Thu, Feb 24, 2005 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Hong Kong

Boy chokes on `lucky' coin

A "lucky" coin hidden inside a dumpling nearly choked a schoolboy to death in western China when it lodged firmly in his throat, a news report said yesterday. The boy, 8, swallowed the coin at a family's Lunar New Year feast in Chongqing as part of an old Chinese tradition. Whoever finds the coin is supposed to have good luck in the Lunar New Year, according to the tradition. The Year of the Rooster began this month. The choking boy was rushed to hospital where doctors saved him and told the family he would have died if they had arrived three minutes later, the Hong Kong edition of the China Daily reported.

■ Australia

Monster eel wreaks havoc

A monster eel is proving its pulling power as a tourist attraction at an Australian fish farm, but manager Gary Wales reckoned the 3m interloper is eating more than any profit it brings in. Wales told the national broadcaster ABC yesterday that a bounty of A$1,000 (US$750) would be paid to anyone who caught the fish alive and unharmed. The eel, which weighs up to 100kg and has a head the size of a football, is chomping through trout at Tommy Finn's Trout Farm at a worrying rate. Wales said he believes the eel was washed into the trout farm during Melbourne's wettest day ever earlier this month. Melbour-ne Aquarium curator Nick Kirby said long-finned eels grow in proportion to the amount they eat.

■ Thailand

Monk glues eyes shut

Thai doctors have restored the sight of an elderly Buddhist monk who accidently glued his eyes shut when he mistook a tube of super glue for eyedrops, a news report said yesterday. During a two-hour operation on Tuesday, doctors at Angthong Hospital restored sight in the right eye of 81-year-old Monk Prapatwor-akhun. Last week, the monk accidently applied super glue taken from his temple's drug cabinet to his eyes thinking it was a tube of eyedrop solution, The Nation newspaper reported. His eyes were immediately glued shut after the mistake occurred on Feb. 17 in Angthong, 180km north of Bangkok. Eye specialist Doctor Banjob Nimitporn-sukho said they had used an acetone solvent to remove the glue from the monk's right eye without harming the cornea and would perform a similar operation today on the left eye that was still sealed.

■ Malaysia

State to build `happy toilets'

A Malaysian state plans to build new public toilets equipped with soft, background music and newspapers for people to enjoy while using the bathroom. Officials announced that "Happy and Healthy Toilets" would be installed in popular spots in the northeastern state of Kelantan, the Star daily reported yesterday. State public administration official Takiyuddin Hassan said the toilets, to be completed within three months, would have soothing music as well newspapers pasted on the doors. "This would make it interesting for the user to spend more time in the toilet, reading something interesting. This way, he would appreciate toilets and make it a point to ensure the cleanliness of such areas because he is sure to make a repeat visit," Takiyuddin was quoted as saying. He said if the public did not take efforts to maintain the conditions of the toilets, the public toilets would still end up being "dirty and nauseating."

■ Iran

Quake toll rises to 420

Relief efforts intensified yesterday in southeastern Iran following the 6.4-magnitude earthquake that struck the area on Tuesday, leaving at least 420 people dead and more than 1,000 injured, news reports said. Many victims of the disaster spent the cold winter night in tents or in the open, the reports said. The epicenter of the quake was in Kerman province, near the city of Zerand, which has 130,000 residents. Local residents said about 20 villages were destroyed. The Iranian army provided helicopters for relief operations and transport planes were dispatched to fly in needed supplies. The Iranian news agency IRNA reported that rescue operations were hampered by heavy rains.

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