Earthquake hits near Aceh
An earthquake of magnitude 6 struck off the coast of Indonesia's Sumatra island, near Aceh, the country's meteorological agency said yesterday, but officials said there was no damage to nearby energy facilities and a tsunami warning was not issued. The quake struck 113km southwest of Banda Aceh in Sumatra and was at a depth of 16km, the agency said in a text message. An official at the country's oil and gas watchdog said that the natural gas production area in Arun operated by US Exxon Mobil had not been affected by the quake. The facility produces between 500 million cubic feet and 600 million cubic feet of natural gas per day and supplies an LNG plant in Arun.
■ NEW ZEALAND
Legislator faces 40 charges
A legislator and former government minister will face 40 charges of bribery and perverting the course of justice, police said yesterday. Taito Phillip Field, who resigned from Prime Minister Helen Clark's ruling Labour Party to become an independent legislator after accusations were made against him in 2005, has been charged with 15 counts of bribery and 25 counts of attempting to pervert the course of justice. Field is due to appear in an Auckland court on Monday for an initial hearing. The charges related to allegations he offered to help migrants with immigration problems in exchange for thousands of dollars of work on his houses in New Zealand and Samoa. Field's lawyer Simativa Perese said Field wanted to go to trial and clear his name before the national election due by late next year.
Twenty-five people missing
Twenty-five Filipinos were missing after their vessel sank in the storm-tossed South China Sea, the Philippine Coast Guard said yesterday. Another 30 crew members were rescued by Chinese fishermen, said Vice Admiral Danilo Abinoja, the Filipino coast guard chief. Philippine authorities are trying to establish the identity, type, and registry of the vessel, and a coastguard patrol craft was en route to help search for the missing, Abinoja said. The incident occurred on Thursday amid turbulent weather in the area of the disputed Spratly islands. Tropical storm Hagibis is currently whipping the Spratlys after killing 13 people in the southern and central Philippines, the weather office in Manila said.
Thief caught snoozing
A would-be thief took a nap while burgling a house in Bosnia -- and the owner found him sound asleep on the couch, police said on Thursday. The man, identified only as Edin M., 21, managed to snatch two bracelets and an earring before falling asleep, police in the central Bosnian town of Maglaj said. He confessed to breaking into the house. "He saw the couch and just sat to down to rest for a while and fell asleep," police said in a statement.
Bus bomb kills five
A bomb ripped through a bus in Russia's turbulent North Caucasus region on Thursday, killing at least five people, including a schoolgirl, and injuring 13. About 19 people were on the bus when the explosion took place, near the Bratsk police checkpoint at the internal border between North Ossetia and Kabardino-Balkaria. Police sources said the blast was caused by about 300g to 400g of explosives packed with nails and pieces of metal. The bus was traveling to North Ossetia's capital, Vladikavkaz, from the southern Russian city of Pyatigorsk.