanghai Public Security Bureau in April 2003. She was informed last month of the extension, according to a statement from New York-based Human Rights in China.
Boy dies of bird flu
Bird flu has killed a 9-year-old boy, a health official said yesterday, marking the first reported death this year from a virus that killed more than 30 people last year and ravaged the poultry industry as it swept across Asia. The death comes a week after the World Health Organization warned Vietnam may face new bird flu outbreaks this month, as poultry is transported around the country ahead of the Lunar New Year celebrations. Preliminary tests showed the H5N1 bird flu virus killed the boy on Tuesday night in the Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh, said Luong Van Minh, deputy director of the provincial hospital.
■ South Africa
Mbeki attacks Churchill