Stowaway still recovering
A 14-year-old boy who survived a 700km flight stowed in the landing gear of a plane has been diagnosed with sunken eardrums and trauma to his ear nerves. The boy was deprived of oxygen and exposed to cold air during the flight in 2003 in which another teenage boy died after falling from the landing gear as the jet took off from Yunnan province's capital city Kunming. Since the incident the boy has suffered headaches, poor hearing and dizziness. The family's local doctors have been unable to find a cure and the family are appealing for help. The boys had run away from home and apparently wanted to experience flying, reports said.
■ Hong Kong
BBQ briquettes dangerous
Barbecue briquettes may soon be sold under lock and key in Hong Kong where calls are growing for restrictions on their sale following a spate of charcoal-burning suicides. Supermarkets chains in the former British colony will hold talks with suicide prevention officials to discuss ways of curbing a growing trend among suicides who gas themselves by burning charcoal in unventilated rooms. The talks, reported in the Sunday Morning Post, follow the release of figures showing some 300 people kill themselves each year by burning charcoal -- a quarter of all Hong Kong suicides in 2003. The trend has even spread to other parts of the region, including Japan, Taiwan and New Zealand. Campaigners want charcoal sales to come under the same restrictions as guns and drugs. "We believe suicide prevention is everyone's business," said Paul Yip, director of Hong Kong University's suicide prevention center.
Jesus has tight security
Security was tight in the Philippine capital of Manila Sunday as thousands of people gathered for an annual Roman Catholic procession despite a foiled plot to bomb the event. Tens of thousands of Catholic devotees take part in the annual procession in which an ebony icon of Jesus is taken from the Quiapo church and paraded around the district. Police suspect Muslim separatists. Superintendent Romulo Sapitula, a district police chief, urged devotees not to bring too much cash or wear jewelry to avoid attracting robbers. On Friday, police arrested 16 suspects allegedly plotting to bomb the Black Nazarene procession. Police also seized three powerful homemade bombs, which were similar to an explosive device found in a passenger bus in Quiapo on Christmas Eve.
■ Sri Lanka
Grenades kill three
Two hand grenades hurled in a rare clash between Christians and Hindus killed at least three people and injured 37 others in a part of eastern Sri Lanka where international aid workers are helping tsunami victims, police said. No aid workers were injured. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, in Sri Lanka to see tsunami damage, was in Colombo at the time of the blast. Two suspected assailants were arrested soon after the attack in a Tamil rebel-controlled area late Saturday. Anil, a police officer in the eastern town of Valaichchenai, said Christians were angry that Hindus had demolished a church and may have carried out the attack in retaliation. Clashes between Hindus and Christians are rare since both groups belong to the Tamil minority and believe they are oppressed by the Buddhist Sinhalese majority.
Airport says threat is a hoax
Authorities discretely stepped up security at the Nice international airport after receiving a letter threatening a toxic gas attack that they dismissed as a probable hoax, a ranking official said. Nevertheless, a long-delayed readiness exercise to counter nuclear, chemical and biological attacks was planned for yesterday, when the threatening letter said the attack would take place, said Francoise Souliman, top aide at the Alpes-Maritime prefecture, or regional government. "We received a threatening letter. But after analysis by specialized services, it appears rather fanciful,'' she said on Saturday. The letter, written in German and signed by a mysterious group decrying globa-lization, was received on Friday by officials of the Nice-Cote d'Azur airport.