Earthquakes rock east
Two strong earthquakes rocked Indonesia's eastern province of Maluku on yesterday, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties, the local Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said. The first quake of magnitude-6.4 struck just about 40 minutes after midnight while the second, measuring 6.0 magnitude came at 7:40am, said Benny Sipollo of the Agency's office in Ambon. He said the first quake was centered beneath the 7,500m-deep Banda Sea, about 245km northwest of Ambon and the second was only 10km farther, both with the same depth of about 225km under the seabed.
■ North Korea
Fowl culled in bird flu scare
Hundreds of thousands of chickens were culled yesterday, as state media confirmed an outbreak of deadly bird flu in the communist state for the first time. The North's official Korean Central News Agency quoted quarantine authorities as reporting bird flu cases at up to three chicken farms in the capital Pyongyang. "The bird flu has recently broken out at two to three chicken farms, including Hadang farm," KCNA said in a Korean-language dispatch monitored by Yonhap news agency. It did not specify the date. Hadang is one of the five largest chicken farms in Pyongyang. KCNA said state health and quarantine officials "have buried and burnt hundreds of thousands of infected chickens at those farms" to prevent the avian influenza from spreading to other areas.
■ Hong Kong
Things thrown out window
A man was arrested and checked for mental illness after he emptied his 35th-floor apartment by dropping its contents from the window, police and media said yesterday. No one was reported injured by the falling objects. The Apple Daily said the man was upset because he had recently broken up with his girlfriend. Newspapers ran pictures showing the ground near the apartment building littered with pots, books, a broken electric fan and other items. Apple Daily published a photo showing a falling mattress. "He tossed whatever was in his apartment," said police spokesman Edwin Hung. By the time the man was done, all that was left inside was his air conditioner, refrigerator, washer and large pieces of furniture, the Apple Daily said.
Purchase of US F-16s mulled
The government is considering buying American F-16 fighter jets for its air force, a news report said yesterday, just days after New Delhi protested a US decision to sell the same aircraft to India's neighboring arch-rival, Pakistan. India's air force now depends mainly on aging Russian planes. US fighter aircraft and weapons' manufacturers "are willing to work with us and they have submitted some proposals to us," the Press Trust of India news agency quoted Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee as saying in the eastern city of Calcutta.
■ Hong Kong
Flights may cause cancer
Airline Cathay Pacific has limited air crews' flights on the non-stop Hong Kong-New York route after it was found the journey could increase the likelihood of cancer, a report said yesterday. Staff of the British-owned, Hong Kong-based airline say they have been limited to just two of the ultra long-haul flights per month since it was found the route exposed passengers and crew to high levels of cosmic radiation when they flew over the North Pole.
Israeli, Palestinian in love
A teenage Israeli soldier who disappeared on holiday and was feared kidnapped by her worried parents, has run off with her Palestinian boyfriend, police said. The 18-year-old conscript, from the town of Kiryat Malachi, south of Tel Aviv, disappeared several days ago while on leave from military service. Her panicked father rang the police but his daughter later phoned home with the news she was shacked up with her Palestinian lover. The Romeo, known to the girl's parents, had told them he was Tunisian. The young couple are thought to be lying low in the West Bank.