■ HONG KONG
Madonna cutouts stolen
Cardboard cut-outs of pop diva Madonna in provocative poses used to advertise her new album have been stolen from music shops, a news report said yesterday. At least 10 of the 30.6m-high cutouts advertising the 49-year-old’s new album, Hard Candy, have been taken from shops since they went on display last week, the Sunday Morning Post reported. Record company Warner Music told the newspaper it was unheard of for people to walk away with nearly life-size cut-outs from shops, but said it did not plan to raise the matter with police. “We have had people ripping off posters before, but stealing cutouts certainly takes some guts,” Kelvin Wong, vice president of Warner Music Asia, told the newspaper.
Women face restrictions
Foreign Minister Rais Yatim says women traveling alone abroad should be required to carry a letter from parents or employers verifying the reason for their journey, a news report said yesterday. The foreign ministry said the was to curb the use of women as illicit drug couriers, but the plan was immediately condemned by women’s rights groups as repressive. Yatim has submitted the proposal to the Cabinet, the New Sunday Times reported. The plan is similar to requirements in some Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, where women need permission from their guardians to travel as part of Islamic principles.
■ SOUTH KOREA
Huge waves kill five
At least eight were people killed when they were swept away by high waves that hit a port yesterday on the west coast, a coastguard official said. Twelve others were rescued after the waves caused by storms and high wind hit the Yellow Sea port of Boryeong Namdo, about 185km southwest of Seoul. They were taken to hospital, where five were in critical condition, the official said. “Apparently, some people were fishing and others walking along the coast when the accident happened,” said Lee Won-il of the Taean coastguard.
Chili market catches fire
A fire has broken out at one of the largest chili markets, burning hundreds of thousands of pounds of chili peppers and covering the nearby area with a cloud of stinging smoke. Firefighters were still battling the blaze hours after it broke out on Saturday morning. Officials have evacuated neighbors of the market in Guntur in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Residents and officials say the burning chili smoke has stung the eyes and throats of people across the city. “People are coughing uncontrollably,” farmer Y Venkateshwarulu said. Local official Kanna Lakshminarayana said 150,000 bags of chilies have been destroyed across a 20-hectare area.
More officials dismissed
Five rail officials following a train crash last month that killed 72 people, bringing to eight the total number dismissed. Authorities have blamed the worst train accident in the country in over a decade on speeding and poor management. The five officials of the Jinan Railway Bureau, which oversees rail lines in Shandong, have been removed from their jobs, the Beijing News said yesterday. The director, Chinese Communist Party boss and another senior official of the bureau had already been sacked over the crash, which also injured more than 400 of the some 2,800 passengers aboard the two trains.
Plane lands on mountain
A pilot successfully landed his plane on the nation’s highest mountain for the first time in 50 years. Pilot Tom Huber set his small Savage Classic D-MERG plane down on Saturday on a 2,600m plateau on Bavaria’s Zugspitze. He was given special permission to land on the 2,962m mountain in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in a stunt marking the end of the winter season. The last time a plane was successfully landed on the mountain was in 1958.