Gas leak sickens scores
At least 60 people were taken to hospital yesterday after a leak of chlorine gas in a sprawling industrial district of Mumbai. Mumbai Fire Brigade chief officer Uday Tatkare said the leak happened in the Sewri area of the city owned by the Mumbai Port Trust. “One of three cylinders stored in a courtyard at a warehouse owned by the Trust leaked. The leakage has been brought under control and we are in damage control mode,” he said by telephone from the scene. Four firefighters who were sent to the accident were among those in hospital, but were in a stable condition, he added. A total of 58 people were taken to the state-run Jamshetjee Jejeebhoy Hospital for treatment for “breathlessness, suffocation and nausea,” a spokesman said. Eight were in a critical condition. Two people were also being treated at the King Edward Memorial Hospital but their condition was not said to be serious.
Euthanasia to be allowed
Doctors will be allowed to remove life support from terminally ill patients after confirming their wish to die, under new medical guidelines on mercy killing, officials said yesterday. The guidelines were drawn up by a committee of 18 representatives from parliament, civic groups and the judicial, religious and medical communities, the health ministry said. They agreed that doctors could stop prolonged life-sustaining treatment, based only on prior written or oral statements from patients. But they failed to agree on mercy killing for mentally disabled and other patients who cannot express their wish, the ministry said in a statement. Ministry officials said the guidelines would be used to enact a new law on euthanasia, although no timetable has been set for when parliament would debate the legislation.
Baluch leader killed
Gunmen yesterday killed a political leader in Quetta who had hounded authorities to find hundreds of missing Baluch nationalists in the nation’s southwest. Habib Jalib Baluch, a lawyer and secretary-general of the Baluchistan National Party, was killed near his home in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan Province, police official Hamid Shakil said. Baluchistan has long been the scene of a nationalist movement and insurgency determined to gain more autonomy for the province and a greater share of the wealth mined from its natural resources. Activists say hundreds of Baluch nationalists have vanished over the past several years.
Dog shoots owner
A man has good reason to question whether his dog is truly his best friend after his family pet shot him in the backside in a potentially fatal accident. The 40-year-old man was sitting in the backseat of his car when the dog stepped on the trigger of a loaded .22 rifle and shot him, police told the Northern Advocate newspaper yesterday. The wounded man was with a group of friends who had just finished killing and butchering a domestic pig and he thought the rifle had been unloaded. He was rushed by helicopter to a nearby hospital in the far northern town of Dargaville, where doctors said he had surgery to remove a bullet from his left buttock.
Facebook lightens skin
Skincare group Vaseline has introduced a skin-lightening application for Facebook, enabling users to make their skin whiter in their profile pictures. The download is designed to promote Vaseline’s range of skin-lightening creams for men, a huge and fast-growing market driven by fashion and a cultural preference for fairer skin. The widget promises to “Transform Your Face On Facebook With Vaseline Men” in a campaign fronted by Bollywood actor Shahid Kapur, who is depicted with his face divided into dark and fair halves.
Fines for elephant feeding
You can still feed elephants in Bangkok — but it could cost you. Bangkok authorities said on Monday anyone caught handing bunches of bananas or sugar cane to the hulking beasts faces a US$320 fine. “The ordinance is issued to prevent untidiness or danger toward properties and lives of Bangkok residents,” said Manit Techa-apichoke, deputy director of the City Law Enforcement Department, adding there had been cases of elephants hurting people and falling into drains. Friends of the Asian Elephant, a Thai nongovernment group which cares for injured or mistreated elephants, called the fines a good start.
Tiny mushrooms kill 400
Every year during the height of the rainy season, villagers of all ages in a corner of southwestern China would suddenly die of cardiac arrest. No one knew what caused the Yunnan Sudden Death Syndrome, blamed for an estimated 400 deaths in the past three decades. After a five-year study, an investigative unit from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention believes it has pinpointed the cause. In 2008, the team discovered a relatively unknown mushroom in a number of homes where people had died. A public information campaign to warn against eating the mushrooms has sharply reduced the number of deaths. Only a handful have been reported in the last couple of years, and none so far this year.
Al-Qaeda blamed for attacks
Gunmen launched simultaneous attacks yesterday on the intelligence and security services headquarters in the town of Zinjibar, killing one policeman and one attacker, while wounding nine people, medical officials said. Witnesses said gunmen on motorbikes armed with rocket-propelled grenades, assault rifles and grenades began attacking the two buildings around 8am. “It seems al-Qaeda was behind the attacks,” a security official said.
Opposition official missing
A senior opposition official has gone missing after his car was found abandoned near the southern city of Butare, his party said on Tuesday. The Democratic Green Party, which has been unable to register for next month’s presidential election, said its vice president, Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, went missing early on Tuesday. “There’s no blood or anything, so we don’t know what actually happened ... but it is confirmed that he is missing,” party president Frank Habineza said.
Minister to quit party post
Eric Woerth, the minister at the heart of a political furor surrounding the fortune of L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, said on Tuesday he would step down as treasurer of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement by the end of the month. The move appears designed to appease critics calling for his resignation from the government. Opposition critics have accused Woerth of turning a blind eye to the alleged inconsistencies in the management of the 87-year-old heiress’ fortune — a charge vehemently rejected by Woerth and Sarkozy, and ruled out by an official report.
Betancourt withdraws suit
Former hostage Ingrid Betancourt on Tuesday withdraw a widely panned demand for compensation for nearly six years in captivity. Betancourt had demanded about US$8 million for damages to herself and and relatives during her captivity in the jungle. Betancourt said she was stripped her of bodyguards when she was running for president and allowed to travel on the road controlled by leftist guerillas where she was nabbed. The government says Betancourt had assumed responsibility for the journey.
Cruz and Bardem wed
Spanish actors and Oscar winners Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem have gotten married. Cruz’s representative Amanda Silverman confirmed the couple were married at the beginning of this month at a friend’s house in the Bahamas. Cruz, 36, and Bardem, 41, met when they starred opposite each other in Bigas Luna’s film Jamon, Jamon in 1992. They appeared together Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Cruz won a supporting-actress Oscar for that film, while Bardem won a supporting-actor Oscar for the 2007 No Country for Old Men.
Trapped dog honks horn
A veterinarian says a dog trapped in a car on a 32ºC day in eastern Pennsylvania honked the horn until he was rescued. Nancy Soares says the chocolate Labrador was brought to her Macungie Animal Hospital last month after he had been in the car for about an hour. She says Max’s owner had gone shopping and was unloading packages when she returned but forgot that Max was still in the car. She later heard the horn honking and saw Max sitting in the driver’s seat, honking the horn.
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,
An Australian graduate student arrested for spying and expelled from North Korea last year said that he was threatened with a firing-squad execution and told not even US President Donald Trump could save his “sorry arse.” Among the crimes Alek Sigley was accused of committing was posting a picture of a toy tank on Instagram, which his interrogators told him was military espionage. Sigley, 30, was studying for a master’s degree in Korean literature at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang when he went missing in June last year, sparking alarm. A fluent speaker of Korean, he had written articles for several publications