Typhoon makes landfall
The most powerful typhoon to hit the country in eight years bore down on the northern island of Luzon yesterday, slamming into coastal regions with high winds and heavy rain, officials and witnesses said. The weather bureau said Typhoon Cimaron was packing winds of about 195kph, with gusts up to 230kph. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who is visiting China, urged residents in northern provinces to stay at home and prepare for the worst.
Two blasts leave 26 dead
Two accidents in Xinjiang Province on Saturday killed 26 workers, 14 of them in a coal mine blast and 12 in an explosion at an oil storage facility, state media reported yesterday. An explosion trapped the 14 men in a state-run mine 30km outside the provincial capital, Urumqi. Intense heat prevented rescuers from reaching them for more than seven hours, the official Xinhua news agency reported. The other blast killed 12 workers cleaning a crude oil storage tank at a facility belonging to China National Petroleum Co outside the city of Karamay, Xinhua and state television reported.
PM says troops innocent
Prime Minister John Howard and military chiefs yesterday denied allegations that Australian peacekeeping troops were responsible for the deaths of two men during street violence in East Timor. They dismissed the claims made in a report in Dili's main newspaper, Suara Timor-Leste. At least five people have been killed in fighting blamed on rival gangs in East Timor recently, but the newspaper said two men whose bodies were found on Friday were killed by Australian forces.
Two arrested in airline scam
Two men have been arrested over a scam which duped hundreds of Malaysians into applying for nonexistent jobs as flight attendants with Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific, a report said yesterday. Some 800 hopefuls responded to an advertisement promising salaries of US$3,000, but suspicions arose when short-listed candidates were asked to fork over 5,500 ringgit (US$1,508) for registration and training. The two men were busted after police, in the guise of job-seekers, arranged for interviews.
Communist rebels were set to extend their ceasefire yesterday, pledging to continue peace negotiations with the government. Dev Gurung, a member of the Maoist rebel peace talks team, said the group would meet within a day to decide whether the ceasefire would be extended for three more months or indefinitely. The rebels declared a three-month ceasefire in April, and began peace talks with the government. The truce was extended in July by another three months, which ended yesterday.
■ Hong Kong
Hundreds want last ride
Hundreds of people have bought tickets for four rides on the historic Star Ferry that plies across Victoria Harbor to mark the end of the existing Hong Kong Island ferry pier. People started lining up from 5am on Saturday to buy the 1,800 tickets, which cost about US$11 went on sale six-and-a half hours later, the South China Morning Post said. Ticket proceeds will be donated to charity. The special tickets were for four final cross-harbor trips at 12am on Nov. 11 to mark the end of the 49-year old ferry pier, which is being dem-olished as part of a reclama-tion scheme to create new land for rail and road links.