Thirty-one still missing
Rescuers have found two survivors and four bodies after a Panamanian freighter sank off China's southeastern coast with 37 people aboard, state television reported yesterday. Another 31 sailors were still missing following the sinking on Thursday off Pingtan Island in Fujian Province, China Central Television reported on its midday newscast. No details of the identities or nationalities of the dead or survivors were announced. The Hengda 1 sank after hitting a reef in stormy weather, according to the government. A rescue official said earlier that the ship was bound for Indonesia with a cargo of seafood.
Star gets jail for slaying deer
Bollywood film star, Salman Khan, has been sentenced to a year in jail for killing two rare deer, his lawyer said on Friday. A court in the western desert state of Rajasthan, where Khan shot the black buck, a protected species, in 1998 also slapped a fine of 5,000 rupees (US$112.5) on the star, known for his wild tantrums. Khan's lawyer, Hastimal Saraswat, said his client had indicated he would appeal the ruling to a higher court and was freed on a one-month bond. The black buck is revered as a sacred animal by the people of Rajasthan.
Police on full alert
The 117,000-strong police force has been put on full alert nationwide due to a new coup plot against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and planned protests by groups seeking her ouster, a police official said yesterday. The red-alert status went into force on Friday night, requiring at least two-thirds of police personnel to be on standby, said police spokesman Senior Superintendent Samuel Pagdilao Jr. Arroyo met with the military's top brass at the presidential palace on Thursday to discuss security threats, including what a general described as a new coup plot against her by disgruntled soldiers.
■ South Korea
Uri Party selects new chair
Former Unification Minister Chung Dong-young was elected yesterday as the new chairman of the ruling Uri Party, securing the upper hand to become the party's candidate in next year's presidential election. Chung, who served as the government's point man on North Korea until December, received 4,450 votes, followed by his rival, former Health Minister Kim Geun-tae, with 3,847 votes at the party's annual convention. Chung, 53, will guide the party through local elections in May that will serve as a key indicator for its chances in next year's election to succeed President Roh Moo-hyun, whose single five-year term expires in February 2008.
■ Hong Kong
Boy dies in suitcase
A Chinese man and his Japanese wife were charged with the murder of their 10-year-old son yesterday after locking him in a suitcase, Hong Kong police said. The couple called the police on Thursday after they discovered the boy was unconscious. When officers arrived, the boy was in a coma. He was rushed to hospital and died early yesterday morning, after which the man, 49, and woman, 35, were charged with murder. It was not immediately known how long the boy had been locked inside the 1.22m by 0.61m suitcase that police found in the couple's apartment.
Ex-hostage returns to Iraq
Germany's Foreign Minister said on Friday former hostage Susanne Osthoff had returned to Iraq against his ministry's advice two months after it had helped win her release, and urged the archeologist to get out of Iraq. "I have learned it has been confirmed that she is again in Iraq," Frank-Walter Steinmeier said of Osthoff, 43, who was seized on Nov. 25 by gunmen and then released in December. "I can only hope that she leaves Iraq again as soon as possible." Osthoff, who converted to Islam and lived in Iraq, was seized heading north from Baghdad by gunmen who threatened in a videotape to kill her and her driver unless Germany ended all support for the Iraqi government.