Torrent of water kills 35
At least 35 people returning from a pilgrimage in Pakistan were killed when the tractor-trolley they were in was swept away by a torrent of water gushing down a hill, police said yesterday. Up to 10 others were missing after the vehicle was swept away late on Friday in central Dera Ghazi Khan, some 80km west of Multan, senior police officer Salman Chaudhary said. "We have found bodies of 35 people, mostly women and children, who met the accident late Friday," he said.
Two teenagers were found guilty yesterday of murdering two Thai-born prostitutes who were bound and thrown alive into a crocodile-infested river in northern Australia. A jury unanimously convicted Ben William McLean and Phu Ngoc Trinh, both 19, on two counts of murder each over the deaths of the women, who were based in the Northern Territory capital of Darwin. They were both given mandatory life sentences, with a non-parole period to be set in May. The trial heard that sex workers Phuangsri Kroksamrang, 58, and Somjai Insamnan, 27, were bound with cable ties and thrown alive into the Adelaide River in March last year.
Pandas to be microchipped
The government will implant microchips in its captive panda population in a bid to improve protection and prevent inbreeding among the endangered species, state media said yesterday. Data such as age and pedigree will be stored and used together with the implanted chips in a nationwide operation later this year, Xinhua news agency quoted a State Forestry Administration official as saying. The information stored on the chips will improve the managed reproduction program and help trace the bears once they are returned to the wild, the unnamed official said. At the end of last year, China had 163 pandas in captivity and an estimated 1,590 in the wild.
Hungry wolves attack
At least four Afghans have been devoured by wolves driven down from the hills in search of food during the worst winter in a decade, family members said yesterday. Villagers in Naka, a remote settlement in southeastern Paktia province, found little more than remains and bloodied, shredded clothes when they went looking for 27-year-old Sher Gull and Gull Nawaz, 32. "They had planned to go to another village to participate in a funeral ceremony. We are sure they were killed by wolves," Sher Gull's grieving father Haje Baz Khan said in his mud-brick house. Two other people from the mountainous Mosa Khel district of neighboring Khost province were also killed by wolves, locals said.
Princess weds commoner
The only daughter of Japan's Emperor Akihito, Princess Sayako, was formally engaged to an urban planner yesterday following a traditional ceremony held at the imperial palace. Dressed in a long, white dress embroidered with cherry blossoms, the 35-year-old princess, accompanied by Akihito and Empress Michiko, accepted a marriage proposal from commoner Yoshiki Kuroda, the royal household said. Sayako is due to marry her 39-year-old fiance, who works at the Tokyo metropolitan government, later this year. After the ceremony, Sayako said: "I would like to express my deep gratitude to both the emperor and the empress for blessing us." The families exchanged gifts of sea bream, three bottles of sake and two sets of silk, the official said.