More executions commuted
For the first time in its modern history, the government has commuted more death sentences this year than it has carried out, the country's top judge said. International rights groups estimate that the country executes more people than any other. But Beijing has been slowly reforming the death penalty system after several high-profile wrongful convictions raised public anger. "The number of death sentences has been gradually decreasing and human rights are being better protected," Chief Justice Xiao Yang (肖揚) told a conference on court reform, the China Daily reported.
Bird flu discovered
A new outbreak of bird flu has been detected among chickens in an eastern district near the Chinese border, official media said yesterday. The outbreak was found at a farm in Kengtung township of eastern Shan State on Nov. 18, after a farmer reported an unusual number of deaths in his chickens, the New Light of Myanmar said. The government newspaper said an unspecified number of chickens were slaughtered and restrictions were imposed on the movement of poultry in the area.
Police may go short-sleeved
Police officers may be allowed to cool off by wearing a new short-sleeve uniform in a move to help save energy at police stations, a government spokesman said yesterday. Thai police currently have only a brown, torso-hugging long-sleeve uniform that they wear even while directing traffic in Bangkok's sweltering heat. But approving a new uniform is a complicated process, an official said.
Gas station explodes
A powerful explosion at a gas station in Shanghai killed four people yesterday, including a cyclist a kilometer away who was struck by flying debris. Xinhua news agency said the victims included two men who were doing maintenance work at the station, which was being renovated. Dozens were injured, including several passengers in a bus that was hit by shockwaves from the blast. Investigators have put initial blame for the accident on the maintenance men, Xinhua said.
Rescuers search for racers
Divers, fishermen and police resumed searching yesterday for five Singaporeans whose boat capsized in a swirling current during a dragon boat race on the Tonle Sap River. The rowers disappeared after competing on Friday evening. There were 22 people on the boat when it capsized in the swirling current, and police boats rescued 17 of them immediately. "At the pier, they asked the tow boat to untie the rope to let them go on rowing for leisure. They hit a swirling spot, and the boat capsized," said Chea Sokhom, one of the festival organizers.
Avalanche kills four climbers
Four climbers were killed in northern Japan after their group was hit by a snow avalanche, an official said yesterday. The avalanche hit the group of 11 on Friday on Mt. Kamihorokamettoku in Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost main island. Seven of the group managed to escape and tried unsuccessfully to revive two men and a woman they pulled clear, the official said. Rescuers recovered the three yesterday morning when they also found the body of a man from the same group who had been missing on the 1,920m mountain since the avalanche hit. The seven survivors were not injured, said the police official. Kyodo News agency said that an avalanche warning had been issued for the area during Thursday and Friday morning.