Fri, Jul 20, 2007 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

■ JAPAN

Fire in Tokyo kills two

Two women were killed yesterday in a fire that burned down an 80-year-old dormitory for foreign residents in Tokyo, police said. “Two women who appear to be in their 70s and 40s died,” a police spokesman said, adding they were yet to be identified. Several other people were injured, he added. News reports said the fire was set off early in the morning by a resident’s cigarette. Police declined comment. The three-story dormitory was built in 1927 for students from Taiwan, which was then under Japanese colonial rule. Some 40 Taiwanese, Chinese and Japanese of various ages now live there, the reports said.

■ CHINA

Eight die in fungus feud

A feud between two southwest townships over access to valuable wild fungus erupted into a gun battle that left eight people dead and 44 wounded, Xinhua news agency said yesterday, citing the local government. The violence occurred in the Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of mountainous Sichuan Province last Friday. “A county government official said around 200 residents from Danba and Sumdo townships clashed in a dispute over access to wild fungus and firewood,” Xinhua news agency said. Some of those involved drew rifles and the gun battle lasted around 10 minutes, the official said.

■ CHINA

Most widely read blogger

Actress-turned-director Xu Jinglei (徐靜蕾) became the world’s most widely read blogger this month when her blog logged 100 million page views within about 600 days, the Beijing News said yesterday. And Xu, who has a reputation for a high intellect and integrity, has done it without writing about sex or providing a catalogue of kiss-and-tell stories — but focusing on her work and day-to-day life. The 100 millionth hit occurred on July 12, according to www.sina.com.cn, a popular Web site which provides blog services to many entertainers, including Xu who started hers in October 2005 and published a book of her blogged articles in March last year.

■ NEW ZEALAND

Firefighter counts his luck

A firefighter is counting his luck after a red-hot steel rod was fired into his helmet from an exploding vehicle, local media reported yesterday. The steel rod was traveling at such speed it punched a hole through a steel door before hitting 41-year-old Gary Wright’s Kevlar fire helmet, the New Zealand Herald said. Wright was getting ready to fight a blaze earlier this month that had engulfed a garage full of vehicles in a suburb of Auckland when the steel rod fired out of an exploding van 19m away. “I had only just put my BA [breathing apparatus] set on and put my helmet back on,” he said.

■ CHINA

Protest organizer arrested

Beijing has arrested at least one activist for organizing protests in a southeastern port city last month in which thousands of residents opposed construction of a chemical plant, two friends said yesterday. Liaising via cellphone text massages and the Internet, the protesters marched through downtown areas of Xiamen on June 1 and 2 to demand the government scrap plans to build the Taiwan-funded plant to make paraxylene, a compound used in polyester and fabrics. Citing critics including government experts and advisers, they said the factory, next to a residential area, was a “timebomb” for public health and a grave threat to the environment.

■ ITALY

Murderer gets 20 years

A judge handed a 20-year sentence on Wednesday to one of the men behind last year’s murder of an epileptic toddler, who was snatched from his highchair at home and then killed with a shovel. The murder of 18-month-old Tommaso Onofri horrified people who had waged a month-long campaign for the toddler’s release — complete with appeals from the pope — without knowing the boy was already dead. Tommaso’s kidnappers, who planned to demand a ransom, hit him in the face with a shovel to stop him crying shortly after the abduction, the force of the blow killing the toddler.

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