Quake kills one in Yunnan
One person was killed and 31 injured by a moderate earthquake that struck southwestern China, toppling buildings and forcing thousands of people from their homes, state media reported yesterday. More than 1,500 houses were destroyed when the quake, measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale, struck the counties of Yanjin, Daguan, Yiliang and Suijiang in Yunnan Province at midday on Friday, Xinhua news agency quoted the Ministry of Civil Affairs as saying. It said that 10 of the injured were in serious condition, and added that 45,520 people had been relocated. "Many houses collapsed and water, electricity, communication and transport facilities have been damaged," Xinhua quoted a ministry notice as saying. Officials had sent tents, food and medicine to the quake zone, it said.
Auditor dies of `gluttony'
A 25-year-old auditor apparently ate and drank himself to death while he was supposed to be inspecting a government department, a state newspaper said yesterday. Zhang Hongtao went to many banquets organized by a power company in Hebei Province in April, and instead of working did little else but eat, drink, play cards and enjoy massages, the official China Daily said. He collapsed and died following one of the banquets, after which "his team and two officials from the electricity bureau traveled for a sightseeing tour around east China," the report said. "Zhang's colleagues said most of them were too upset over the death to stay in the office, so they went to Yangzhou to relax," it added. The National Auditors' Office said the incident had "marred the image and influenced the public's trust" in the government body.
Cheap AIDS drug to be sold
US pharmaceutical firm Gilead is set to begin selling its AIDS-fighting tenofovir drug in Thailand at a price about 90 percent cheaper than in the US and Europe, activists said yesterday. Thailand's Food and Drug Administration approved tenofovir for sale at about 38 baht (US$1) per tablet, and the drug should be available next month, the AIDS Access Foundation said. "The new drug would be a good alternative for AIDS patients, especially those who have become resistant to GPO-Vir, which is made by the Government Pharmaceutical Organization," foundation director Nimit Tienudom said.
Religious conference opens
Religious leaders from around the world gathered for a conference in western Japan yesterday to discuss building peace and how to prevent conflicts from breaking out, an organizer said. The eighth assembly of the World Conference of Religion for Peace kicked off in Kyoto, with about 2,000 people from 100 countries and regions attending for four-day event, according to Nobuo Kinoshita, a spokesman for the organizer. Those attending include more than 500 religious leaders from 70 countries, according to Kinoshita. Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said that the global community must work as one to overcome religious differences to tackle today's global issues.
Police hold anti-terror drill
Border forces from China and Kazakhstan held an anti-terrorism drill yesterday with armed helicopters and anti-riot vehicles, state media reported. The exercise by some 700 border police included a simulated battle in which Chinese guards were supposed to force terrorists into a narrow valley and cliff caves near Yining, a Chinese city near the Central Asian border with Kazakhstan, the Xinhua News Agency, newspapers and state television said. The two-hour drill was held under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a six-nation Central Asian group led by China and Russia that is meant to combat Islamic extremism.