Sun, Feb 20, 2005 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Australia

Three men rescued at sea

Three men were rescued after seven weeks adrift in an open dinghy in the Pacific Ocean off the island nation of Kiribati. The three men -- an Australian and two others whose nationalities were not immediately known -- were "OK but tired." On Thursday, a fishing vessel found 22-year-old Benjamin Tooki, who holds both Australian and Kiribati passports, and two companions near Kiribati's outer island of Tabiteuea. The three went missing on Jan. 2 while traveling in an open aluminum dinghy between Kiribati's Maiana and Tarawa Islands. An extensive air and sea search was launched when the boat was reported missing.

■ Cambodia

Abduction probe questioned

The US has condemned the Cambodian government for failing to bring to justice gunmen who raided a shelter and allegedly kidnapped 83 women. US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said yesterday "The findings lack credibility. The Cambodian government has not taken any action to ensure that those responsible for the shelter raid are held accountable and brought to justice." The Cambodian report said the women voluntarily left the shelter run by Afesip -- a nonprofit group that aids abused and trafficked women -- in December. Afesip said the women were abducted by armed men, led by the owner of a brothel where most of the women worked before being rescued in a police raid.

■ Vietnam

Vaccine tests show promise

Tests of a bird-flu vaccine being developed in Vietnam for human use have shown promising results in animals, researchers said yesterday. Dr. Hoang Thuy Nguyen of the National Institute for Hygiene and Epidemiology said his team has been researching a vaccine since early last year, and tests are being conducted on mice, chickens and monkeys. Vietnam has suffered Asia's highest number of human bird flu deaths, with 33 people dead in three outbreaks over the past year. Another 12 people have died in Thailand. Researchers in Vietnam plan to eventually test the vaccine on humans.

■ Singapore

Smoke less, drink more

Hit by a 20 percent hike for a package of cigarettes, smokers in Singapore were left with the option yesterday of taking solace in alcohol, an indulgence with no new increases in taxes. Smoking contributes to nearly 2,500 deaths a year, prompting the government to make the city-state one of the most expensive countries in Asia to light up. Duties on tobacco products shot from 293 Singapore dollars (US$179) per 1,000 sticks to 352 Singapore dollars after they were announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in delivering the 2005 budget on Friday.

■ Vietnam

Old bombs kill three

Bombs left over from the conflict known in Vietnam as the American War have killed three people and injured two. Neighbors Dinh Van Nho and Dinh Khanh, who were both in their 30s, found an orange-sized cluster bomb as they were working in their paddy fields on Thursday, said Nguyen Van Tri, an official from Son Linh commune, 700km north of Ho Chi Minh City. The bomb exploded when the men hit it with a hoe to try and open it. They were killed instantly. Dieu Than, of Binh Phuoc province, 100km north of Ho Chi Minh City, and his relations found a shell in a bush in their village, and were playing catch with it. The shell exploded when it hit the ground, killing Than on the spot.

■ United Kingdom

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