■ CambodiaTransvestite maimed
Two unidentified Japanese men chopped off the penis of a transvestite they mistook for a woman with whom they wanted to have sex. The victim, a bar worker who liked to dress and act as a female, was on his way to work when two Japanese men invited him to have sex for US$20, apparently believing he was a woman. Discovering he wasn't, the two grabbed a knife and cut off his penis, before fleeing in a car. A staff member of Phnom Penh's Calmette Hospital confirmed yesterday that 18-year-old Heng Ya was receiving treatment after his sex organ was completely severed.
Massive snowfall hits
Heavy snowfall in a remote mountainous part of southwestern Tibet has claimed the life of at least one person and left 2,481 injured, mostly with frostbite. The massive snowfall has also killed 24,000 head of livestock in 10 counties where animal husbandry forms an essential part of the local economy. Tibetan government departments have allocated US$2.2 million for disaster relief in the area around Shigatse city. The central government has earmarked another four million US$480,000 to ensure affected herdsmen have enough food for the rest of the winter.
Forest fires under control
Heavy thundershowers brought some relief early yesterday from heat and smoke billowing from forest fires in Malaysia, but air quality remained unhealthy and residents were warned to curtail outdoor activities. The blazes in six Malaysian states including Selangor -- which surrounds Kuala Lumpur -- are now under control, with many already doused, said local Government Minister Ong Ka Ting. "Until the air quality improves, schools should halt all outdoor extracurricular activities and postpone sports meets," Ong said. Forest fires often break out in the region during dry spells due to fires set as an illegal land-clearing method, or to carelessly discarded cigarettes.
Cyclone batters island
Cyclone Percy tore across the Pacific island group of Tokelau, causing widespread damage and injuring one person. In Tokelau, a New Zealand protectorate of 1,400 people, the storm caused widespread damage. Winds of 200kph swept across Tokelau and were expected to build to 230kph in the next 24 hours. The atoll's only school was largely destroyed as the storm tore down trees, power and telephone lines. Residents in the immediate coastal area fled inland or were evacuated to stronger houses. Percy is the fourth storm in a month to hit the South Pacific.
Longest tunnel completed
The world's longest land tunnel was completed in Japan yesterday when the last bedrock was blasted away to open the 26.5km route, developers said. However the railway tunnel in the Hakkoda mountains, 550km north of Tokyo, was only expected to keep the record for a few months since longer tunnels in Switzerland and Spain are near completion. It will take several more years before the Japanese tunnel's interior is reinforced with concrete and rail tracks are laid. The Hakkoda tunnel, near Aomori city on the northern tip of Japan's main island of Honshu, will be used for an extension of Japan's Shinkansen (bullet train) service due to open in 2010. It overtakes the 25.8km Iwate Ichinohe tunnel on the same line as the world's longest land tunnel.
Nuclear fuel deal inked