Captain `lacked training'
The captain of a sunken tanker that has created the country's worst ever oil spill was not properly trained to pilot the ship, a Manila newspaper claimed yesterday. The findings of a preliminary investigation into the Aug. 11 disaster by the Maritime Industry Authority showed the tanker captain did not have "advance training on oil tanker operations" according to a report in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. According to the Inquirer, the authority found that the tanker's captain, Norberto Aguro, "did not have advance training on oil tanker operations."
Naked women plow for rain
Dozens of women stripped naked and plowed their fields in west Nepal, hoping to appease the gods and get some much needed rain, a newspaper report said yesterday. About 50 women in two villages in Kapilvastu District, 190km west of Kathmandu, resorted to the desperate move at night on Friday as days of prayers failed to bring rains for the parched paddy crop, it said. "This is our last weapon," the Rajdhani quoted one of the women as saying.
Protesters take to streets
Thousands of protesters demonstrating against rises in the prices of gasoline, diesel and cooking fuel clashed with police, blocked traffic and vandalized government vehicles in the capital yesterday. Police used batons to beat protesters who gathered at three locations in Kathmandu while at least half a dozen government motorcycles and cars were torched by the protesters. Protesting drivers blocked the Prithvi highway, the main route to Kathmandu, cutting off most trans-portation to the capital.
■ United Kingdom
Woman opts for green travel
It's a dilemma for a dedicated environmental activist: your friend is getting married in Australia, you're in Britain, what do you do? Travel overland to avoid carbon emissions from aircraft, of course. Barbara "Babs" Haddrill, 28, is doing just that, undertaking a six-week trip from mid-Wales to Brisbane by train, bus and boat for bridesmaid duties in a homemade dress before heading back using the same means. "I feel like I have devoted myself to doing what I can to reduce my impact on the environment," she wrote on her blog, babs2brisbane.blogspot.com. "If I flew to Australia I would negate everything I have done for the last six years and that would seem sad."
71 militants killed
Afghan forces aided by NATO aircraft and artillery killed 71 suspected Taliban militants in running battles in southern Afghanistan that also left five Afghan troops dead in one of the bloodiest clashes since the 2001 US-led invasion. The insurgents were killed in a series of clashes which started on Saturday and spilled into yesterday morning following a militant attack in Panjwayi district of southern Kandahar Province, said Niaz Mohammad Sarhadi, the district chief. A purported Taliban spokesman said 12 insurgents were killed and eight were wounded. Afghanistan's southern provinces are bearing the brunt of the worst bout of violence to have rocked the country as insurgents try to undermine the authority of President Hamid Karzai.
■ Hong Kong
BA warns staff of bar
British Airways (BA) has banned its staff from drinking at a popular bar after stewardesses were slipped a date-rape drug while drinking there, a media report said yesterday. The ban follows a warning to the British flag-carrier's 13,000 staff last November about the threat of drinks being spiked with the tranquillizer Rohypnol while drinking off-duty in unsavory bars. The Sunday Morning Post, citing sources, said the airline was concerned about one popular unnamed bar in the seedy Wanchai district following complaints from four stewardesses that they felt unwell after visiting it in the past year.