Fireworks blaze kills 15
Revelers celebrating a birthday set off fireworks inside a bar in the south, triggering a blaze that killed 15 people and injured 22, state media said. The fire in Changle, Fujian Province, started just before midnight on Saturday, when 10 people lit the fireworks at their table, Xinhua news agency said. The explosion “set the ceiling on fire and the entire place was soon engulfed in flames,” Xinhua said, citing a city government spokesman.
Singh released after surgery
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was released from a hospital yesterday, one week after undergoing heart bypass surgery. Singh was in good condition and would likely be back at work in about three weeks, Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss told reporters outside the New Delhi hospital. “He is on his way to a speedy recovery,” Ramadoss said. The 76-year-old leader — who has a history of heart problems — underwent more than 12 hours of surgery to bypass five blocked arteries.
Web prostitution on the rise
The Culture Ministry is urging authorities to crack down on a rising trend of Thai students using the Internet for direct-sale prostitution, media reports said yesterday. Culture Minister Theera Salukpetch asked the Education Ministry, the Communications Technology Ministry, police and Internet service providers to increase their vigilance against Web site prostitution, which he blamed on faulty values among the country’s youth, the Nation newspaper reported. Academics urged colleges and the government to take action against the trend of students using social networking Web sites such as Hi5 to advertise prostitution by posting their pictures with suggestive messages.
Energy talks planned
Tokyo will soon launch talks with South Korea and Vietnam on cooperation in developing nuclear energy, with its sights set on growing demand in emerging economies, a report said yesterday. The talks on nuclear power accords with South Korea and Vietnam will start as early as this spring and Tokyo is expected to conclude an agreement with Russia, the Nikkei Shimbun said. Demand for construction of nuclear power stations is rising in emerging economies. The accords are designed to simplify export procedures for products related to nuclear power generation and prohibit their being diverted for military use or to other countries, the paper said.
Drugs hidden in soap bars
Airport police detained an Indian national found carrying 7.5kg of the hallucinogen ketamine hidden in soap bars upon his arrival at Bayan Lepas International Airport in Penang, news reports said yesterday. The suspect, in his 40s, had arrived at the airport on Thursday night from Bangkok with 147 soap bars hidden in his two bags, the Star newspaper reported. The country’s tough drug laws prescribe a mandatory death sentence for smuggling most types of drugs. “We used the scanner at the airport to check the items,” state customs deputy chief Chik Omar Chik Lim said. He said the soaps were hollowed-out and filled with ketamine before being re-packaged. “We are surprised that he was willing to take the risk to courier the drugs for a meager 500 ringgit [US$145],” he said.
Sex worker found dead
Police said yesterday they were investigating the suspected murder of a Thai prostitute, the third sex worker to be killed in the territory in the past three weeks. Police found the 38-year-old woman lying unconscious on a bed inside a one-woman brothel after receiving a robbery report on Saturday night, a spokeswoman said. She was rushed to hospital but declared dead on arrival. “The suspected murder case is still under investigation,” she said. The Sunday Morning Post reported sources saying that the victim had been suffocated. The newspaper said police were investigating whether the case was linked to the unsolved murders of two sex workers last month.