Air controllers late to work
An airplane was stuck circling a southern airport for several minutes before landing on Friday because air traffic controllers apparently still in a Christmas holiday mood came in late for work, officials said. The Philippine Airlines flight from Manila was unable to land at Zamboanga city’s airport on schedule because there were no traffic controllers around to answer their request to approach the runway, said Reynaldo Alforte, the airport’s assistant chief air traffic controller. “There were two controllers who reported for work a few minutes late, causing delays,” Alforte said. Two other tower workers scheduled to be on duty were absent on Friday, he said, adding that the case was under investigation.
Belgian killed in crash
A Belgian man has died in Phnom Penh after driving under the influence of alcohol without a helmet and crashing into a truck, police said yesterday. Van Esbroeck Guido’s 44-year-old Cambodian wife told police on Thursday she had earlier refused to ride pillion on her husband’s bike when he fell off after drinking. Police said the 48-year-old Belgian continued driving alone and later crashed into a truck as it left a construction site. “He was very drunk while driving, didn’t have on a helmet and later crashed into a truck that didn’t give a signal when it turned,” said traffic police chief Tin Prasoeur. Deaths on the roads have more than doubled in the past five years, becoming Cambodia’s second biggest killer behind HIV/AIDS. In a bid to put an end to the carnage the government has pushed through drastic new traffic laws, previously unheard of in Cambodia’s free-wheeling road culture. From Thursday, drivers’ licenses will be mandatory, as will helmets for those on motorbikes and seatbelts for motorists.
Fortune teller sentenced
A Malaysian fortune teller was sentenced to 15 months in jail by a Singapore court on Friday for fleecing a woman of S$60,000 (US$41,430), the Straits Times reported yesterday. Tan Ka Chuan received regular payments from Singaporean Lee Lye Fong in exchange for promises to perform rituals that would protect her family and make her wealthy. Lee herself went through a police probe for dipping into the funds of her employer to pay for Tan’s bogus promises. Tan, 36, a Malaysian national, used the money pay his gambling debts. He admitted to the police that he had no powers to see the future and did not perform religious rites. Lee’s payments to Tan go back five years, the report said.
Three earthquakes strike
Three moderate earthquakes hit the southwestern region, injuring 19 people and forcing the evacuation of thousands of homes, state media reported yesterday. A 4.9-magnitude quake hit Ruili, a city on the China-Myanmar border in Yunnan Province, early on Friday, the Xinhua news agency reported, citing the provincial seismic monitoring agency. Three people were seriously hurt while 16 others suffered minor injuries, said the city’s Communist Party chief. He said 10,000 people were evacuated and the quake destroyed the city government’s office building and damaged thousands of houses. Local officials were distributing 300,000 yuan (US$44,000) in relief supplies to affected residents, Xinhua said. A 4.3-magnitude quake hit a village near the Yunnan capital Kunming early on Friday but no casualties were reported. A third tremor measuring 4.0 hit Guizhou Province on Friday night but there were no reports of casualties or damage.