■ Hong Kong
Women has brush with death
A woman somehow swallowed her toothbrush but still managed to dial 999 and call for an ambulance, a newspaper reported on Wednesday. The 42-year-old woman's brush with disaster happened on Tuesday morning when she slipped, jamming the offending 15cm implement down her throat, the South China Morning Post said. The woman was still able to call 999 without choking and request an ambulance, the paper reported. "Paramedics obtained another 15cm-long toothbrush at her home, which she said was similar to the one she swallowed, and took it with them to the hospital," the newspaper said. The instrument was eventually extracted with endoscopic surgery.
Midget mobsters nabbed
Police detained an eight-member gang of small-sized robbers dubbed the "midget gang," who allegedly confessed to committing 14 break-ins over the past three months, a news report said yesterday. All the gang members, aged between 14 and 23 years, were diminutive, the Star newspaper said without saying whether they were dwarfs or just small. Some of them who were less than 150cm tall would be picked to squeeze through small openings into the houses they robbed, the Star said. Gang members confessed to their crimes when they were detained, according to the report.
Three Norwegians detained
Three Norwegians were briefly detained by police as they arrived at the monastery of an activist Buddhist monk in Ho Chi Minh City yesterday, the Norwegian embassy in Hanoi said. The arrests were not immediately confirmed by authorities, who last month denied a visa to the chairman of the Rafto Foundation of Norway that awarded the monk, Thich Quang Do, its annual human rights prize last year. "I can confirm three Norwegians were arrested, questioned by police and released," an official at the embassy said.
Fifty policemen killed
Fifty policemen were killed in a Maoist rebel attack on a jungle security post in the central state of Chhattisgarh, an official said yesterday. "Fifty police have been killed, including special police officers and state police personnel," said K.R. Pisda, administrator of the area where the overnight attack took place. Maoist rebels, who launch frequent attacks in their fight for the rights of neglected tribes and landless farmers, have gained control of 10 of the state's 16 impoverished districts, according to police. Officials have said the Maoist insurgency, which dates back over four decades, now threatens huge swathes of the country's center, east and south.
Company admits coverup
A power company admitted yesterday that it had covered up a 1999 incident in which mishandling of nuclear fuel rods led to an unintended self-sustaining nuclear fission chain reaction for 15 minutes. Hokuriku Electric Power said that there had been no radiation leak as a result of the mistake, which caused the company's Shiga No. 1 nuclear unit in central Japan to go into a "critical state" for 15 minutes. The unit was shut down manually after an automatic shut-down function failed. The company apologized at a briefing for not reporting the incident, which occurred during a test while the unit was off line.
■ United Kingdom
Men charged for jail time
Two men who spent more than 12 years in jail for a murder they did not commit must pay the "living expenses" they incurred in prison from their compensation, the Court of Appeal ruled on Wednesday. By a four-one majority, five law lords upheld the deduction from the Home Office compensation awarded to cousins Vincent and Michael Hickey for their wrongful conviction in 1979. The pair argued that it was wrong to charge what was, in effect, board and lodging during their unjustified incarceration. The Hickeys' lawyer said: "To deduct saved living expenses from their compensation offends against justice." The dissenting judge likened the men's incarceration to a "prolonged kidnapping."