Blast toll rises by one
The death toll from a massive chemical explosion in Mile County, Yunnan Province, on Monday rose by one to 12. Forty-three people were injured in the blast, while two others are still listed as missing. Truck driver Li Hongwen parked his cargo truck, laden with 16.3 tonnes of nitramine, a highly volatile chemical used for detonators in explosives, near his home on Monday instead of delivering it to a chemical warehouse as he was expected to do. What caused Li's truck to explode is still under investigation.
Mistress complains of scam
A woman who hired a "hitman" over the Internet to murder her lover's pregnant wife has been arrested -- after she complained to police that he never carried out the killing despite being paid US$136,000. Police arrested Eriko Kawaguchi, a 32-year-old rescuer at Tokyo Fire Department, as well as 40-year-old Koji Tabe, a self-proclaimed detective who allegedly promised to kill the woman with a deadly chemical. Kawaguchi found Tabe's phone number on "contract murder" Web sites in January and asked him to kill her lover's wife after learning the woman was pregnant. She paid Tabe but then went to the police in July to complain about being scammed because Tabe had not yet carried out the killing.
Police rescue grocer
A woman grocer held captive by a gang of kidnappers for more than a year has been rescued by security forces after a firefight in the southern Philippines. Police clashed with the gang of about 30 kidnappers near the town of Datu Odin Sinsuat in Mindanao island on Tuesday leading to the rescue of 53 year-old Zuela Kansi. Kansi was unhurt and there were no immediate reports of casualties on either side, a police report said, adding that the suspects escaped.
■ Hong Kong
Woman sues over Rolex rash
A woman has sued Rolex, alleging that a watch she bought caused her psychological trauma because she had to wear long sleeves to cover up an itchy, unsightly skin allergy triggered by a label on the underside of the luxury timepiece. Lee Ka-wai filed her claim in the Small Claims Tribunal, seeking HK$46,900 (US$6,044) in damages. She purchased the HK$30,000 Rolex Oyster Perpetual in August last year. Lee said the skin allergy -- scratchy red dots -- was caused by a removable label on the back of the watch. She didn't remove the label because she was afraid she would lose Rolex's worldwide guarantee or sacrifice proof of the watch's authenticity. "Rolex should have mentioned it in the manual or asked its agent to remind customers to remove the label," Lee said.
■ Hong Kong
Bruce Lee fans want help
Bruce Lee fans yesterday urged the Hong Kong government to help pay for a bronze statue to mark the martial arts movie legend's 65th birthday in November. The Bruce Lee Club has the government's approval to erect a 2.5m statue on the Avenue of Stars -- a tourist attraction that honors the territory's film stars -- along the city's harbor front, said a member of the club's committee, adding that the club has only raised half of the US$155,000 needed for the statue's construction, installation, insurance and publicity launch. The club appealed to the government to donate some money, but said officials had declined so far.
■ South Africa
Beached whale blown up
Marine biologists used explosives to kill an 11-ton whale helplessly beached on Mnandi Beach on Cape Town's False Bay coast, after several attempts to move it failed. Mike Meyer of Marine and Coastal Management told reporters that the two-year-old whale had become stranded in shallow water after an apparent "navigational error ... In this case the animal made a mistake ... it wasn't a sick animal, it went too close to shore and got caught out." It is whale breeding season along the Cape coast at the moment.
Solar plant goes ahead
Work on the world's largest solar energy station, which will produce enough electricity to power 21,000 homes, is set to start near the southern town of Moura next year. The 62-megawatt plant, which will use 350,000 solar panels spread over an area the size of 150 football pitches, represents a leap forward for solar energy as it moves out of small-scale use into producing electricity in large quantities. The US$305 million Girassol plant will be 12 times the size of the biggest solar power plant now in operation near Leipzig, Germany.
Medium solves mystery
In a country where plaster Madonnas weep blood, even miracle-hardened Italians have been taken aback by the affair of the medium and the body in the lake. The body of Chiara Beriffi, who disappeared three years ago, was found in her car in Lake Como in precisely the area indicated by a medium, Maria Rosa Busi, who had been approached for help in March. A police source said it was a "million to one chance" that the vehicle would be found in the area marked by Busi. Divers initially balked at the venture because the spot identified by Busi was 150m from shore. Detectives were trying to work out how the four-wheel drive came to be so far from the lakeside. Since Sunday, when volunteer divers found the car, the case has been debated on radio, TV and in magazines.
Protest over race killing
Dozens of students protested in St. Petersburg over rising racism on Wednesday after one of their classmates died following an attack they believe was racially motivated. Epassak Rolan Franz from Congo died on Wednesday in hospital after failing to recover from injuries he received when he was attacked on Friday last week. Prosecutors said there was no evidence yet that the attack on Franz had been racist, but the protesters saw it as the latest in a string of racist murders in the city.
Men can't cope
Nearly half of all German men feel overwhelmed by the twin burdens of succeeding in their career and bringing up their children, according to a survey by the Gewis institute conducted for a Munich-based magazine. The survey found that both men and women believed fathers should devote time to their children during the week as well as at the weekend. Good fathers had to play a role during the working week, 77 percent of women and 65 percent of men said. Around 22 percent of women said their men paid little attention to the children. Almost 60 percent of men said their wives paid more attention to the children and neglected them as a result.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable