Lesbian hotline opened
The country has opened its first hotline for lesbians following the success of a service for gay men, state media reported yesterday. The free hotline, launched this week, operates in Shanghai, the free-wheeling financial center where social change has outpaced the rest of the country. The new line, staffed by trained counselors, would provide "real help" for lesbians, Xinhua news agency said. "Many lesbians in China are pressured into marrying men and end up living miserable lives," sociologist Li Yinhe was quoted as saying.
Yellow River runs red
Waste water contaminated with dye that was discharged into a section of China's Yellow River has turned it red for the second time in a month, state media reported yesterday. China's second-largest river turned red for more than an hour on Tuesday in Lanzhou, a city of 2 million and the capital of the western province of Gansu, the Beijing Youth Daily newspaper said. The newspaper said the polluted section was 2km long. The river was polluted by waste water discharged by a heating station, Xinhua news agency said. The discharged water likely came from boilers in which hot water was dyed red to prevent people from diverting it.
Eleven killed in bus crash
Eleven people were killed and six others injured when a bus plunged off a road in the southwest part of the country, state media reported. Xinhua news agency said 10 people died immediately when the bus fell 23m off a mountain road on Tuesday afternoon in southwest Chongqing Municipality. One of the seven injured died in hospital, Xinhua said.
Elderly increasingly solitary
More than 40 percent of elderly men living alone say they don't have any close friends and one in four says he has no contact with neighbors, a government survey that presents a grim picture of Japan's aging society says. The percentage of women in the same category was 22.4 percent. The study interviewed 792 men and women aged 65 or older and living alone. The group included both married and unmarried people. Among the men, 24.3 percent said they had no contacts at all with neighbors, up from 15.4 percent in a similar survey in 2002.
Man dies of rabies
The government yesterday urged travelers to take precautions after two nationals contracted rabies in the Philippines, with one of them dying in the first cases seen in 36 years. The two men both were infected after being bitten by dogs in the Philippines, the health ministry said. One victim died last week in the first human rabies case confirmed in Japan since 1970, the ministry said. The man, in his 60s, failed to take vaccination shots after being bitten and later showed symptoms such as delirium after returning to Kyoto. The other man was in serious condition in Yokohama.
■ Hong Kong
They're presentable, environmentally friendly and burn faster: cardboard "eco-coffins" may just be the solution to long queues at Hong Kong's busy crematoriums, officials say. Health officials want to introduce the green coffins -- made of corrugated cardboard and said to speed up the cremation process from two-and-a-half hours to an hour -- to alleviate traffic at crematoriums, the government said on Tuesday. "With less time required for each session, we can arrange more sessions per day to cut queuing time for cremation," said the secretary for Health, Welfare and Food.