Prank triggers stampede
Eight children were killed and 45 injured when students yelling "ghost" sparked a stampede on a darkened elementary school staircase in Sichuan Province, officials said yesterday. The accident occurred on Tuesday evening in the school in Guangna Township when someone shouted "ghosts are coming" as students filed out of their evening classes. A local official said that as the students rushed down the stairs, one fell down and a surge of others stumbled over him, unable to stop as more students pushed from above.
Authorities have torn down a memorial honoring Vietnamese refugees who died fleeing communist rule, an official said yesterday, after Vietnam demanded its removal. Former refugees living in the US and Australia erected a marble plaque in March on Bidong island, where 250,000 Vietnamese arrived in fishing boats after communists took over South Vietnam in 1975. "The plaque was built illegally without the state government's consent," said a local official.
Bad shot fined
A man who twice missed while trying to shoot a friend's cow only to accidentally shoot a passer-by in the leg was fined A$1,000 (US$750) yesterday by the Brisbane District Court. In April last year, Rudolf Stadler, 61, lured the cow to a shed, and then took aim with his rifle. He missed. He fired again and missed but the bullet went through the back of the shed, a fence across a paddock and then through the door of a car being driven along a road behind the farm. The bullet hit 46-year-old Carrie Tunning in the leg. Tunning made a full recovery.
Court ponders devices
Malaysia is considering ordering witnesses in court cases to wear electronic monitoring devices on their ankles to ensure they turn up to testify, a report said yesterday. The proposal comes after the recent highly-publicized murder trial of a 14-year-old Chinese national, which ended in the acquittal of all three accused after two witnesses failed to appear. The proposal will be submitted to the Cabinet next month and, if it is accepted, the bracelets could also be used to keep tabs on those accused of minor offences such as theft, instead of holding them on remand.
Pilot whales stranded
A third pod of whales stranded themselves yesterday on a remote southern Australian beach even as wildlife officials and about 100 volunteers struggled to keep the earlier survivors afloat. More than 130 pilot whales had died in Marion Bay in the southern island state of Tasmania in the previous 24 hours, and only about a dozen had been saved. Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman Liz Wren said that most of the whales were dead before rescuers arrived on Tuesday because Marion Bay, although only 60km from Hobart, is isolated and easily reachable only by boat.
Philippine troops and police yesterday captured eight suspected Muslim militants, including the leader of an Islamic convert group linked to past terror attacks and the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah group, officials said. Hilarion del Rosario III, the alleged leader of the Rajah Solaiman Revolutionary Movement, was arrested with seven other militants while they were sleeping in a hideout in southern Zamboanga city, the officials said. They said the arrests thwarted bombing plots by the group. Authorities also recovered a rifle, anti-tank rounds and other weapons, they said. The military planned to announce details of the arrest of del Rosario, also known as Akhmad Santos, later yesterday.