Pilgrims die in accident
A ferry packed with dozens of people going home for an Islamic festival capsized yesterday in a river in central Bangladesh after hitting a cargo boat, killing at least 15 people, an official said. Several passengers were still missing, the area's chief government administrator, Mohammad Moniruddin, said from the site of the accident. Rescuers recovered the bodies of four children, 10 women and one man from the sunken ferry, said local police chief Tofazzal Hossain. Rescuers were searching for the missing passengers, he said. The ferry, carrying about 70 people, sank in the Meghna River in Munshiganj district, 32km southeast of Dhaka.
Martial law to remain
The military-installed government said yesterday it will maintain martial law because supporters of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra still intend to create political chaos. "As long as the situation remains not calm, martial law cannot be lifted," Defense Minister General Boonrawd Somtat told reporters. "If there are no political undercurrents, the opportunity to lift martial law will come faster."
By-elections boost Abe
The government yesterday hailed its first electoral victory under new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as a strong vote for his handling of the North Korean nuclear crisis and regional diplomatic efforts. Abe saw his ruling Liberal Democratic Party cruise to victory in two weekend by-elections in Osaka and in Kanagawa, a prefecture west of Tokyo.
Dengue spread slowing
Cooling weather in the north of the country appears to have slowed the spread of dengue fever, a mosquito-borne disease that has killed at least 125 people in the past two months, news reports said. Only 56 cases of the disease were reported in New Delhi hospitals over the past 24 hours, a drop from the average of 80 a day seen in the past week, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.
Volcano belches ash
A volatile volcano in the eastern province of Sorsogon spewed a column of ash 1km high in a sudden explosion yesterday, covering four villages in soot. Villagers were warned of further dangerous activity from Mount Bulusan, which has already belched giant clouds of smoke and ash twice this month. Yesterday, the ash drifted on to homes southeast and southwest of the 1,565m volcano, according to the government's vulcanology bureau. Residents around Bulusan were advised to take precautions.
Ministry bans magazine
Authorities have banned a magazine for publishing articles about how men can improve their sexual performance, the third publication shut by government censors in a week. Officials at the Ministry of Culture and Information said yesterday they closed a business magazine named Kinh Doanh Va San Pham (Business and Products) and were considering revoking the press credentials of its reporters and editors. The magazine, owned by the Vietnam Alliance of Cooperatives, incurred the wrath of government officials by publishing a series of articles describing how men can improve their sexual performance and increase the pleasure of their partners. "They are supposed to write about business and production, not about sex," Vice Minister Do Quy Doan said.
Crocs scare off swimmers
Bathers were banished from several popular beaches in the northeast yesterday after two large crocodiles were spotted near swimming areas, officials said. A fisherman reported seeing two of the deadly reptiles, each measuring between 2m and 3m, swimming near a beach in the Queensland town of Townsville on Sunday. Lifeguards in the area confirmed that the crocs had been spotted -- the first such sighting of the beasts on beaches in the area -- and quickly closed the beaches until at least today. "I thought somebody was pulling my leg when I first heard it, but it's fair dinkum," Townsville Mayor Tony Mooney told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.