Monks exorcise high school
A high school in the central province of Bolikhamsay reported that on April 25 a girl began shaking uncontrollably in her classroom. On seeing her, 21 others began to exhibit similar symptoms, while the next day 14 more girls were similarly affected as they were walking into the school, according to the Vientiane Times. An ambulance was called and several girls were taken to the provincial hospital, where authorities could not establish the cause of the fits. The school was closed for the rest of the week, and monks were brought in to bless it "to get rid of evil spirits, as local residents believed that spirits were the cause of the strange phenomenon," the newspaper said.
Kids' population falling
The number of children in the country has fallen for 25 years in a row, bringing their ratio to the total population to a record low, according to a government survey. Children aged 14 or younger numbered 17,470,000 as of April 1, down by 180,000 from a year earlier and an annual drop for the 25th consecutive year, the Ministry of Internal Affairs said in the survey released on Thursday. The ratio of children edged down by 0.1 percentage point to 13.7 percent, a record low and drop for the 32nd straight year, the ministry said.
Finder gets to keep cash
A Japanese waste disposal company that found almost US$275,000 in a consignment of industrial waste can keep the money, police said yesterday after six months of investigations failed to find the owner. "The finder gets the money half a year later if it is unknown who lost it. This general rule applies to this case," said an official at Tokorozawa Police Station, north of Tokyo. A company employee found the bundles of yen notes when he was separating rubbish in October. Local media said six people had come forward to claim the money, but none of them could prove it was theirs.
■ Sri Lanka
Meat display banned
The government announced a ban on the open display of meat in markets to coincide with the 2,550th anniversary of Buddha's death. "We have decided to stop the selling of animal flesh in stalls openly displaying it to the public,'' government spokesman Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said on Thursday. Buddhism, which teaches that animals should not be killed, is followed by many of the nation's majority ethnic Sinhalese. Yapa said markets would still be able to sell meat, and the ban on its display would mainly affect shops in urban areas and along the country's main roads.
■ United Kingdom
Man arrested for murder
A 21-year-old man was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of murdering teenager Terry Edmonds, whose body was discovered last week in a suitcase in a supermarket car park in the prosperous town of Royal Tunbridge Wells. Kent police said the local man was being questioned by detectives over the death of 17-year-old Edmonds who was strangled. Police say they believe she was also sexually assaulted. A police spokeswoman said the man was the third person to be arrested over Edmonds' murder. Two people have already been released without charge.
■ United Kingdom
Elderly woman expecting
A 63-year-old hospital consultant who is to become one of the world's oldest mothers after undergoing fertility treatment abroad told reporters on Thursday she was delighted with her pregnancy. Patricia Rashbrook, a child psychologist from Lewes, East Sussex in southeast England, and her 61-year-old husband John Farrant posed briefly for photographers and camera crews outside their home. "We take our responsibilities very seriously and regard the best interest of the child as paramount. What we would wish now is to be allowed the right to pursue our family life in private," the couple said in a statement.