Sidr death toll rises
The death toll from the devastating Cyclone Sidr that crashed into the southern coast last Thursday rose yesterday, officials said. "The death toll has reached 3,447 and the number may rise again," said Major Kamrul Islam of the armed forces control room. Five days after the cyclone hit, the number of dead was still unclear as many of the areas affected were remote and had not yet been reached by officials. Many bodies were also washed away by a tidal wave caused by the storm.
West Lake hunts wild pigs
One of the most popular tourist destinations in the country is waging a week-long campaign to hunt down wild pigs which have been frightening visitors, Xinhua news agency said yesterday. Professional hunting teams from the famed West Lake area of Hangzhou were under orders to shoot to kill the animals, Xinhua said. A regional official said the campaign began on Monday and that police would also get a piece of the action, as they were under orders to guard road junctions to prevent injuries from the pigs. No record of assaults or injuries caused by wild pigs inside the area is kept, but their presence was "not welcomed by locals and has hit tourism," Xinhua said.
Maoists blow up track
Maoist insurgents blew up a railway track in Bihar yesterday, severely disrupting the rail network on the second day of protests over the killing of villagers in a land row. Dozens of trains were held up or canceled after the attack in Lakhisarai district, railway officials and police said. The rebels also shut down shops and blocked roads to protest against the violence in neighboring West Bengal's Nandigram area, which they blame on the communist-ruled state government. The communists lost control of Nandigram earlier this year after trying to force villagers off their land to make way for a chemicals complex. This month the communists forced their way back in, killing at least six villagers.
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Military kills five Tigers
Soldiers attacked separatist Tamil Tiger rebel bunkers along front lines in the country's north yesterday, killing five guerrillas, the military said. The attack also destroyed two rebel bunkers in the village of Kilali, along the frontier between government and rebel-controlled territory, a defense ministry official said. Soldiers did not suffer casualties, he said. The government has intensified its military campaign against the Tigers, aiming to dismantle the rebels' de facto state in the north.
Smoking ban angers some
Naples brought in tough anti-smoking measures on Monday, but not everyone was convinced that people in a city famed for flouting the law would stop lighting up in parks or near pregnant women. "However they try and enforce this, they will meet with laughter," Naples city Councilor Gennaro Capodanno said of the ban on smoking in parks, near pregnant women or children under 12 in public or during demonstrations. Neapolitans now risk a fine of up to 250 euros (US$366). The city council tightened legislation after health reports found the risk of lung cancer to be "significantly" higher there than elsewhere in the country.
Unusual beauty contest
The government is planning a beauty contest with a difference to mark its 90th birthday next February: the world's prettiest language. Education Minister Tonis Lukas wants school pupils worldwide to record sentences of up to seven words for the contest, the Baltic News Service (BNS) agency said. "There's a story that a world championship of beautiful languages was once held in which Estonian took second place after Italian with the sentence `soida tasa ule silla,' or `go slowly over the bridge,'" Lukas said on Monday. "As part of the events for the anniversary of the republic, we're pleased to turn to other nations with a friendly call to check how our language sounds to others now."