Pakistani killed in shootout
Police killed a Pakistani man and injured another during a shootout in central Mumbai yesterday, as the pair were being investigated for possible links to last month's rail bombings that killed more than 200 people. Lead police investigator K.P. Raghuvanshi said the two Pakistanis opened fire on police in an abandoned building early yesterday. Automatic rifles were recovered from them, he said.
Wrong virus blamed
A deadly virus that has claimed nearly 90 lives this year in the Gorakhpur region in Uttar Pradesh state was not Japanese encephalitis as originally thought but another illness, officials said yesterday. The state's top health official B. Nath said 28 of the 31 samples tested positive for Coxsackie-B virus, which causes high fever and diarrhea among children. More than 1,450 children died of Japanese encephalitis in Uttar Pradesh last year and hundreds more were left disabled. More than 6 million children in the state were vaccinated against the illness this year in a bid to prevent a similar outbreak. The Coxsackie virus spreads through contaminated food or water and there is no vaccine against it. Japanese encephalitis is a mosquito-borne viral disease.
The number of births in the first six months of the year rose for the first time in six years, raising hopes for a turnaround in the plunging annual birthrate, officials said yesterday. A total 549,255 births were registered from the first of the year to the end of June, up 11,618 from the same period last year, according to Health Ministry statistics released on Monday.
Humans not passing bird flu
Investigators found no proof that bird flu is spreading among humans in a remote part of Java where two people died from the virus and a third was sickened, the WHO said yesterday. Four other people died in the Cikelet region of West Java before swab samples were taken to determine the cause, according to local health officials. Test results are pending for five others receiving medical treatment for symptoms of the disease, including a 61-year-old man admitted to hospital early yesterday. "Though some of the undiagnosed deaths occurred in family members of confirmed cases, the investigation has found no evidence of human-to-human transmission and no evidence that the virus is spreading more easily from birds to humans," the WHO statement said.
Chili used in prison break
Prisoners squirted a mixture of water and chili peppers in the eyes of guards at a prison then bolted for freedom past their temporarily blinded captors, police said yesterday. Eighteen prisoners broke out of the jail in Pematang Sinatar on Sumatra on Sunday, but 16 of them have since been apprehended, local police detective Den Martin said. The men were on the way to the canteen for breakfast when they stormed the prison gates shouting "Attack! Attack!" and spraying the fiery liquid from plastic bottles at guards, Martin said. "The is the first time chili has been used to get out of this penitentiary," prison warden Harianaja was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Post.
Hitler restaurant slammed
A new restaurant called Hitler's Cross in Mumbai drew condemnation yesterday from the city's small Jewish community, which said it would appeal to the owners to change the name. The eatery has a huge poster of Adolf Hitler prominently displayed at the entrance and is decorated by Nazi swastika symbols. "The Jews are very disturbed by the enormity of the ignorance and the insensitivity" displayed, said Jonathan Solomon of the Indian Jewish Federation. "We believe it is an act of ignorance rather than deliberate malice," he said. The restaurant owner said he had not realized the Nazi theme would upset people.