Aid rice reportedly seized
The Agriculture Ministry'S quarantine agency has allegedly impounded more than 22,680 tonnes of World Food Program (WFP) rice imported for victims of the Dec. 26 tsunami because it did not have the required paperwork from the Trade Ministry, a report said yesterday. The state-run news agency Antara quoted the head of the quarantine agency as saying that "Although the rice was imported for humanitarian purposes, it is still subject to standard quarantine requirements." WFP officials in Jakarta, however, said they were unaware of any cases in which their food had been held up by the government.
Icy death for a Romeo
A love triangle ended in tragedy when the two young men waded into a freezing river to decide who would win the girl, a news report said yesterday. As the girl could not decide between her two suitors, they staged an endurance test to see who could stand for longest in the icy waters of the Oujiang River in Zhejiang Province. The two men, both in their early 20s, stood chest-high in the water for 40 minutes with the girl standing on the shore as referee until finally one of them passed out with the cold. His rival and the girl pulled him out of the water but it was too late to save his life, the Hong Kong edition of the China Daily reported.
■ Hong Kong
Incense could pose risk
New Year worshippers might be putting their health at risk if they burn too much incense in temples, a news report said yesterday. Tests by Hong Kong's Polytechnic University on incense sticks showed seven out of 10 brands sold in Hong Kong gave out more carbon monoxide than is allowed under the territory's environmental guidelines. Six brands also gave out formaldehyde, a potentially cancer-causing substance, including one Singapore-made joss stick which was found to give out double the recommended Hong Kong limit. Researcher Frank Lee told the South China Morning Post that people should avoid burning large joss sticks and open as many windows as possible when setting light to them.
■ New Zealand
Squatter spies on church
Parishioners at St. Annes Catholic Church in Harihari, South Island, have been told their confessions remain secret despite the fact that a squatter has been living in the roof for years, it was reported yesterday. Police were trying to remove the man who was refusing to come down from his hiding place, the Newstalk ZB radio station reported. It said he was believed to have been hiding over the sacristy for up to seven years. The man was discovered when the priest saw a hand come out of a hole in the roof, but he retreated when he realized other people were in the church. Church officials believe the ceiling is too thick for anyone to hear what was said in the confessional.
Province hit by two bombs
A homemade bomb exploded on Monday inside the headquarters of the provincial government in Quetta, while a second explosion damaged a portion of a railroad in Baluchistan Province, injuring at least four people and disrupting trains, police said. The building, located in a heavily guarded part of the city of Quetta, was empty at the time because the secretariat had closed for the day. The second bomb exploded on a railroad bridge near Sibi, a town about 160km southeast of Quetta, blowing up about a 1m portion of the track.