Train crash claims 16 lives
Rescuers searched through the wreckage of smashed carriages yesterday after a train derailed in the east, leaving 16 people dead and almost 200 injured, rail officials said. The high-speed Coromandel Express, connecting the eastern metropolis of Kolkata and the southern city of Chennai, derailed on Friday night while changing tracks at Jajpur. Witnesses said 12 carriages had jumped the tracks while traveling at high speed. “The train had acquired speed and minutes later it crossed the station and just toppled,” said Hemant Bhalotia, whose 70-year-old father died. The accident came on a day when Federal Railways Minister Lalu Yadav took credit for turning round the giant state-run transport network, which was once headed for bankruptcy. The Press Trust of India news agency reported that Yadav has ordered an inquiry into the accident as well as compensation for families of the dead and those injured.
‘Stone man’ killer sought
Police are searching for a killer — dubbed the “stone man” for his choice of weapon — who has struck for the sixth time in less than two months. The murderer’s latest victim was a young man whose badly battered body was recovered on Friday from outside a Hindu temple in Guwahati, the main city in the northeastern state of Assam. Police said the modus operandi was almost the same in the five other murders in Guwahati, whose victims were all men. The attacker targets the victim before dawn, bludgeoning him around the head with a stone-like object. The killer appears to be targeting beggars and homeless people, police said. The killings come as The Stoneman Murders, a film based on the unsolved serial murders of pavement dwellers in Mumbai in 1983, hit movie theaters across the country this week.
Military causes quake scare
Military exercises caused earthquake panic to break out when detonations made the ground shake, the official Xinhua news agency said yesterday. About 100,000 people fled onto the streets on Wednesday in the cities of Hengyang, Zhuzhou and Chenzhou in Hunan Province as news about the possible earthquake was spread over mobile phones and the Internet. Thousands slept outdoors out of fear of a quake despite repeated assurances from government authorities that no quake had occurred.
US charges alleged spy
A woman was charged on Friday with exporting miniature controls for small unmanned aircraft to China. The US government said the controls were the world’s smallest and involve a technology that cannot be shared with China. The devices can be used to fly small military reconnaissance planes. Yaming Nina Qi Hanson of Silver Spring, Maryland, is accused of taking the controls to China last August without a required export license. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a US$1 million fine. Qi Hanson and her husband, Harold Hanson, arranged over e-mail to buy the controls from a Canadian company, MicroPilot, the complaint said. Company officials told the couple they could ship the controls to the US but the couple would have to get an export permit to send the controls to another country. Harold Hanson said the controls were going to be used by a model airplane club in Xian, China. When Canadian officials asked why automated controls would be used for model airplanes that are typically flown manually, Hanson replied that “typical of Asian men, these modelers want the very best product on the market.”